original works

As a student, then as a practicing architect, Ross Thorne designed a number of domestic dwellings and commercial spaces from the mid 1950's through to 1980.

Many of the projects represent a use of diverse materials in often unusual combinations for the time.

The items below are mainly short articles with an emphasis on illustrations including photographs and, where possible, floor plans.

This page will eventually be expanded to include articles on a number of unique houses covering a period of more than 25 years.


Works selected by his architectural peers for exhibition or commendation for an award.

Exhibition by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter), Sydney:  David Jones, May 15 - June 1, 1956.

Selected for exhibition at the Arts Festival of the Olympic Games, Melbourne, Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne, 20 November – 15 December 1956.

HOUSE  AT  ST. IVES,  1958.
Exhibited by Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter), Sydney:  Blaxland Gallery, 1961.
Exhibited in "15 Sydney Homes", Melbourne:  Museum of Modern Arts, 1961.

Exhibited by Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter), Sydney:  Blaxland Gallery, 1964

Selected by Robin Boyd for the architectural exhibit at the Australian Pavilion, EXPO '67 Montreal, Canada.

Exhibited by Royal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter), Sydney:  Blaxland Gallery, 1966.

Sole commendation (no award made) for the Wilkinson Award of the R.A.I.A. (NSW Chapter), 1970.

significant early work

fox valley road house

This home at Fox Valley Road Wahroonga was selected for exhibition at the 1956 Olympic Games Arts Festival in Melbourne.


illustrated articles


House at 408 Mona Vale Road, St. Ives (1958)

Ross Thorne

3 pages (illustrated)

This was the first designed house by the author after his return from 16 months scholarship tour of the Americas and Europe, and his starting private practice in 1958. He needed the commission, but the client needed a mock “colonial” (i.e. Georgian) house. Rather than copy the individual elements of a Georgian house, the question was, “What provides the visual essence of a Colonial house without imitating 19th century design items?” The result was a modern house that satisfied the clients.

File size 2.5MB



House at 406 Mona Vale Road, St. Ives (1958/9)

Ross Thorne

9 pages (illustrated)

The house, for his parents and the author, was set back in the centre of a one hectare lot of regenerated bush.

With the prospect of having adjacent properties sub-divided, resulting in overlooking new residents, it was decided to concentrate on making the house private by turning it inwards – to make it mainly a courtyard design.

The driveway was designed to “mystify” the visitor by curving the drive between the Scribbly Gum trees and sparse sandstone shrubbery. The last bend reveals the wide, very horizontal house.

File size 8.1MB



House at Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga (1954)

Ross Thorne

5 pages (illustrated)

This was the first built house designed by the author. It was during the final year of his Batchelor of Architecture degree in 1954. It resulted from his education in the Modern Movement of architecture and received a number of accolades by selection for exhibitions and publications. The basic design criteria of addressing the aspect (sunshine) and prospect (view) simultaneously (yet both in opposite directions), is well illustrated in the photographs.

File size 7.6MB



House at Castlecove (1960)

Ross Thorne

5 pages (illustrated)

The house was an experiment in speculative good design – an experiment that failed, for it had no influence on the remaining designs of the newly sub-divided pristine bushland estate.

The house, however, was built, and addressed the rocky landscape by shaping it to fit a large rock plateau above the steep rough slope down to Middle Harbour and the view north. Due to the site being below the road the shape of the roof was considered important so as not to soil the view from the road.

File size 2.5MB



H. McKenzie Home Improvement Centre, Rhodes (1959)

Ross Thorne

4 pages (illustrated)

The timber merchant, on the edge of the Parramatta River, had moved into distributing allied building products. It needed a showroom. Fortunately, it had some spare vacant land adjacent to the main road.

The company wanted the building to use and exhibit the materials (that it sold) within its structure and construction. This was achieved with an innovative structure. All the cladding materials, except glass, were products sold. Finally, the illuminated advertising sign was designed by the author to complement the building design.

File size 1.5MB



House at Palm Beach (1963)

Ross Thorne

8 pages (illustrated)

The author’s own house started on a steeply sloping site as a batchelor’s minimal accommodation. To him, it was as close as he would get to living beside a Swiss lake, for the site overlooked a long and wide inlet from the sea.

Apart from a ground level carport the house was virtually only two rooms – a two-level living/sleeping space and a bathroom – accessed by a spiral stair.

The house was added on to in 1971 and 1976/77 to accommodate the product of activities, and guest quarters.

Included are floor plans and cross sections plus 24 photographs of various stages of development from 1963 to 1977.

File size 5.7MB



House at College Street South, Lane Cove, Sydney (1961)

Ross Thorne

3 pages (illustrated)

What does an architect do when a client insists on an “ordinary” house that any builder could have built? That was the issue with this house. The “ordinariness” was carefully manipulated to achieve a visual expression that no speculative builder would have produced.

File size 0.6MB


house at lane Cove 1961 - Ross Thorne


House at Killarney Heights, Middle Harbour, Sydney (1964)

Ross Thorne

4 pages (illustrated)

The client requirement was for a three bedroom house with study and living room, to cost no more than a builder’s project house, but be different in design to such a house.

A grid system was devised with maximum repetition of elements to provide economies of scale. It was an early example of lightly sitting a house on ground without disturbing the landscape.

File size 1.5MB



House at Whale Beach Road, Whale Beach, Sydney (1967)

Ross Thorne

8 pages (illustrated)

The young professional surfer’s requirements on a very steep lot of land, were that the one bedroom house had to be “cave-like” and use clinker bricks and slate roof. It was decided not to excavate but incorporate the rock outcrops into the design, and step the house up the steep slope.

File size 4.6MB


House at Killarney Heights 1964 - Ross Thorne


House at McCarr's Creek Road, Church Point, NSW (1965)

Ross Thorne, Julius Bokor and Chris Van Der Veer

4 pages (illustrated)

This house for builder, Chris Van Der Veer and his wife, was on a nightmare site for an architect. Half-way down the steep land-form was a cliff further down to the McCarr’s Creek headwater of Pittwater. The article describes the first idea and what eventuated. It shows its close relationship to the topographic and vegetal environments.

File size 3MB


Ross Thorne House at McCarr's Creek Road Church Point


Memories of an Acoustic Consultant, 1961 to 1980.

Ross Thorne

16 pages (illustrated)

Previously unpublished

This memoir describes an interest in acoustics from my final year in architecture, starting acoustic consulting in 1961, and my working with the pre-eminent acoustic consultant, H. Vivian Taylor (Melbourne), and psychologist, John Metcalfe, for the design of recording studios. Most work otherwise was commissioned by Joseland & Gilling.

File size 832KB


Ross Thorne House at McCarr's Creek Road Church Point


House at 2a Burns Road, Wahroonga, Sydney (1968)

Ross Thorne

10 pages (illustrated)

This house, for the author’s parents had the quite special requirements of separate quarters for each parent, and had to retain most of the trees and growth on the site. It was designed as a set of visual experiences from the street through to each suite of accommodation and the centrally placed living room.

File size 5.9MB


house at Burns Road Wahroonga 1968 - Ross Thorne