The Laurie Short house is one of the first houses designed by Glenn Murcutt after establishing his own practice: 'Because I had little work, my brother asked me to design his house instead of buying a project home, and then Laurie Short came and I did his house and both buildings won awards. And then Marie Short came to me for the Crescent Head House, then a whole series of things started to happen...'[Marcus Trimble, 'Glenn Murcutt', Architecture Australia, January 2012].
These early houses established Murcutt's signature approach to domestic architecture. Like most of the thirty or so houses he has designed, they consist of a minimalist pavilion, recalling Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson's Glass House. Murcutt's adaptation of these Modernist archetypes showed the potential of a house reduced to two horizontal planes of floor and roof plus an expressed but vestigial frame. The minimalist pavilion increased potential relationships to site, views, light and climate, and Murcutt experimented constantly with these relationships. Effectively each Murcutt house is tuned to its location. The details of these houses vary considerably and usually include off-the-shelf manufactured components and materials. Adjustable louvres, sliding screens and multiple, adjustable building skins are frequent solutions for insulation, privacy and ventilation.
In this case a feature of the house is an external steel frame, a response to house's siting in an area vulnerable to bushfires. As well as its steel and glass envelope, the house is situated on a brick field while a roof top pool provides both insulation and fire protection. The black frame creates a vivid contrast with the white, glazed interior.
Charles Pickett, Curator Design and Built Environment.