For those of you still mopping up the lather from viewing Restoration Australia lastSunday night and the magical craftsmanship and decorative zing indicative of our Marvellous Migrant Modernism, then cast your eye back Melbourne way for another helping. ‘Light House’ (c.1967) was a commission for Polish émigré architect turned Studley Park fixture, Kurt Elsner for Samuel and Helen Light and like so many bagel belt offerings is in excellent original condition. A typical to type, flat-roofed, solid brick construction consisting a simple, expansive set of spaces, flourishes of carved timber motif and gorgeous personal touches such as the opaque screens for bathroom facilities, it would be not only a pleasure but a privilege to inhabit such an elegant and finely conceived residence. Let’s hope many others see it in the same way.
They call it A ‘fifedom’, with those 14 car garaging we prefer the term ‘Bond-villain lair’ but in either case enjoy Freaky Friday with a 1960s, hinterland property – a rather unusual, yet we believe successful, combo of sub-tropical rainforest views, low-sling Modern lines and Frank Lloyd Wright- esq fireplace.
Oh our stars! This is exactly the type of real estate offering which kick started Modernist Australia in the first place – incredible Mid-Century style, progressive, modest yet exhilarating design, jaw-dropping original interiors but also the pit-of-the-stomach fear that it’s in grave danger. Though its architect is as yet unknown (solved! See update 2 below) we don’t need a big name attached to know it commands saving and restoring. That parquetry, hardwood ceiling, mosaic kitchen tile and of course, that simply awe-inspiring suspended fireplace. These are all features which if to be rebuilt would cost an absolute fortune, yet here they are in lovely condition in an all round breathtaking residence. The lack of photos, floorplan, it’s location (one of the most deadly for original MCM homes in the country) and general encouragement of destruction from the agent (grrrr) sounds the alarm. People! Someone! Anyone! Please take over this home and treat it with the love and care which has seen it through thus far, for it is a gorgeous landmark and must be preserved!
Shout out to Steven Coverdale and his gang at MCDA for unearthing this one.
**Update** Thanks to Simon Reeves who has scratched up the existing plans (c.1957). Mr Reeves has commented elsewhere that in a heritage study some years ago he recommended this little section of Orion St would be worthy of protection as a heritage precinct.
Of course, they paid no heed to that.
**Update2** Current tenant Tim has contributed some pics and commentary on unseen aspects; “These photos are OK but it doesn’t get across how good this place is to live in. There are some fantastic design features in this place…………These concrete steps up from the garage are cantilevered. These stairs run up the side of a 90 degree pie shaped conical grotto, lined with volcanic rock. This area is always shaded and remains cool on the hottest days….”
Update 2 – Architect discovered to be one Mr P.P. Packer.
After all the heady offerings in both history and pricing of late, we though it due for a little palate cleanser. Something simple, something humble, in less illustrious location and with a logical level of attainability. This lovely 1960s home with crisp, low-slung lines and great Modern elements – including that jaunty breeze blocked carport/courtyard and floor to ceiling glazing, blue brick masonry and neat-o original condition – has so much going for it. It’s all ready and waiting for a little love and attention from the right peeps.
*Update* We’ve added a few earlier shots when last sold – if only to showcase that awesome feature fireplace spotted by an eagle-eyed reader – lamentably now disappeared.
Our personal connection to Barwon Heads, in fact this very stretch, is as complex as the estuary system it rests within, but one thing we have always known for sure it that this residence, a combination of location and pedigree Australian Modern design, is the best in town. And where most of ‘The Heads’ has been touched one way or another by the new century’s influx of wealth and vanity this place remains unchanged. You will find intact the moonah trees (sadly cleared off most sold holdings in the least 20 years), the huge block undivided and most of revealing of all this house – the work of Modernist Australian legend Neil Clerehan – virtually the same as when built*. How long this situation stays as is, is but a matter of time however we’d implore anyone with the finances to purchase in this most exclusive of enclaves to find this splendid home worthy of holding onto as it offers something more than most – a private, unassuming yet glorious celebration of the simple beauty of place.
*Massive kudos to Fletchers for highlighting first and foremost the architectural heritage of this residence, way above all other vapid selling points (& S.T.C.A) so regularly given priority by others in this sufin’ burg.
Everyone’s favourite architect ’bout town, Stuart Harrison, walks onto the box tomorrow night in a triumphant return of ABC’s Restoration Australia. Triumphant because he’ll be profiling the remarkable rebuild of Iwan Iwanoff’s masterpiece – Paganin House – which as many of us sadly recall was reduced to ashes back in 2015, while its proud owners were away on holiday. For all intents and purposes (and perhaps apart from the current fight to save the Sirius Building) this is the most dedicated effort to preserve a piece of Australian Modern history we’ve witnessed, a truly jaw-dropping effort of money, passion and grit.
So tell everyone you know from fellow MCM fans to all those interested in the usual commercial dreck of ‘renovation’ shows to the aspirational devotees of Grand Designs, for this one episode shall blow them all away.
For those of you more inclined to imbibe their Australian Modern in the aural, rather than visual, fashion then click here for a 10 minute interview with Stuart Harrison and owner Tim Bult.
Restoration Australia (s.2), premiers tomorrow night, Sunday 17th March at 7.40pm. And will be available thereafter on iview for your viewing pleasure, at a time of your leisure.
A surprise entry from WA today with this sensational 1950s (60s?) home by celebrated (and still practising) architect Ronald Jack ‘Gus’ Ferguson. Already a statement residence it has in recent years been topped with a (to our minds rather extraneous) extension. However in an effort to not incite argument, peace is all we desire today, we’ll leave that aside and instead focus on the original home which has been treated and refurbed with due respect – hooray!
PS – While we’re over in WA, remember to tune in tomorrow night to Aunty for the rebuilding of Iwan Iwanoff’s Paganin House!
A superb slice of Queensland Mid-Century Modern with a fine pedigree, a 1968 residence for highly respected (and often MA featured) architect John Dalton. Sitting splendid, its original design untouched by extension or renovation, this is an enticing and rather stately home just all ready for a brissy-based Modernist to move into.
Attn: Organisers of Port Fairy Folk Festival. When faced with accommodating your roster of high-profile talent – a reclusive fiddler from Sligo who converses with the ocean / an afro-cuban ensemble requesting an after-hours jam garden / the hottest Nashville alt-country wonderboy with girl problems and in need of 30 hours straight sleep – then look no further! This slightly gone-to seed, but remarkable split level wonder has everything and more! As the bracing southern ocean whirls out front, the heady 70s vibes flow within that mezzanine, dark timbers, painted brick and burnt orange kitchen offering soothing and warm respite for the most restless of creative minds and bodies.