The Pole House, Australia

Australia does beach houses very well indeed; 85% of the population lives within 50km of its vast coastline and its seven state capitals are all coastal cities, so the number of properties that enjoy ocean views is enormous. Whilst there are many beautiful examples of Australian coastal architecture to choose from, contemporary castles of concrete and glass, few are national icons. The Pole House, balanced above the Great Ocean Road with views out over the Southern Ocean, is one of those rare national icons – and one that is available to stay in as a holiday let no less. As the southern hemisphere tilts towards the sun and looks towards summer, we take a look at one of the best places to stay.


looking along the footbridge to the pole house above fairhaven beach on australia's great ocean road


Designed and built by architect Frank Dixon as a family holiday home in the 1970s, the original Fairhaven Pole House was demolished in 2013 and a new dwelling, designed by Franco Fiorentini from F2 Architecture, was built on the original platform that sits atop a 15 metre high concrete pole, and 40 metres above the beach. Notable for its striking and experimental design, The Pole House appeals to us here at Riz for several reasons. Firstly, it enjoys incredible 200-degree views over the ocean through full height glass windows (there are no windows on the inland side) that make the natural environment the star of the show. Why there is a television in there is a mystery to us. The Pole House also has a remarkably tiny footprint on the fragile cliff-top bushland upon which the building sits, thanks to the x-shaped concrete pole that supports it.  In comparison to its neighbours, whose entire sprawling ground floors are built directly on the ground, the square-footage of The Pole House’s living space is significantly larger than the amount of ground it physically occupies. Built on a pole as a precaution against bushfires (it has outlasted three bushfires, including the infamous 1983 Ash Wednesday blaze which razed many coastal homes in the area), its low environmental impact is a positive by-product of a functional fire-proofing design feature, but one that we appreciate.


the interior of the pole house above fairhaven beach on australia's great ocean road


Accessed via a narrow 21 metre long footbridge, the dwelling consists of a 8x8 metre living space, open-plan save for the central bathroom capsule clad in burnt ash.  There is a galley kitchen at the rear and then a large living area (featuring a suspended fireplace) and sleeping zone with a queen size bed oriented to make the most of the incredible views out over the coastline and ocean which the house seems to hover above.


the fireplace in the pole house above fairhaven beach on australia's great ocean road

the view from the bedroom at the pole house looking across fairhaven beach on australia's great ocean road


This is a property that is entirely about the view out over the ocean; everything else is secondary once you step through the front door. From where you'd rather live? Maybe not, but what a place to escape and read a few novels. 


All images courtesy of Great Ocean Road Holidays.  About to enjoy summer in the southern hemisphere?  Shop this season's shorts, right here.



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