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Sorrento House

Sorrento House by Robert Mills Architects,This a contemporary Palladian villa that unashamedly takes its lead from the great seaside villas but adds an ultra-modernist twist. Sorrento showcases the core ingredients of modern Rob Mills design: a monochromatic palette of exposed concrete and honed basalt; a seamless marriage between its raw elements and the coastal landscape.Immaculately crafted and highly sophisticated yet dressed in the casual clothes of a beach house.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-03-759x749 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

The Client’s brief was to build a home that was a great entertaining space as well as one that could expand to accommodate friends and family. This Sorrento beach house, is more than generous in terms of both the accommodation it provides and the volume of those spaces.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-04-759x749 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

Concrete was used at the owner’s request; he asked for a dwelling that felt more durable and permanent than the usual timber beach house, but one that still embodied a casual nature. Rob Mills responded by designing a building with an interior that was completely unadorned and, in his words, reasonably pure in form — a quality embodied in traditional Japanese architecture and the ancient stone monastries of the south of France.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-05-759x749 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

There is a Zen-like stillness to the monochromatic interior, with exposed pre-formed concrete panel walls, honed basalt floors and pale grey ceilings. Any elements within the space, such as the living room fireplace, are simple geometric forms.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-06-759x749 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

Innovation / Need:

The 1600sqm block on which the house stands faces almost due north and slopes to the street. To make the most of the northerly orientation the house was pushed back on the block to maximise the area of sunny private open space in front of the building. The convention is to put the living space at the back of the house, but we put it where the sun is, which sometimes means the reverse,” says Mills. “This had to be a great entertaining house, and the large living area, outdoor terrace and pool had to open up as one space.”

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-07 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

With no expansive views to capture, the first floor is dedicated to sleeping quarters. The ground floor is entirely given over to living space, with an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area opening onto a north-facing terrace edged with a swimming pool. At one end of the terrace is an outdoor living area centred around a towering fireplace; at the other is an alfresco dining and cooking area, with an outdoor bar. When the doors to the terrace are open, the living area more than doubles in size.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-09 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter


Utilising the natural slope of the site, a drop from the pool terrace to the garden below negates the need for a pool fence, while leaving the view from the house unimpeded and offering the owners privacy from the street.

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© Earl Carter

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-11 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter


Many of the materials used were sourced locally, the terrace pergola is made from recycled hardwood, over which canvas awnings are strung during hot weather.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-10 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

Energy-efficient features include a smart lighting system, solar heated pool and motorised oversize exterior window louvres, which provide natural light and ventilation. The concrete walls and basalt floors provide thermal mass.

Sorrento-House-By-Robert-Mills-Architects-02-759x749 Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects

© Earl Carter

Project Data:

Project name: Sorrento House
Location: Sorrento, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates: n/a

  • Type By Characteristic: Contemporary House
  • Type By Site: Beach House
  • Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Concrete House

Project Area: 1600 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Completion Year: 2011


  • 2012 – Melbourne Design Awards – Residential architecture – finalists
  • 2012 – Australian Interior Design Awards – Best of State Residential Design – Winner
  • 2011 – Belle/Coco Republic Interior Design Awards – Best Residential Interior – Finalist
  • 2011 – WAN Awards – Interior Design – Residential – Shortlisted
  • 2011 – International Design Awards – Interior Design – Residential – Silver Residential Award
  • 2011 – Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA Awards) – Single Residential – Shortlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Robert Mills Architects – 3/34 Kellett St, Potts Point NSW 2011, Australia
Interior Designer: Robert Mills
Furniture: Hub Furniture, Parterre Gardens
Art: Scott Livesey Galleries
Text Description: © Courtesy of Robert Mills Architects, melbournedesignawards
Images: © Earl Carter

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Sorrento House / Robert Mills Architects
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