St Ives NSW
Originally named ‘First Rock’ and located on the edge of Sydney’s Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in St Ives, the Thorne House was designed by architect Ross Thorne in 1959 as a home for his parents with a studio for himself.
It was one of Thorne’s early projects, influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Spanish courtyard houses, both of which he had admired on a recent travelling scholarship. His design incorporates a series of interlocking courtyards and frameless glass sliding panels that allowed appealing indoor and outdoor vistas. In addition, the concrete block construction, glowing Queensland maple joinery and polished terrazzo floors of river pebbles are all features of the house.
The property was sold to the Olsson family in 1968 who still resided in the house when it was photographed in 2001. A new dining room was created in 1974 at the same time that the verandah off the entrance courtyard was enclosed as a sunroom and the Olssons toned down some of the original colour scheme.
The Thorne House is one of five houses and one site of a former house photographed for ‘Fifties houses: plus or minus?’, an exhibition held at Rose Seidler House in 2001. Each of these houses had featured in the 1961 exhibition, 15 Houses by Sydney Architects. The 2001 exhibition asked the questions: ‘Forty years on, what has happened to the… Sydney houses? Have they ‘stood the test of time’, been adapted or conserved, loved or lost?’
Jennifer Taylor, An Australian identity: houses for Sydney 1953-63, Dept. of Architecture, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1972.
Geoffrey London, Philip Goad, Conrad Hamann, 150: an unfinished experiment in living: Australian houses 1950-65, UWA Publishing, Crawley WA, 2017.
Royal Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter, 15 houses by Sydney architects: exhibition, Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 1961.
Fifties houses: plus or minus?: exhibition held from 28 October 2001 at Rose Seidler House [exhibition brochure], Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Sydney, 2001.