Ich bin ein McMansionheller!

If you are anything like us, you cry salty tears of mirth and recognition when perusing mcmansionhell.com. The way Kate Wagner offers architectural critique reaches far beyond the easy (and somewhat uninformed snobby) utterances of “It’s just not cool” into the realm of social, political and economic discourse with triumphant humor. She understands the McMansion as a tool employed to boast of moderate wealth and fill holes of self-esteem in situ, free from any deeper design or construction considerations and contemplates their ultimate symbolism of pre-GFC house-as-investment culture which continues to permeate our own country like a virus, all in between outrageously hilarious stabs at bitter families living beneath the chandeliers and marble veneer. If you’d like to hear her in fine action listen to episode #27 of US Modernist Radio.
Last year we fawningly wrote to McMansion Hell, informing Wagner about own MCM battles across the Pacific, which elicited this lovely response;

“Thank you!! This is a super important issue, and I’m glad that you and your colleagues have taken up arms against it in such a public and successful way. You have my full endorsement, and godspeed to you all. Also, I didn’t realize there was such a large number of vibrant MCM buildings in Australia. I’m totally hooked.”


But wait – you say – that link to her website doesn’t work.
And you’d be correct.
Let us explain.
In a similar way we use images of real estate listings to promote our bounty of Australian MCM properties currently on the market or for lease, McMansion Hell does the same – albeit with a more *ahem* educational spin. And it seems inevitable now that the sooky la-la McManion set suddenly feel that their repugnant status castles are beyond critique, that they are more important than any artwork or any celebrities commented about in the daily media and MUST. NOT. BE. LAUGHED. AT. Zillow, that North American real estate UX horrorshow (say what you like about our nation’s real estate websites but hol-y they are a joy to navigate compared to Zillow) have taken steps to lawyer up and come down on Kate Wagner for using their images, as it maybe violates their agreements with the afore mentioned sooky la-las. As a single voice in the entire USA websphere and just making her way in it, Wagner has sadly but prudently taken down McMansionhell.com, until this whole mess can be sorted out.

Can you even fathom such thin-skinned objection to dissenting ideas? Dissenting ideas about architecture?
We at MA, here and now, claim our place next to McMansion Hell, stand up for them (and us) and all who question our built environment, our ‘economic values’ and call out this absurdity for what it is – arbitrary censorship by snowflake. But in the current climate of the USA, it seems winter has well and truly arrived.

Bruce Rickard Kickstarter – 1 day to go!

Max Dupain, Swimming Pool, Rickard House I
Cover image – Max Dupain, Exterior Perspective, Curry House II

For those who came in late – we need to note immediately that the sensational Kickstarter project to have the archive of Sydney School, Modernist Australian architect Bruce Rickard (1929 -2010) published into a complete tome has reached its goal and there is only one more day to get on board and secure yourself a slice of printed Australian architectural history. And what a book! Never publicly seen plans, sketches, written perspectives from former clients, academics and colleagues (perhaps best of all) glorious Max Dupain photography to send you a spin of pure joy at one of our great unsung architectural legacies which evolved as a response to our own unique environment and climate.


Bruce Rickard, Sketch Design Floor Plan, Evatt House

This Kickstarter project is the hard work of Cracknell & Lonergan Architects, who maintain a close relationship with the Rickard family and hold the physical archive of his 60 year long and much lauded career, so we know this project is certainly in accomplished and anointed hands. Get your copy and support our Australian MCM history right here, right now!

‘Dobyn House’ 270 Springvale Road, Donvale VIC

Steven Coverdale* has sounded the bell, so gather around people and bear witness to this – one of those handful-a-year properties in which all sense of decorum flies away and one starts pacing, perspiring, heavy breathing and plotting. What looks to be an original 5 bedder, with pool and stunning tree coverage (on 1 acre actually) in the inexplicably high-finance hills of Donny and built round 1969 this is a dreamscape for lovers, like us, who revere Graeme Gunn and his gumnut solid forays of later stage, Australian Modernist living. Coverdale in his assessment suggests the influence of Ken Woolly and we’d agree, though that sublime fireplace/living room reminds us immediately of another Melbourne beloved, the heritage listed Godsell House *sigh*. Though all this having been said and all this monumental gorgeousness before our very eyes does not negate this home’s vulnerability. Donvale has more than its fair share of self styled, cashed up, amoral wankers who’d sooner see this demolished or ‘renovated’ for some impersonal flip gain, much like this nearby Chancellor and Patrick tragedy we highlighted earlier this year. So we’d like to make this clear right now – anyone who even thinks of such actions, let alone tries to execute them be warned; we’ll come for you in the night and not in the good way. This this home is pure untouchable and deserves nothing less than humble adoration.

*We’d like to credit Steven for post floor plan historical images, by Peter Wille.

45 Weston Street, Revesby NSW

Thanks to Modernist John for this heads up. Though more demure on the inside than that wildly rich street frontage promises, what it may lack on the kitchen/ bathroom front, it more than makes up for in singularly composed floor plan, straight as they come construction and such overall clever simplicity (oh those bedrooms with their own courtyard access!), so muchs as to suggest an architect must have been at work here. Suffice to say the same owners for 54 years have treated their clearly beloved home with utmost care and it would be terrific to think it could be passed onto a new generation to love and enhance what is already a beautiful residence.

‘Frank House’ 5 Patula Place, Menora WA

It’s always thrilling to see an Iwanoff stride onto the market. Yet another glorious work from Perth’s hometown boy. Having undergone a little do-up which is, for the most part wonderful in its respect for the home (minor quibble – we would have used real breeze block), this is another for which photos (albeit kinda wonky ones) are better than any of our words- click away, enjoy today!

141 The Esplanade, Mount Pleasant WA

In spite of the rather bodge photography, the clean Modernist ethos and bright 60s flourishes shine through on this little buddy. A little TLC could really bring this one back though sadly we don’t think it will survive. Let us remain optimistic (the mining boom is over right?). This house will always be here with us in spirit, if not in reality, in any case.

23 Alden Ct, Cheltenham VIC

It is quite astonishing how such a (albeit wonderful) refurb can secure the future of any domestic building. We have no doubt if this was a rundown, un-landscaped house, filed with the remnants of musty furniture and the pool emptied out – we’d see nothing but areal land size shots in the sales pitch. No talk of family friendly design, character, north facing backyards nor clever tri-access bathrooms though these attributes would always be present, regardless of actual condition. Once again the survival of our classic suburban MCM streetscapes comes down to an enlightened and generous few who can see beyond surface and, with a deft hand and creative eye, draw out the best of these homes educating others on their intrinsic beauty and value. Bravo people and keep it up!