Torbreck Apartment

Residential & Community

This renovation of a small unit interior was an exercise in reprogramming a compact 1950’s interior in response to contemporary needs and living patterns.


When completed in 1959, the heritage listed “Torbreck” was Australia’s first high rise residential tower; a modernist building very much ‘of its time’. Archipelago’s 2009 refit of this 50m2 one bedroom apartment reorganizes the apartment program into two boxes – one of timber and one of glass – with the living space prioritised and pushed up against the view.

The design tackles the fundamental problem of a small apartment – not enough space/how to make it feel bigger! This is achieved through more efficient planning – we forced the space to “multi-task”– and consideration of the diurnal modes of living to overlap functions ( you can’t for instance, appreciate the view when you are asleep). Strategically the timber and glass box elements are conceived as objects within, rather than boundaries to the space – as furniture pieces rather than enclosures. And yes at least some of the magic is done with mirrors.

Archipelago’s 2009 refit was an exercise in staying true to the modernist spirit of the original – an effort in finding the form to follow the function (of living in the 21st century).