The Pole House, suspended in space
Franco Fiorentini F2 Architecture
Signorino Tile Gallery
The Pole House is a residence suspended at a height of 40 metres above Fair Haven beach, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. One of the most photographed architectural projects in the area offering a 360 degree view of the ocean, it is an iconic house designed in the 1970s by architect and engineer Frank Dixon and completely renovated in 2007 by Australian architect Franco Fiorentini from F2 Architecture.
Sold by the Dixon family to Kathi and Raynold Adams for 1.75 million dollars in 2005, the Pole House floats amongst the clouds supported by a 15 metre high concrete pillar and has an 8 by 8 metre perimeter surrounded by a balcony with a glass railing.
The materials chosen to replace the typically seventies wood and wallpaper had to be reliable and hard-wearing to guarantee the durability and structural integrity of the building. The floor coverings consist of a natural dark grey coloured ceramic tile with a characteristic lava stone look. Chosen from the Basaltina Stone Project line from Lea Ceramiche, this full-body porcelain tile emulates Basaltina stone and takes on different colours according to the finishing operations performed. The honed finish chosen for the Pole House gives the space a minimalist look in perfect harmony with the surround environment, including the suspended fireplace. The 60×120 cm modules enhance the surface, creating a sharp separation from the natural elements surrounding the building. Built before the use of computers and mobile phones, the Pole House is a sentinel looking out over the ocean and has become a familiar landmark for both locals and visitors. It has weathered storms and survived a devastating fire that swept the coast in 1983. Its new owners describe it as « anonymously famous », while the decision in 2007 to completely remodel it – almost to the point of demolition – initially shocked the elderly architect who had originally designed it and lived there for years. But the intervention of designer Franco Fiorentini, who worked on the project for 13 months, further improved what was already an exceptional structure, using glass to accentuate the sensation of floating and living suspended about the ground.
A number of design choices help to make the house unique. The taps are fitted with LED filters with temperature sensors, the sofa reclines and stretches out at the touch of a button, the window panels are electrically controlled and the lights turn on and off with a wave of the hand. The colours of the ocean and the sky blend together during the daylight hours and permeate the interior of the house, giving it a different mood according to their intensity and colours. But the fifty-kilometre coastline is just part of the landscape, the rest consisting of the waves and blue of the ocean and the lush green of the hinterland. For visitors wishing to experience the unique lifestyle offered by the Pole House, the owners let it for a fee of between 3,000 and 5,000 dollars a week – waiting list permitting!
Lea Ceramiche, Basaltina Stone Project
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,04%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): uha, ula
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 50 N/mm2
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant