We refuse to end the week on a low note and thankfully Adam has written to us with a touch of joy, his Nanny’s house to be precise, in the beautiful sun-kissed south Sydders waterside. Cast your eyes on that stunning pool (with a view!) and possibly one the greatest ping pong rooms in the country and reassure yourself that we truly live in one of the greatest places on earth, and some gorgeous houses still remain.
Sorry guys, after yesterdays St Ives discovery we wanted to let the whole negative trip rest but this morning it came like a kick to the shins once more. A text book case of the timeless elegance of Melbourne’s most genteel suburb being ripped out and replaced by bombast and a level of unwarranted architectural hubris we actually cannot process without weeping or laughing uncontrollably. To wit – a number of you will remember 3 Nola Court, Toorak at its gorgeous circular driveway, flagstone, mature trees and Sunset Boulevard-ish vibes. Just stunning.
Well, no more. Not renovated. Not extended. Not even demolished for a respectable replacement. Wiped in totality for the land. Like some kind of biblical force came and swallowed up the joint, leaving nothing at all.
Of course the big punchline is there are some ‘plans’ available for this site. So a question – what do you do when you are so wealthy you can drop 4 mil plus on a suburban block, but are so creatively and emotionally stunted you have no idea what to build on it? Enter architect Nicholas Day, a practitioner so ensconced in the world of lucre, south-side status and huge proportions (hhhhmmmm?) he seems to have dedicated a career into ‘designing’ the most aesthetically offensive, Nu-Maison, self-esteem compensators for only the dumbest big-money in town.
We all know label chasing, manufactured ‘exclusivity’ and the nauseating vanity of these architectural tumours championed by such parasitic courtiers, is in fact about as highbrow and exquisite as the mass produced LV handbags the clients no-doubt tote around (read: yeah, nah). It’s just an ongoing travesty that such egesta has to destroy real architecture, trees, streets and local personality to assert its existence.
This is an 8 year old listing. We wanted to post it up because at the time we did not, and it certainly deserved some attention. The timing is now because we have just received word that it was demolished in May. This is for posterity.
**Update** It’s worse than we thought. It’s being replaced by the worst kind of nausea inducing over-gabled, quasi f*cking ski-lodge, eaveless mcmansion. A prize example of the ignorant-numbskull-thinks-this-is-how-rich-people-built-homes aesthetic which reached it’s peak around 2008 in the now real estate dead-zones of pre GFC Mid-West America. Please excuse us now, while we slide into a pit of despair.
A lovely Mid-Century complex (a veritable Palm Springs treat from the street), with all the persona of primo Newtown; classic, uptown and elegant (and the full Protestant box with the Poets-of-Great-Britain naming convention too). That said it presents an interesting twin opportunity here to perhaps more experimental, Modernist (or is that Post Modern) concepts of living. Are you, for example, a bona fide couple who still prefer separate bedrooms or homes? Do you have older kids or are couple of mates who could do the same? Do you get into the whole ‘small homes’ movement? Are you married to your work instead and would like you office 10 steps from your apartment? Or perhaps have a regular visitor you’d like to welcome with their own space? Or maybe, you are plotting a posse-nursing-home-co-op scenario – each party buying up a place (you can share the nursing costs and the self-driving bus to the pub/bowls/the movies when the time comes), because we’ve listed a couple of similar properties before and in these uncertain times it would be comforting to have somewhere nice to look forward to, a beautiful, simple, central compound go senile in together.
Props to ever-roaming MCM renovation magician Alistair over at Secret Design Studio for the heads up on this gobsmaking beauty which is guaranteed to set off fans left and right and with good reason – there is nothing more elementally Mid-Century Modern in the Southern California tradition than this right now. Situated in The ‘Gong with a climate to compare to L.A, this low-slung expanse of glazing, solid brick, breezeway and stone feature walls (oh those walls), seamlessly placed in its sloping site and without a single unused space (who wants a stupid big house when you can have a cool, pragmatic one?) not to mention the interior tile work and recessed display shelves boasts loudly and proudly of its era and it will be an absolute travesty if some new owner keeps the lines, but destroy these very idiosyncratic 60s touches which really make it sing. No, someone needs to take it in their joyfully wild clutches and run with, filling it with their period MCM pieces, de-cottaging the kitchen (and bathroom cabinets) and if they’re really dedicated, throwing in a kidney shaped pool in that backyard.
Some serious pedigree here, with a sympathetic update to show us all that this type of kindly renovation of MCM homes is really picking up steam – praise be! The architect at hand is Raymond Jones, former Robin Boyd protégé, who fled the frosty Melbourne drizzle in the early 50s and proceed to be at the forefront of Perth’s Mid-Century built awakening for the next 50 years, leaving a legacy of insanely beautiful and notable domestic, public and commercial buildings (top tip – google ‘Kiernan House’ c.1957, in Dalkeith for starters). So it would be pretty bloody awesome to dive in and live in such a residence, in one of the most beautifully Australian locales to boot. Perth peeps – start your engines!
It is not often (read: never) we get to revel in the Spanish Mission-esq. This listing, in of all places Canberra, could easily lend itself to a miriad of interpretations – by virtue of it’s uncomplicated modish design – but c’mon it’s Saturday night, who doesn’t love a fiesta? Those bathrooms are a dead-cert duel throwback to Moor-Spanish conquest and swingin’ 70s and the internal brickwork, courtyard and floating hearth are just waiting to be embraced and celebrated. So were runnin’ with it. Ry Cooder in the down time (Calexico for the dance floor), stock up on jalapenos and mezcal and get to work planting that cactus fence worthy of Kahlo herself. If you can’t do it here, you can’t do it anywhere else in this country.
A c.1969 classic to finish off the working week and besides all the wonderful features (and floor plan); just a hint of magical mosaic tiles if you look closely and superb built in planter (as LP holder – genius!) for example, we’d really like to give props to the photographer here. The unusual, but inspired, choice of taking a shot of the worn shag carpeted, split levels stairs immediately, and heavily, evokes childhood memories of sliding down such stairs in similarly timbered family homes, the sunshine streaming in our eyes, the rising dust in our nostrils and the quiet of a do-nothing Saturday afternoon. Sigh.
Although the design could be a variation on a project home, seen up and down the entire east cost – that garden is quintessential Queensland. Soak up the sun and endless warm evenings in style (though you might need to watch out for cane toads). Any thoughts or guesses on the architect?
**Update** Thanks to Modernist Australian sleepyhealthwear who states “Architect was Dan Kelvey who worked in UK and then Brisbane. A post and beam home, featured in Australian House and Garden Magazine 1968.”