Mt Buller Apres-ski Chalet

Mt Buller, Victoria
Completed in 2023

Transforming unusable space into illuminating features created a luxury and relaxing après-ski experience.

When the roof on Mike and Keryn’s ski villa was upgraded, it created a new second-floor attic with a triangular window that filled the space with northern light. The couple engaged us to design the attic and access stair – but we spotted a shining opportunity to dramatically improve their whole villa and après-ski experience. Attached on three sides and facing southwest, the 35-sqm villa was compact, dark and always artificially lit. We turned unusable space into illuminating features to create a warm and luxurious, relaxing home where our clients could relax after a day on the slopes.

Our design began with the impractical attic space at the roof and wall junction. Too low for any significant use or storage, it was wasted space, but filled with natural light. We removed a section of the attic floor to create a double-height void over the first floor. Taking advantage of the volume and light, we moved the
kitchen, dining and living from the ground floor to first floor. We also moved the façade one metre forward, and installed larger windows, to maximise the internal space and outdoor connections.

By elevating the living room, it now has treetop views. These snow gums and the alpine surrounds inspired the soft interior palette, with grey furnishings, timber joinery, thick carpet and a brick fireplace creating a natural and cosy atmosphere.

Every inch and corner are crucial in small-footprint planning, so we designed the galley kitchen and attic staircase to occupy the same space. The custom dining table also serves double duty. Glass panels in the tabletop and floor let light into the downstairs bunkroom, which has no windows, and the chain-link table base illuminates a fiery glow – as if mimicking the real fireplace.

The front bedroom downstairs has a built-in nook where Mike can watch the snow rabbits – a favourite
pastime while he’s at the villa. There are also two bathrooms downstairs – one with a laundry, which was previously in a cramped basement. Upstairs, the attic has a bedroom and ensuite, and a study overlooking the void.

The extreme alpine conditions required durable, low-maintenance materials for the exterior, and meant the efficient operation of the house was critical. The air-locked mudroom (with custom ski racks), thermally broken double glazing and heat recovery system vastly improve the villa’s insulation, comfort and energy efficiency.

By maximising the compact footprint and reconfiguring the layout, we are immensely proud to have bought a greater abundance of space and light to the villa, creating a luxurious and relaxing place that Mike and Keryn love coming home to after a day of skiing.

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