Building a single storey house down a sloping site can create massing challenges for the designer because it puts the bulk of its roof directly in or below the line of sight from the street.

Victorian building design outfit, Vibe Design Group faced this very challenge at a recent project of theirs at the Mornington Peninsula suburb of Sorrento but came up with a neat solution to the problem.

Had Vibe chosen conventional hip or gables for Sorrento House 1, its roof bulk would have been in full sight from the street and could have potentially over powered other aspects of the building’s façade. Instead the team decided to break the roof mass into two gently tapered, asymmetrical forms to reduce its solidness and to tie it in with the building’s exterior walls.

Vibe also custom-designed the roof’s profile, guttering and finish detail to further control its visual impact, or as Vibe director Michael O'Sullivan puts it, “change what could have been a negative aspect of the home into a positive one.”

The roof at Sorrento House 1, says Vibe, also provides some of the key elements of the traditional beach house. Its oversized eaves at its entry and rear provide the same relief for its occupants in different prevailing conditions as the veranda and decks of the traditional beach house would.


Beyond the roof, Vibe also devoted attention to the building’s front façade detailing, again to control its visual impact from the street. They used two sizes of hardwood timber cladding, vertically aligned and with varied spacing, to create a simple monolithic façade that serves a number of purposes.


Wider boards with no spacing transition to smaller battens with large spacing as the wall wraps towards the entry of the building. The wider boards conceal the garage door and also direct traffic towards the entry where the façade is more penetrable, while the thinner battens provide privacy to the front-of-house nursery and gym.

While there is a lot more to Sorrento House 1 than its entry, first impressions do last and Vibe is obviously conscious of this. They’ve avoided a potentially over-powering street presence with a combination of massing strategy, attention to detail and high-quality building materials.

Sorrento House 1 is currently being considered for the 2016 Building Designers Association of Victoria (BDAV) Building Design Awards. See all of its competitors here.


James Hardie Australia, Scyon Matrix

Tait Timber, Spotted Gum & Blackbutt Timber                       

Thermeco & European Window Co., double glazed and thermally broken, black anodised aluminium frames

BlueScope Lysaght Corrugated Roofing in ‘Windspray’   Colorbond

Designer Doorware

Caesarstone, kitchen benchtop and splashback in ‘Raw Concrete’

FLOORING & CARPET              
Tait Timber, Engineered T & G flooring