Oikos at Breakneck Gorge


  • Robert Nichol and sons


Set on a striking elevation just outside Hepburn Springs, Oikos, named after the ancient Greek word for home, is an indulgent short-stay retreat.

Oikos evokes the red centre of this great southern land – it’s dramatic, sculptural form both complementing and disappearing into the rugged precipice on which it stands.

The retreat is subtle in scale yet rich in design, offering the best in built architectural form and natural landscape setting.

Key Features


Oikos is located on the crest of Breakneck Gorge, a sprawling 20-hectare property that takes in spectacular views of Hepburn Springs and Daylesford.

From the outset, orientation was a major consideration in Oikos’ design solution.

The sculptural, rock-face like northern façade, unpunctuated by windows, faces the owner’s home. This clever positioning and design creates privacy for both guests and owners, ensuring Oikos looks out instead to the stunning views below.

The prevalence of dramatic west-facing windows required targeted shading, including a finely detailed pergola and deeply shrouded windows.


Designed and built with an understated yet heartfelt generosity, Oikos is a unique offering to the local market.

Oikos was an ambitious project from the outset, its scope increasing as the design progressed and the site’s potential was realised.

That care is evident in every detail both internally and externally with an emphasis on natural finishes used with creative results.

From this rigorous design process has emerged a maintenance free yet architecturally enhanced building to be shared with the general public.


Clever design has made the most of a compact floorplan that ensconces without ever feeling claustrophobic. At just 70sq/m Oikos delivers small footprint living with a true sense of luxury.

Every element of this project is tailor-made and designed to enrich the user experience – from the furnishing selection and the angled timber ceilings, to the treetop views glimpsed from the floating bed.

A meticulous and holistic focus on luxury ensures this ambitious design pulls off the ultimate trick – disguising it’s complexity to look so simple in its completion.


As Breakneck Gorge was an exposed site, durability and stability were initial drivers in Oikos’s design process. The site’s prominence also called for a design that would speak to the land – not distract from it.

Corten steel answered these issues of durability and disguise, ensuring longevity while not dominating the sensitive landscape. Installation difficulties for the complex design were dealt with by on site fabrication.

Innovative internal finishes – including tiled ceilings, marble slab thresholds and floating steel bed – complement the external design complexity.

The user experience is rich in design from the very first glimpse.


The design is well naturally ventilated with operable louvres and makes use of natural light with strategically placed expansive picture windows.

The design integrates and engages well with the exterior, through large operable sliding panels and viewing options from every room.

The design avoids wasting precious floor area on dedicated circulation space with rooms flowing from one after the other.

The design uses almost only natural finishes and materials both externally and internally – robust enough to withstand user treatment whilst providing a quality setting.

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