Tor Zone

Artist in Residence in Australia

Design Studio, University of New South Wales

Instructor: Glenn Murcutt, Ian Martin


Having left the urban sprawl of Sydney, we enter the increasing vastness of the outer-rural setting, witnessing the shifting features of the Australian landscape. From the idyllic, verdant forests to the gently undulating farmland, we finally reach the thirst-stricken region strewn with outcrops of granite tors. Lacking any adulteration or decoration, the tors portray truth and innocence. Their rugged faces speak to us of time and seasons. Our architecture has this landscape as its backdrop, becoming an opportunity for people to engage with, experience and contemplate this otherworldly place.


The design preserves the natural qualities of the land, while responding to site conditions and human needs. The complex meanders along the contours of the tors, now and then in dialogue with them and accentuating their significance; it allows the rock to mark the beginning, form the path and be the destination. Along the rambling journey, there occasionally appear gardens and courtyards of various sizes. These are protected from the prevailing south-westerly winter winds, but welcome the north-easterly summer breezes. They act as the threshold between outdoor and indoor, private and public, architecture and nature.

Self-Sustaining System

As the site is remote from infrastructure and often experiences extreme weather conditions, special attention has been paid to water and energy supply, and waste-management systems. Rainwater tanks collect water directly from the roofs, the area of which was specifically calculated so that the amount of water is sufficient to sustain all occupants and gallery visitors throughout the year even in dry seasons.

Material and structure

A natural resource in the region, rammed-earth is economical, heat-retaining, durable and recyclable. Aesthetically, the earthen walls possess warm tones and rich textures that echo the land and blend with the landscape. Together with the ground itself, they act as a backdrop to the rocks and trees.