‘Life on the Edge:’ Australians Create a Concept House that Hangs Off Cliff

An Australia-based architecture company found a way to take the most from the breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.

The Cliff House has three bedrooms, a living room, a carport, separate bathroom and an open-air spa and barbecue area on the bottom floor. Photo: Modscape

The Cliff House has three bedrooms, a living room, a carport, separate bathroom and an open-air spa and barbecue area on the bottom floor. Photo: Modscape

It may be your dream house, if you have ever dreamt of a house hanging off a cliff over a blue and breathtaking ocean. It is definitely house for adventurers who are not afraid of heights.

The “Cliff House” is located on the Australian southwest coast, extending off a vertical rock face and anchoring to the cliff side with support beams. It was developed by Australian architecture specialists Modscape Concept, who found their inspiration in how barnacles cling to a ship’s hull.

The Modscape team said they were approached by a couple to design a vacation home on the “extreme parcel” of land they own on the Victorian coast. And they took the challenge.

“If somebody came along with the right amount of money and a cliff, you could definitely build that,” Jan Gyrn, of Modscape, said.

Looking out over the ocean, the five-story Cliff House features three bedrooms, a living area, kitchen, garage, separate bathroom and an open-air spa and barbecue area on the bottom floor, and gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows that display a spectacular view of the horizon.

Each level would be smaller than the one above it, according to the plans. An elevator would connect each floor.

“The design is a theoretical response to clients who have approached us to explore design options for extreme parcels of coastal land in Australia,” explain the architects behind the unconventional building

“A concept was developed for a modular home to hang off the side of a cliff as opposed to sitting on top of it. The home is visualized as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean.”

The company creates homes using modules, with a steel frame and structurally insulated panels, in a factory before assembling on site. The modules can be used to create a huge variety of configurations to suit any space.

“Internally, the living spaces feature minimalistic furnishings to ensure that the transcendent views of the ocean and the unique spatial experience of the location remain the integral focal point of the design,” says the firm’s website.

Maxwell Hutchinson, a former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, believes that even though the project seems to be a risky one because of coastal erosion, there’s no reason why the design shouldn’t be structurally sound. Cantilever beams drilled into the rock could support the building just as crampons support a climber.

However, Mr. Hutchinson warns, “all of these things are expensive because the construction industry hates anything unusual.” Moreover, the prospective buyers should have deep pockets and a strong stomach, he told BBC News.

Jan says only misguided perceptions about build quality have held the industry back.

“It’s very easily argued that it’s actually a superior product – higher quality, faster, stronger, and more sustainable,” Jan said. The designers say there’s still plenty of room in the Australian market for modular housing in less dramatic locations.

The company specializes in creating modular, prefabricated housing through collaboration with architects and engineers.

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