Oikos @ Breakneck Gorge

  • 2019

  • Architectural
    Architectual Design

Designed By:

  • Robert Nichol and Sons

Commissioned By:

Breakneck Gorge Pty Ltd

Designed In:


Set on a striking elevation outside Hepburn Springs, Oikos is a compact, yet distinctive short-stay retreat. The building’s dramatic sculptural form, created with folds of rusting Corten steel, complements the site and disappears into the rugged surroundings.

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  • The clients brief was to design a building that delivered on the following: ● Unique design ● Compact floor area that felt generous in scale ● Views captured from all vantage points ● Low maintenance and robust external material palette ● A place for escape and wellness

  • The design was approached with sculptural intent while considering the pragmatics of construction, which resulted in the unique appearance of Oikos. Compact floor area was achieved by omitting circulation spaces, built in furnishings, large expanses of glass, no internal doors and exploiting the height created by the exterior shape. Views were maximised by careful consideration of window sizes and locations even from the shower whilst ensuring the building was oriented and angled toward dramatic scenes. With strong connection to its place, Oikos allow the user to exist in harmony with the surrounding environment, creating a sense of wellness and belonging.

  • Oikos is subtle in scale and rich in design and offers the market both a unique architectural expression and natural setting, one that enriches the lives of those who experience it. Although early days, it’s becoming evident the investment in design is having a positive market impact. In the competitive local short-term market, uptake and customer responses have far outweighed the client’s expectations. Oikos has been built to age with the environmental extremes of the area. Over time, the impact of this will be realised in a building that survives and weathers with the land it stands on.

  • The requirement for complete privacy back to the main homestead presented an opportunity to rethink traditional design approaches. We had to ensure this view was effective and aesthetically pleasing with no visible openings so that visitors and owners don’t come into visual contact with each other. The builder and the façade installer were engaged during the design phase which was invaluable in dealing with any knowledge gaps. Any areas of difficulty especially with the facade were dealt with before construction commenced, which in turn resulted in an efficient and painless construction. The complex façade work was all formed on site with mobile machinery, nothing was premade in the workshop and this ensured seamless connections between the panels. Whilst the interior appears simple and streamlined there are a few details which offer elements of surprise and memorable experiences. The bed is cantilevered off the bedhead wall so that it floats and allows light to transfer beneath omitting heavy shadows. There are finely detailed marble thresholds which are bullnosed and mitred so the entry to rooms becomes a heightened experience and the shower tiling continues over the ceiling for an immersive, calming feeling whilst showering.