Framed by Earth & Sky - The Torquay House by Luke Fry
Torquay, VIC, Australia
At the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in an estate on Melbourne’s Bellarine Peninsula, the Torquay House by Luke Fry turns away from the adjacent suburban context. Oriented toward the views across the golf course, the design is framed by expanses of earth and sky.
“The site context is a defining element of the project,” says Luke. “Once inside, you cannot see another building at all, while the site is completely protected from the south-west prevailing winds.” The site is also what drew the clients, a retired couple, from Melbourne to Torquay. “They travel regularly, love surfing and golf. It’s the perfect environment for them,” Luke explains.
The design approach, therefore, focused on amplifying the unique elements of the location while protecting the home from the suburban streetscape. “The orientation to the view, blocking out the neighbouring buildings and protection from the weather led us to an ideal solution which works very well,” Luke reflects. Carefully-positioned openings are key to concealing and revealing aspects of the site, while a combination of batten screening and dark masonry walls create a protective outer shell.
Divided into two storeys, every room on the lower level immediate connection to the landscape, either directly or from the very moment one steps out of that room. “The view hits you in the face, it’s absolutely stunning and so unique to the context of the site,” says Luke. The upper level is designed as guest accommodation, with views focusing on the horizon and window sills raised from the floor to further emphasise the lines of sight.
This double-storey structure creates a series of stacked volumes inspired by Richard Neutra’s iconic Kaufmann House, with dark brickwork forming a solid base and a barestone-clad upper section creating a textural contrast. This subtle contrast in materials and tone exemplifies Luke Fry’s approach to materiality. An emphasis on durable, time-honoured materials grounds the design, with a minimalist sensibility that is enlivened by layers of texture.
Above all, the project is driven by a belief in the value of materials that will stand the test of time. “We focus on honest and proven materials to produce an edited palette, which creates a refined simplicity,” explains Luke. “We keep it very simple, concrete, brick, stone, timber, steel, glass. It will look as good in 100 years as it does today.”
While the combination of exposed concrete, brick and glass lends the Torquay House a sense of substance and mass that is appropriate to the expanse of the surrounding landscape, “our work is best appreciated at the human scale,” says Luke. “The look, feel, touch, function of that element you use every day – it could be a handrail detail or the position of a window so the light hits the right spot when you read your Sunday paper,” he continues. In this way, layers of texture and tactile materials such as timber and natural stone in the kitchens and bathrooms, a window seat in the living space or the experience of diffused natural light from the skylight above the shower create a sense of connection between the inhabitants and the design.
Focusing on the human experience of the structure and the home’s connection to the landscape, the Torquay House displays a contextually-responsive approach design. The result is a home designed to create a low-maintenance coastal lifestyle for the clients in a refined and considered example of architecture that enhances the lives of its inhabitants while shaping and enhancing an experience of place.