Hervey Bay Farmhouse / Owen and Vokes


Architects: Owen and Vokes
Location: Hervey Bay , Queensland, Australia
Project Team: Paul Owen, Stuart Vokes, Aaron Peters, Emma Hodgkinson, Wesley Kelder
Contractor: Fisherbuilt Homes Pty Ltd
Project Year: 2008
Photographs: Jon Linkins

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Enclosure + Comfort

Vast and open natural landscapes do not provide the conditions suitable to enduring human habitation. The infinite scale of such a landscape, without limit or border, is also immeasurable to the human body and therefore generally discomforting.

When placed in a vast and open landscape, there is a human predilection for making enclosure – a legible place which is measurable to the human eye and body, and which increases the chances for comfort and pleasure, and sustained human habitation.

Our clients purchased a large, vacant parkland site for their new family house.

site plan
site plan

Our first move was to define a place on the site within the vast and boundless landscape. An existing stand of young eucalypt, topographical nuances and preferred scenes told us where to erect an enclosure of walls. Symbolic of human intervention, the earth was benched and retained to complete the new place.

The new enclosure, a public outdoor court, idealises the presence of nature. It simultaneously offers a comfortable place to dwell (refuge), and composes a picturesque landscape (prospect) beyond the apertures in its walls.


During our first inspection of the site we came to the conclusion that we would build in brick.
We seek appropriate reactions to settings. All of the neighboring houses were built in brick and we didn’t want our clients to unnecessarily oppose the established trend.


We also seek a timeless presence in architecture. Bricks are neither pretentious nor fashionable. The bricks have been bonded in a humble way using a struck-flush mortar finish. We let sunlight embellish the large planes of red brick. As brick walls are the staple of the garden and the house, we were able to make seamless thresholds between interior and exterior realms.

We have a preference for monumentality. Bricks allowed us to anchor the house to the site and to the ground – the territory of the child, and therefore of the family.


On a simple conceptual level, we start with brick wall enclosures – poetically somewhat likened to a ruin such as those at St Helena Island. Internal and external rooms, lined in plasterboard or fibro, then occupy the enclosures.


The house is designed to accommodate 3 generations of the one family. Our second early-design conclusion was that the best way to manage the issues of independence, security and privacy, within the site, and with adjacent sites, was to house all 3 generations within the one building.


On the entry elevation, the large, centrally-placed brick screen is a shared facade that mediates depth, separation and privacy.

On the rear elevation, brick piers break the walls into 9 room-sized facades, giving each room, and therefore each generation its very own private landscape outlook.

Cite: "Hervey Bay Farmhouse / Owen and Vokes" 14 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=28741>
  • Mookie Wilson

    Nice house, bad words.

  • http://www.blog.tropicalismo360.com tropicalismo360

    @Mookie Wilson … as to the ‘words’ – something is wrong with what they teach us in architecture school
    Otherwise a great site – sloping and a perfect ‘field of view’ shape. However I would love to see what the view actually is.

    • jw

      in the text it describes this vast land… i would love to see a shot of the actual site as well. and maybe a shot of that daybed? it looks a bit peculiar when shown in plan view, but i’m sure it is a beautiful retreat in itself.

      my only complaint— is that it seems a bit dark?? i know it was the client’s request to create a sense of enclosure and privacy, but to reduce the amount of windows and create all these solid planes… not too sure. all in all– this is still a beautiful project.

  • rek

    agree with mookie wilson

  • Mark


  • http://lemur14.deviantart.com Troy Lemieur

    If I had been the architect:

    Annoying architectural literature:

    “All of the neighboring houses were built in brick and we didn’t want our clients to unnecessarily oppose the established trend.”

    Interesting architectural literature:

    “All the neighboring houses were built in brick, so the decision was made to unnecessarily f*** the established trend.”

    See? All you really need to do is get rid of the “we did this” and “we wanted that” wording, and it’s 200% better.

  • Nick

    “Poetically somewhat likened to…”? Barry McKenzie lives! Staid, grim, lacking expression, institutional. A good landscape architect required.

  • Amanda

    There are many projects of Owen and Vokes that I do have appreciation for. This is not one of my preferred however I do need to point out a detail. What happened with the slab level and the way those sliding doors sit? O & V seam very good at detailing but I don’t know what happened there. Also it makes it worse that the edge of that slab is also exposed. Maybe it wouldn’t stand out so much if you had a black edge.

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  • jimmy