About Torbreck

This project began in 2005, a few years after my partner moved into a unit in the Garden Block. He lived in Torbreck for ten years, offering access to the building´s unique character. Torbreck was also home to a number of close friends, extending our understanding of the social networks within the building.In 2005 approval was given to develop the properties beside Torbreck. A new ten story building threatened to change its unique presence within the urban landscape. I engaged in a race to document this fascinating landmark complex. Wishing to share the resulting photographs with a wider audience I began building a website with the graphic design company designfront. The supporting historical and academic information and the time–lapse film complement and inform my images of the complex for the virtual visitor. 2009 is the Jubilee year for Torbreck.The Creative Sparks Grant supporting this project is a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

Torbreck Thesis by Susan Ferguson.
The thesis is in 13 sections (each around 9MB) please contact Andrea Higgins or the Architecture and Music Library for additional sections. You may view the print copy of the thesis in the Architecture and Music Library, Zelman Cowen Building (No.51) at The University of Queensland

Torbreck 24 hrs

On Saturday afternoon 4.30pm 2 May Johnny Moubrarak and Andrea Higgins began a collaborative documentation of the Torbreck building in Highgate Hill. Selecting a dramatic view of the building, a high–resolution jpeg file was captured every 15 seconds for a 20 hour period to create a 4 min short movie.

The resulting short film shows the building over the course of a day, allowing the building to be a true heroic star. The beautiful natural light, dynamic movement of clouds and the sparkling effect of simply turning on the lights at night create a mesmerizing moving document

Johnny an emerging Brisbane film making talent who has a personal interest in the time lapse technique undertook the technical management of this project. Additionally he edited the 4000 images to create the resulting short film.

Credits: Moubment film animation


Below is a list of newspaper articles starting from 1957.
Click link to download a pdf.

Oct  27 1957 �750,000 Block of "Home-Units"
Sep 10 1958 Novel building method for Torbreck
Sep 10 1958 Work begins on new home plan
May 28 1959 Torbreck´s talk with R-Murry
Feb 12 1959 Going Up–That´s Torbreck
Jun  08 1959 Ad for Torbreck
Jan  08 1960 First Stage Ready
Apr  09 1960 New luxury penthouse has a fine view
Oct  16 1960 Spurt to end Torbreck job
Dec 11 1960 Torbreck owners to go in–army style
Sep 13 1961 Mother and son have designed family´s penthouse
Dec 15 1999 Heritage Listing bid for highrise block opposed
circa 1957 Torbreck–a new concept in modern living.

Historical photographs

Torbreck, at 182 Dornoch Terrace, Highgate Hill, Brisbane, is Queensland´s first residential high–rise building. Prior to construction of the complex of Tower and Garden Blocks, which made Australian architectural history, was a house built in the 1870s. This original 19thC "gentleman�s residence" on two acres was named Torbreck meaning in Gaelic, "the place on the hill."

A fencer from western Queensland in the1950s, whose grandmother owned the sloping northerly site on Highgate Hill with its view to Brisbane City Hall across the Brisbane River, initiated the concept for a high–rise.

Local architects Aubrey Job and Robert Froud made Rowley Pym´s dream a reality, stunning first their colleagues and then all of Brisbane with a modern design, 20 level complex influenced by international trends.

The selection of historical photographs show the model for the building, the complex in the process of being built, views from the site and of the surrounding suburbs and the finished two–part complex n the early 1960s.

View photographs

The Torbreck Project

For further information about the Photographer
Andrea Higgins please download any of the PDF´s below.

Curatorial CV
Photographic Exhibition CV
Work History CV
Short Bio

Project contact

Please contact Andrea Higgings by email.



jubilee logoTorbreck wineArts QueenslandBCCCreative Sparks

Torbreck´s Jubilee

Since 1959 when Torbreck´s first residents moved in, Torbreck has provided the �gracious living� promised by developers to prospective owners and so carefully designed into each unit by Mr Job and Mr Froud. Although not all of the features in the initial concept became a reality, resident shareholders have always been immensely proud of the iconic 1950s Brisbane landmark they own collectively though Torbreck Home Units Limited. This is especially true in its Jubilee year. Heritage–listed in 2000, Torbreck deserves to be treasured and now Andrea´s marvellous photographs of our much–loved building share its architectural excellence with the wider world. Jubilee celebrations will close in May 2010 with a photographic exhibition focussing on the people of Torbreck, with works by Madeleine Marx–Bentley, currently undertaking (with funding from the State Government's Q150 programme) the Torbreck 50th Anniversary Photographic Portrait Project.

We´ll keep you posted about our Jubilee activities.
Regards from the Shareholders & residents of Torbreck.

Listen to the Torbreck song © Laurie Manitzky 2009

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