Seems like Canberra was just warming up on Friday for here comes an even more astounding c.1961 slice of incredibly intact Mid-Century domestica to restore your faith in the world. Sitting on a big block and with dreamy garage/workspace outbuildings to complement this home’s all original presentation, not to mention stunningly mature gardens, this is a dead cert for anyone who appreciates instant MCM home ownership with nary to do but set up the bar and take in the sun on that back patio. This is a bona-fide local beauty to rival anything you may see in Atomic Ranch.
Something of an Irish singalong theme to this retro fabulous cottage which, although in ok nick, could also do with a teeny freshen up – perhaps (without wanting to derail the peace accord) we could replace the orange with a lovely Mid-Century mint in honour of O’Connor? And Batman photo angles aside, it’s warming our cockles (see what we did there?) to witness such a jaunty home complete with butterfly roof, stonework foundations, burgeoning native garden and windows a go-go being sold for it’s joyfully unapologetic MCM credentials. Modernist Australians of the capital – be on yer way witch yer and make this lass your own!
Gah! We are kicking ourselves we’ve let this one slide for too long and now it’s under offer. Though not wanting to puff our chests too much it’s endangered rippers like this one we have the most chance of saving from the dozer or horrific on-trend-for-6-months do over because though still expensive, it may have been within reach of one of you – someone the nous and style to see this c.1965, Nino Sydney ‘Quarterdeck’ project home (the follow on from his Pan Pacific design)* of washed dun tones and timber ceiling stunner for it’s immense inherent beauty and tease it out just a tiny bit more with a light freshen up. Who knows? Maybe that has indeed happened. We cross our fingers and hope for the best.
*With thanks to Steven Coverdale at MCDA for the info and the brochure image.
Those native to the area will know this darling as it greets all on the winding drive into Queenscliff proper. A Mid-Century signpost reassuring all who swing past that they are in a town of old-timey vibes, an unhurried village amazingly still not blighted by rampant development nor suffocating crowds, even in peak summer. The slower pace, lack of commercial ferocity and genuine peace of the town filters throughout this ultimate Australian statement in post war holiday making, its form and floor plan a version of so many lost multitudes once found in our summer places.: proudly simple and humble, a rejection of stifling British centric designs for a Modern Australian one which has become our common vernacular. It would be quietly devastating to see this one knocked down and we’d implore anyone with the inclination to get down there and continue on the story of this little, local icon.
Woah! Aside from the occasional Iwanoff, we’ve never encountered such MCM love in a West Australian sales spiel before and rightly so, this all original slice of bush suburb Modernism (c.1963) has all the trademarks of pragmatic and considered design; an excellent example of progressive minds and accomplished craftsmanship from the mid-twentieth century. This is due to those behind it: the partnership of legendary Perth architect, Peter Overman and Corser homes a relationship akin to Ken Woolley with Pettit & Sevitt on the East Coast. Though a little tired and the pressure of development is unceasing, t’would be so nice to see this little one saved and repaired for we know the trajectory of this home’s aesthetic, environmental, financial and architectural value is all skyward.
There’s no school like the ol’ Sydney School and anyone partial to this particular form of late stage Modernism, those who love a touch of the hand hewn and texture are in for some joy. An earlier work of one of this country’s pre-eminent architects Philip Cox, this c.1972 elegant residence with it’s painted brick, timber and tiled surfaces laid out in a plan where shared living and northern orientation is paramount, expresses an almost rural-flavoured simplicity. A refuge of the essential, smack bang in a city which, like most, is obsessed with the dogged pursuit of show and status. And there is no better example of this prevailing Modernist attitude than the street frontage – a single garage door surrounded by trees, not for us the bloated porticos, counterfeit fairytale gates and bombastic driveways which signpost the empty grandeur of new breed mansions, nup, this home is not ‘trendy’ but rather expertly and beautifully embraces privacy, simplicity and integrity.
The mass appeal of a fully renovated and gorgeously presented MCM home, as the last few posts have shown, is undeniable. That said we at MA have to admit that it’s homes like today’s which really rocket our personal adrenaline. And maybe it’s just foolish optimism which sees the potential in this freakin’ amazing, original construction of feature brickwork and open design, floating on windows at every turn of more value than the land it occupies. Maybe not. But don’t tell us this place couldn’t be a veritable compound of unbridled joy anchored by a magnificent Mid-Century design – celebrated, preserved and sympathetically enhanced with some astute hands, creative minds and hearts of integrity.
The cavalcade of resplendent sympathetic renovations rolls on with this fresh-as-a-daisy do-up in Canberra. According to the owners they bought it as a rather tired little home, marketed as a knock down, even though it is actually the work of the regions beloved MCM architects, Neville Ward (c.1965). As you can see knocking it down was not on the cards and the home has been spectacularly brought up to date with an attractive touch of white-washed, desert adobe to go with the beautifully renewed gardens and sleek mid 60s lines. Double points for making doggy and even a garden shed look chic. In updating this home, for the most part cosmetically, there is a lot here to grab the attention of those who are more contemporary snazz than Modernists at heart but this only reaffirms the timelessness of the integral design and features – for the simple enjoyment of the elements which make our earthly realm; light, air, warmth, textures and fragrance never really goes out of style.
Finally, in an area with the twin reputation of having the grandest Mid-Century modern homes in Victoria with the fastest rate of destroying and replacing them with hideous, overblown mansions by all-money-no-tastemakers, finally comes this joyful confirmation of the importance of architectural legacy. Taking a gorgeous1960s home of fine joinery (Dario Zoureff strikes again!), plentiful proportions, and clean lines and polishing it up to a contemporary sheen – this is a singular, glam-infused, dynamite party house. And whatsmore its being sold on its genuine and groundbreaking architectural pedigree, the sales angle alone is rare for such an area, even for a building as well turned out as this. Now, if this could just happen with all the other similarly beautiful original MCM residences in Brighton, they may just save their gold-plated souls yet.
Although drowning in so many spectacular listings right now, we do relish the opportunity to showcase the best, the most humble and the all the save-worthy variations of MCM homes across the country (hey, that’s why we’re here) and we really couldn’t find the hidden gems without the help of all of you out there. So please know, we love every home we receive in whatever method they come, and can only apologise if what you’ve sent us hasn’t been posted, yet (or we haven’t replied to your email).
Take this one, down the road from a dear reader who has always suspected a little oasis behind that nondescript frontage, and he was right. His dispatch notes: the home has only had one owner, is in lovely condition (though admittedly that updated kitchen could go) and the open house last week was populated by non Modernist Australians read: we could possibly lose a stunningly simple U-shaped home of delicious grey brick, parquetry and walls of glass to some nasty McMansion without much ado. Well, that does not sit well with us at all. So paging South Australians (or those eyeing off the move to Adelaide) here is a bona fide beauty, solid yet sophisticated, ready to roll and with room for fun cosmetic changes. Show yourselves and take what is rightfully yours.
Tonight a remarkable testament to the timelessness of accomplished Mid-Century Modern architecture from one of the most celebrated Australian firms of the time. This grand home situated within the gorgeously lush confines at posh heart of the Sydney elite, was built for a Dr. Pantel and designed by John Allen & Russell Jack Architects in 1962, and has remained in the same family until now. In stunning condition, with not a blemish to be spotted in those unyielding grey brick walls, nor clean windows, nor timber detailing, this home presents as a series of seperate living pavilions which together enclose the inhabitants in an unspoken security of being, whilst inviting the earthly beauty of the locale to take centre stage – views, light, air and sound. An almost perfect expression of peak Modern ideals; functional, beautiful and, though exquisite to look at, would be even moreso nourishing of the soul and the senses, than the eye.
Hold on to your inner-city clichés Melbourne hipsters ‘cos we’re flogging them all in praise of this tantalising plot of Mid-Century magic in your ground zero – three houses from Merri Creek and on the south side of Bell St. A mere bike ride from Ceres, Pedimontes and your weekly graveyard show focusing on screamo-afro-dream pop at 3PBS, this well preserved, 1960s palace lets you spread out and really get that urban orchard/beekeeping collective happening! Write your next grant application on that spacious balcony with northerly views. Pontificate about the Greens Vs Labor over a smooth organic pino or ristretto in that wonderous backyard, while your partner toils over their gin still/loom/new sound project in the back workshop. Take your non-gender specifically raised precious ones (doggo or human) down to the creek for a Sunday tai chi sesh. Or – far more likely – bitch about how the inner city was so much better when the Pram Factory was open, you subsisted on $3 bowls of Tiamo spag matriciana and Gough’s legacy still hung in the air because – let’s face it – you’d have to be from that era, have parents who are or have won that 55 mil at Sparkly Bear lotto to afford this now very expensive bohemian enclave.
One owner, architect designed (possibly one of the last domestic commissions done by Charles Victor Dumbrell) , elegant and expansive yet showing signs of fatigue and enduring a not-great kitchen update this ageing beauty stays loyal to the architect’s Modernist ideals and only needs cosmetic pairing back to make it a superstar once more. On one acre, close to the shops but embraced by the bush, it’s time to pull our your silk robe and hire a butler for this very enticing residence calls for those who know how to partake in old, high-hills glamour.
*With thanks to MCDA for the update and wonderful prints, which are part of the sale.
A darling discovery in Sandy Bay, that hot pocket of apartment buildings which catch our roving eye on the regular. This particularly clean-lined, internationalist style complex giving up a sunny, literal corner of the world to a lucky seeker, combining the unfussy pragmatism at the heart of its design with the generosity of space new apartments don’t get near. In excellent condition and with enticing Mid-Century touches such as those mosaic tiles on the patio and cursive iron name out front, this one is sure to be snapped up posthaste.
Topping off a sparkling week with yet one more high delight; a c.1959 family home on a huge block, north facing backyard, Dandy views and architectural pedigree to match its pristine condition. A Melbourne confident answer to Friday’s Geelong call. And thanks to Steven Coverdale over at Mid-Century Domestic Architecture who has unearthed a little of its history:
“The house has been lovely maintained/refurbished by its current custodians and it’s with great hope that it’s handed over to a new owner who can cherish lovely character and features.
It’s understood that the house was designed by Anthony Mathews for Mr. De Shrynmakers, a bachelor of Belgian descent, as his own home. Shortly after Mathews joined Stuart Warmington in practice notedly quite briefly as described in Simon Reeves biographical entry:
Let us too join the push get this one to a real MCM lover and buyer in our midst (BTW a quick Google-waltz down Wendy hints a secret cache of gorgeous MCM homes) T’would be heart gladdening to hold onto this wonderful home and further to this – the entire court – as an unassuming suburban bastion of beautiful Modern design.
Kerrimuir Street. Once a hushed secret has fast become a golden mile of Mid-Century abodes in the northern Geelong suburbs and it’s with baited breath we’ve been waiting for this house, number 4, all week (we had the inside scoop from the rightfully proud, MCM loving agent). So now presenting a crown jewel* which we have posted once before in 2012 (now lost in the ether of our archives). And with the history of this home now for all to see, what we ultimately discover is a fairytale applicable to any domestic MCM house in Australia should it ever be as fortunate; a loved but worn family home of middle age > to doleful, tired rental in 2008 > just barely gussied up for sale in 2012 > bought, remodelled and refurbished by only the most insightful, restrained and loving hand > to finally now re-enter the market in dazzling triumph! We can offer nothing but rousing huzzahs and admiration to Peter Woolard at Studio 101 for this lesson in bringing a lovely, humble MCM possibility into a brilliant future secured.
So many of you, our dear readers, contact us seeking advice on how to renovate and restore your own recent Mid-Century purchases and all we can say is – look at this, for this is indeed how it’s done.
*A Lend Lease project home ‘Pan Pacific’ design from Nino ‘Beachcomber’ Sydney, no less.
Time to visit Perth, where the skies go on forever, the pace is a little slower and the hangover of mineral millionaire taste-making is still evident on the walls. Once you banish that rendered peach, tuscan terracotta and cleansed her up a bit, this little casa looking over the Swan River (and across the road from the Applecross Tennis Club – itself a little unassuming Mid-Century watering hole to savour at sundown) would truly shine once more. Perhaps in deference to the cashed-up culture (and just keep a little decadence alive) we’d wouldn’t say no to a pool in that sweeping front yard. Whatever grabs your fancy.
There is something especially sadistic about identifying the architect behind a beautifully crafted and beloved c.1957 Modernist residence only to then to illustrate with glee how it can be replaced with overarching mediocrity. That godawful 3D rendering of metal balustrades, super high-gloss flooring, stacked stone feature walls and a floor plan ripped straight from the ‘this-must-be-how-rich-people-live’ section of some volume builders playbook. Ew. Subdivision is fine. Building what you want is a choice. However replacing that wonderful 5 bedroom home of enlightened simplicity with a shit castle under a false economic strategy built on land banking profit just proves that this country’s growing distaste for the ‘developer class’ is well founded.
A long, languorous dream. A cascade of reminiscence, pinecone smoke, salt and sunflare. That main image – a Big Sur-ish echo of soaring trees and timber with lights reflected (goddamn your emotionally manipulating image filters). The cosy construction – a typical late 60s beach cottage, perhaps a project home, more staunch than the fibro variation with its unadorned brick, tiles, wood and beautiful walls of glazing. The overriding promise of sleepy beach towns still out there with more remaining tree cover than subdivision. A time stasis; unconcerned with the bang and buy of contemporary life, where you can focus on far more important matters like lazy bike rides, morning swims, a good cuppa and a quiet read in the sun. With all of this a humble house reaches deep inside and pulls at our very soul. Rarefied Gippsland gold and we already envious of the new owners whomever they may be.