Yet more alarm bells ringing country wide, today in Brisbane where a wonderful, never-before-sold residence from Modern era Queensland stalwart Donald Spencer is on the market. The most pressing concern is that next door (an updated yet also lovely home from the notable John Dalton) is also up for sale, making this proposition enticing to the developer class. But remaining determinedly optimistic we prefer to think this presents a perfect opportunity for not one but 2 sets of Brisvegans to step up and put their wallets where their appreciation (for their local domestic architecture) is.
A rare and precious example in the Australian, specifically Melbourne, modern story has popped up for sale. A collaboration between our heavy hitters Neil Clerehan and Guilford Bell in the form of this domestic commission predicated on multi-generational living and seemingly in as pristine condition as when it was built in 1962. An under-the-radar home of exquisite joinery, considered spaces and magnificent build enveloped by the urban bushland. We listed it for lease last year and at this point we defer to our earlier comments, however gushing with praise, as we stand by them and nothing has changed.
“It is not very often you have the chance to move into such a revolutionary residence in faultless condition, indeed it would be more like inhabiting a sculpture from the cream of international Mid-Century Modern and like several other individual Clerehan or Bell designs may be the closest thing we have in this town akin to a Johnson or Mies van de Rohe.”
We submit for your Friday perusal a sleek residence of late Modern lines and pure 70s glamour and if certain sub-sets of design can evoke a place and time as genres of music do then this baby is sweet Yacht Rock all the way. Hefty horizontals, sculptural interiors, expanses of glass, timber and tile may initially obscure the age reading here, its timelessness owing to that elemental architecture and textures but which, when new, would have made for a ultra sophisticated and high-end statement in living the good life in the heady days of big deals, fast cars, opium perfume and Alpine cigarettes. Ooh la la.
As we comfort ourselves with the news that one of Melbourne’s most original and worthy MCM homes has been saved via purchase on the open market, we sadly have to sound the sirens yet again. Just across the way from Boyd’s Bridgford House, sits this home by yet another long standing luminary Peter McIntyre, a commission for a Mr Alan and Barbara Grant c.1956. Made manifest by the true Modernist spirit and circumstances of its time, this residence was a one of McIntyre’s experimental responses to shortages of materials and expanding postwar housing demand. Its simple layout of living and sleeping zones coupled with renegade construction techniques of flexible, non-load bearing walls topped with a marvelous bow-truss ceiling had the needs of low-cost, mass-production potential in mind whilst thoroughly speaking to the new, casualised Australian way of life. The essentially original and tidy condition of this home is almost unreal for the suburb and it’s strikes the heart with a hard pang to know, once again, there is nothing planning-wise in place for this home to protect it from the bulldozer. Indeed word on the street is (at present) only developers have shown an interest in this wonderful, historical property with all of the worst intentions that implies. So we make the call. There is so much this home could be whilst remaining intact. There is room for a freshen up, a sympathetic refurb and possibly even extension with the right professionals at the helm. Anything is on the table to keep this home upright with integrity intact. Such a testament to our build heritage and its architect, one of the last MCM legends we still have with us, is worth considering. Share this one far and wide people.
Solid builds continue north with this careworn, Kenmore killer by local architect of note Robin Gibson c.1963. There are some architectural aspects here we have come to expect from Queensland residences, familiar to many global locales similarly beholden to equatorial weather – specifically that iron gated courtyard (letting the in a cooling breeze, but nothing else) and adding a touch of steamy romance. Though the pictures suggest the dire need for a deep cleanse and snazzy up, this building of such considered design (floor to ceiling windows, free-flow of spaces) is at the moment barely peeking through its mediocre condition but it could surely sing a beautiful serenade among plants, tile and fairy lights if only given the chance.
A commanding residence in Canberra** with all the promise of a blockbuster though which, to our mind, is missing a little something. Sensational bones (that carport & courtyard walls – woah), build and grounds notwithstanding the interiors are kinda ho-hum with that 90s kitchen, blandish white living areas and bereft garden needing a lift and personality injection. The upside being that due to its magnificent condition that’s all it calls for – the creative eye, furniture collection and landscaping skills of just one inspired person and a couple of months to transform it from sleeper to ultimate party pad. Who wants to reap that reward?
**Architect: the notable Roger Pegrum. Built c.1962
Another lovely home we’ve had sitting in the wings for too long. This one has also seen a whiten-up inside but you cannot deny those striking lines, spaces and overall MCM flavoured brilliance on show.
**Update** Thanks to Steven at MCDA who has cited this as a version of the ‘Glenbrook/Caprice’ Project Home. Designed by John Campbell for AV Jennings Industries c. 1963.
It doesn’t get more Richmond than this place. A lazy waltz down to The ‘G in the heartland between Swan and Bridge and yet this ultimate city pad is so much more, thanks to that elemental design with northern-faced living all zoned to the back, sleeping down the front. The front itself giving nothing away (in traditionally aloof Modernist fashion) whilst nonetheless having room for OSP, while inside is an expansive 3 bedrooms, plus study, plus the brightest of living/dining thanks to strategically placed windows and central courtyard- just gorgeous. It’s a little shame the Besser block and timber windows have been painted over but overall it’s still hanging in there and we’ll watch with much interest what its future holds, with those Jackson Clements Burrows plans in the mix.
**Update** We’ve been contacted by Jon Clements (principal of JCB) himself to offer a little more insight into the proposed plans and highlight the owners intentions to protect this home from destruction via an update which keeps the structural integrity and intent of the original at the fore, as below. Cheers Jon – We at MA, always welcome a robust conversation and especially any input from the pros!
“The house is much loved and the owners are hoping it sells to an appreciator. The Planning Permit has been designed to minimise the chance of the house being demolished. The Planning permit unlocks more functional space on the upper levels allowing the ground floor plan to be retained and reprogrammed. The design for the upper level extension includes independent floor structure spanning across the existing roof so that the original interiors and ceiling can be retained………Here’s hoping this great little pad will be around for a lot longer.”
Let’s celebrate the end of the week with an absolutely stunning slice of Melbourne Europa, this time from Fooks and Kagan colleague Austrian born Kurt Popper. A super glamorous, 2-storey residence built as a commission for a Mr David Pear c.1956 and belonging to the same Modernist Australian subgroup of (and dare we say in better intact condition than) Kagan’s Lind House. Architectural historian Simon Reeves indeed suggests that this particular Gordon Avenue thoroughfare could change it’s name to Popper Parade as there are at least four other examples of his domestic architecture in this street (including his own home) plus a smattering of other marvellous Mid-Century migrant designs, all of course without any heritage protection – booooo! But back to this one and what a show stopper it is with pure northern orientation of living spaces, solid as new construction and interiors of such craftsmanship and Modern chic as to inspire and enthral to this day. We cross out fingers tight and wish it godspeed as there is a rich vein of multiple value here: in the interiors, in the gardens, in the design, the social history – it deserves so much more than a lazy pitch about land-size, STCA and/or suffocation by grey render and Dulux Antique White.
Don’t we live for better or worse live in a globalised nation where good coffee, digital connectivity, flexible employment and cheap flights are plentiful? Maybe not. But still doesn’t really help us explain to recently landed aliens how some Australians clamor at auction to pay millions for a tiny plot of wreckage when, if they adjusted their horizon lines a tad, they can pick up a Mid-Century waterfront wonderland such as this for $450k. Something here in our minds, our hearts and our reality is gravely amiss and requires re-calibration ASAP.