The Concrete House in Torquay, Victoria, is an experiment in the limits of materiality. Director of Auhaus, Kate Fitzpatrick explains ‘this house is for a concreter, and the design was used as an opportunity to explore the material to its full extent.’ A concrete idea, with an experimental approach!
Nestled within the Torquay Sands golf estate, the location is connected to the wetlands and coastal environment, but also surrounded by double story neighbours, at close proximity on both sides. Kate explains ‘our clients wanted the feeling of being down the coast with big sky and ocean – they didn’t want to feel like they were in a little slice of suburbia.’ The architects worked to create an expansive feeling within the property, and cleverly framed views of the landscape to conjure a sense of isolation and environmental connection.
Kate describes the home as a ‘simple house’ – arranged around a north facing courtyard, and with a second ‘pocket entry’ courtyard at the front, allowing the house to be opened up from front to back. Roof gardens bring fresh greenery to the facade, and subdue the monumental effect of the concrete exterior. Hardwood timber interiors were also introduced to counter-balance the concrete, and bring warmth.
This impressive family home also performs as a gallery space, for the client’s wife, who is an artist. An art studio sits above the carport, clad in a semi-translucent battened screen. Kate highlights how this space ‘glows up like a lantern in the evening.’
In exploring the limits and potential of this concrete home, the architects relished the opportunity for experimentation. Kate enthuses, ‘this was a house that served as a testbed for ideas. We were offered incredible freedom in the design processes to test ideas and pursue design solutions, without knowing the definitive outcomes of these explorations.’ From this unlikely sense of flexibility, comes a concrete architectural success story – this incredible home received a commendation in the 2016 Victorian Architecture Awards 2016, and was shortlisted in the Houses Awards that same year.