4 Ahearn Ave, South Coogee NSW

Retro survivor is right. This breathtaking residence straddling some of the best clifftops in the country is an incredible family home covering 3 storeys, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, lift and terraced gardens. Seemingly unchanged since its no doubt glamorous debut in the 1960s, it remains a picture of pared back elegance with flourishes of parquetry, timber and breeze block on the balcony. With a price tag to match the location, we’re not quite sure if this magnificent survivor can further survive the torrid and vulgar throes of Sydney money. Fingers crossed that this great dame can pull through.

‘Pettit & Sevitt Mark V’ 20 Campbell Dve, Wahroonga NSW

Project homes have long been a staple for us and what was a long marginalised subset of the Australian Modernist story – the pre-designed experiment by renowned Australian architects each attempting their own variety of better home design, better suburb planning and an optimistic new way of living – is now clawing back the esteem it deserves. None more so than the output of 1960s into 1970s firm Pettit and Sevitt, who not only now have a fan club of dedicated owners/restorers but is back in business recapturing this spirit of high Modern design with grounded attitude for a new generation (can we now just all pretend the 1980s and 1990s volume building didn’t happen?).
But let’s get down to it, this particularly beautiful building and a more stunning Pettit & Sevitt home we can heartily claim we have never seen. Those familiar will spot the usual P&S hallmarks; cedar beams, painted white brick and passage-less flow of living spaces however the ‘Mark V’ is the design opus, a P&S offering by way of revered architect Ken Woolley presented to any lucky purchaser as the highest-end option on their books; the most rooms, the most expensive and pure boldness in its 2-storey floor plan. As a result only few were so brave and of the limited figure ever actually built it is suggested that a mere 15 examples of varying quality and originality remain standing throughout the country. This listing, dear Modernist Australian, is what they call a unicorn. Rare, intact, hiding in plain sight on in its glorious bushland address as if it was still 1967, the year of it’s construction. As Home Beautiful stated at the time:

‘If this house was designed as a “one-off” custom built house as an architect’s private commission it would take its place among Australia’s best”

Superseding the throwaway tag of ‘project home’ this expansive and singularly gorgeous residence stands today as a sentinel in architectural expression, daring optimism and collective experimentation – concepts which we still need as desperately today as we did back then. All goodwill and envy to the eventual new owner, what an astounding place for anyone to call home.

All images courtesy of Modern House real estate.

21 Byways Dve, Ringwood East VIC

In keeping with this suburb’s rep for holding a big vein of MCM gold, this second Melbourne listing in Ringwood East is of a more considered design than Rezza. It is unknown the architect at this stage, but suffice to say we can see intention in the flow of spaces and the grin-inducing 70s drama of mission brown (so much mission brown!) beams playing against the white walls inside. Props also to the agents who have come up with one hell of a respectful sales pitch, nary a mention of development, which would have been unheard of a couple of years ago. Progress people, it’s all progress.

691A Gilbert Rd, Reservoir VIC

A double header today with first part in Reservoir, a not usual locale for Mid-Century flavoured fun (with this being perhaps our second ever listing there). And although not the most formally polished nor astute of designs this rambling family casa nonetheless will surely excite those with a penchant for MCM who are pushed ever north by the inner-Melbourne hustle and flow.

49 Eliza Plc, Panorama SA

Great Mid-Century bones and untouched brick and board frontage (thank goodness!). A little mish mashy inside, with the obligatory 80s colonial kitchen cabinetry which has no business being there however it’s easily (and pretty much half-way already) converted back to its design roots. All good.

22 Dargie St, Everton Park QLD

Whilst so many homes have come and gone in the past few months, this rather forlorn listing has remained unsold, so today we give it its due. Although there is no floor plan and those rooms seem a little dark, we suspect there is a rather nice Mid-Century home to be found here, once you beat and slash your way behind the candelabra.

61 Somerville St, Spence ACT

Yet another long-held family home hitting the market this week, this one a glorious exemplar of 1970s warmth and premier project home design which is now coming full circle, gathering appeal among those who vaguely recall such light-filled, brick and timber environs in their early childhood mind’s eye. Built in 1974 by project home company Civic Constructions, a burgeoning forerunner and rival for the Pettit & Sevitt audience (oh what we wouldn’t give for a bit more of this kind of competition today!), this is a beautifully intact version of their ‘X2’ design by architects Cocks Carmichael. With full deference to the winter sun, living spaces enticing in their earthy, elemental craftsmanship including timber ceilings, expanses of glazing and era specific joy such as cork kitchen flooring and Yves Kline Blue bathroom this particularly inviting residence has got the lot, ready to move in and feel like a well worn and loved home instantaneously .

7 Janet St, Brighton East VIC

A super interesting transformation of a neglected Brighton home which so easily could have been lost to subdivision10 years ago but instead has undergone a renovation/extension of enormity in every aspect. Though at its core it’s a different building altogether, the high-end architects employed by the vendors demonstrate their savvy to utilise the classic 1950s skillion-roofline as the primary character reference and even more remarkably retained the cream brick (praise be!). The pool and stone paving has remained, as it always was, c’est magnifique and this home in the whole now presents as supremely flash, contemporary Brighton abode which cleverly straddles the duel concerns of paying homage to its heritage whilst continuing in the socio-economic expectations of the area and market.

46 Morley Avenue, Wye River VIC

Yet another class-A example supporting our foundation theory that the Australian post WW2 beach shack is a distinct subset of Twentieth-Century Modernist architecture.
This holiday house undoubtedly the location of decades of salt and eucalypt flavoured adventures in its simple structure and plan has far more in common with the functionalist designs of early Modernist Europe than perhaps anyone wants to see. However to those who have poured over endless MCM books in their lives, it instantly smacks in the face: This house was constructed as an unadorned, raised rectangle shape to feed, bath and doss a bunch of seasonal residents (form follows function). The materials were drawn from a slim range of rationed options, the more mass produced and easy to assemble the better (new options in technology and industrial answers for domestic builds). The windows are large and the living/kitchen open plan to take in the stunning beauty of the surroundings (site is paramount and flexibility, ease of living spaces a priority).
Unlike most hindsight, the retrospection of immense creative change of nearly a century in age is diffused and never 20/20. Many people these days are simply unable to grasp the sheer groundbreaking aspects of this backwater, antipodean architecture for its day, nor its high-theory forbears of the proceeding decades overseas, nor indeed can many see how the two could ever be related. However when the starting points are the same and a rejection of old building traditions and ideals have been cast aside (for theoretical, practical or societal reasons) then the end products, the finished buildings, we believe share a strong sibling relationship and the family likeness is very much there.

 

9 White Lodge Ct, Kew VIC

Resplendent as it rests in the inner-city bosom of big money MCM. A commission for Drayton & Colman Architects (c.1964) for an obviously more ‘hip’ contingent of Melbourne’s captains of industry (well at least a little more tuned-in than those who opted instead to haunt the ghostly mansions of Hawthorn and Toorak) in the late 50s and early 60s. This one like so many of Studley Park was built by wealth, intended for family, sits virtually next to the Yarra and is less than 5kms from the CBD. A glorious, cream brick beauty standing straight as the day the original owners moved in and, like the Warrnambool listing, is a testament cum museum piece of old Melbourne glamour and style. We of course are naturally troubled, for although this area has many intact and wonderful MCM streetscapes, there are so many big homes being daily deformed into grotesque wedding cakes by dictator aesthetics, this home is not immune. Time we believe for the torch to be passed from the old hipster guard to the new. In this creative economy there are many minted kids out there partial to such homes, we just need to find one to step up and take on their classically Melbourne birthright.**

*Architects (apparently 2 of them!) as yet unnamed.

**C’mon! That Twin Peaks address alone is a siren call to the demographic we are calling upon…….

 

11 Princess St, Warrnambool VIC

Some more regional fun sent through this weekend in the shape of this rather stately retro fabulous residence down on the shipwreck coast. The agent has made claims of well known local architect commissioned by well known family which points possibly to hometown son architect William ‘Tag’ Walter, whose work we haven’t seen come up for a while. All provenance speculation aside, this home at any angle is a wonder of unmoved time, from the build to the furnishings, with each click of the pics bringing us an even wider grin of joy and recognition of times and places long since disappeared. Bless.

42 Alkina St, Kenmore QLD

Kenmore continues to crush it with this four-bedder, all neato and ready to move in. Strong bones is right –  that solid carport frontage alone has us a little sweaty. Keep them comin’ Qweeens!

97-99 Sunnyside Cres, Castlecrag NSW

A high level of evasiveness has accompanied this listing which has been sitting on the market for a while. From the stated knowns: primo Castlecrag location and 60 years in the same hands plus a peek or two from some interested Modernist Australians the situation is quickly laid bare: this residence of very attractive brick and stone with very sophisticated lines for its age is most likely the work of a noted MCM architect and is absolutely in dire of attention. That said, we balk at the advice that it is ‘beyond economic repair’ (whatever that means) for if someone has the cash to buy on a clifftop in Castlecrag in the first instance and if someone has the cash to replace said original home with a banal statement in vulgar wealth accumulation (as if that’s some kind of a virtue), then we could also posit that someone else may indeed have the cash, creativity and integrity to swim against this insipid tide and perhaps give this home a sympathetic rebirth. Or is everyone in Sydney with money just a complete tosser?

52 Kellatie Rd, Rosny TAS

A neat-as-a-pin Hobart residence in supreme condish which maintains its original, elegant rhythm of beams and brick with panels of glass and plaster. Ready to roll as is, but just waiting for the splash of furniture and decor to make this house a true home. We’d stick our bib in there and suggest a nice bit of seagrass wallpaper for those kitchen dividing walls for starters, but that’s just us. As always with Tassie the breathtaking riverside views and acceptable price tag are a mere footnote.

113 Dunlop St, Mortlake VIC

If you stumbled across this unabashed slice of classic commercial Modernism for sale in some inner city suburb it would no doubt command seven figures and be the coveted location for all manner of creative-class work/life designs; that beautiful staircase, feature brickwork, rear garden and bright space upstairs for a small home, with offices below. In reality however, it’s in Mortlake. Which means it sits close to dormant (depending on when yet another big four decides to abandons its rural community) alongside a veritable parade of other forgotten Mid-Century shopfronts (seriously, go for a google walk, Pats! J.Golsworthy & Sons!) and with not much else going for it. Though we know there are those of you out there wanting to wash out of the city and into such towns, adopting a Chris-in-the-Morning (or is that Ken Sherry) persona and shaking up the place in your own particular way. And this ol’ bank is as good a base as any, we suppose, to make that happen.

19 Callitris Cres, Marcus Beach QLD

An architect led-renovation from an original which is a little out of the Mid-Century time-frame for us (c.1985) but nonetheless was first designed with keen deference to the Modernist ethos including a floor plan remeniscent of any simple 60s So Cal classic and as such it has played host to one of Rosso’s sell-out ‘Man About The House’ shows back in 2016. As described over there:

“The Marcus Beach House (1985) by Brisbane Architect Craig Herron derives from the architect designed, craftsman built Australian suburban project homes of the sixties and seventies. Designed for his mother, the house entertained family holidays for the extended Heron family for more than 25 years. The house was sympathetically re-modeled in 2010 for its new owners, a young family of five, by the multi-award winning Brisbane Architect Paul Owen (Owen Architecture). At just 140sq.m the courtyard house layout derives efficiency of space through integration of circulation and utility functions bringing family members together in daily routine and ritual.”

If it’s good enough for the Modernister, then it’s good enough for us.

12 Balnagowan Ave, Colac VIC

We’ve been looking for some regional joy and it’s seems Colac has delivered this evening with an exquisite, ultimate lake front residence – woah nelly! Though not apparent to many, Colac with it’s slightly rural slide vibe is no stranger to pedigree Mid-Century Modernist domesticity, this lake locale is the site of at least one Robin Boyd house as well as a sprinkle of beauties such as this about town. And now we add another to the catalogue with unknown origins and ownership, but so clearly cared for and with a garden to rival any current-day output from a high-end landscape designer, we are simply dying to know more (anyone with the skinny- get in touch!). The purity of line and classic country genteel aura is perhaps only usurped by that dynamite copper rangehood, a kitchen requirement-cum-feature of which we have never been a fan (arh arh!) that is, until now. Indeed that entire kitchen complete with worn-out cork flooring is one for the pintrestboard/dream house photo folder. It all is really and so enticing, we may even take the drive to see it for ourselves.

 

45 Banambila Street, Aranda ACT

Though a rather wonderful sale pitch by the agent we can’t help but feel a little dismayed by the photos here. Such a beautiful and mostly intact example of ‘The Trendsetter’ project home design (for Trend Builders by architect Neil Renfree* c.1967) deserves more than some wonky, taken-on-the-fly images (pro tip guys: when you photograph a bedroom, it’s the room that’s the focus, not the bed). When so much of a home sale is based on eyeballing and when well considered Mid-Century Modernism is notoriously difficult to encapsulate with seeing in the first place, this makes us a little (insert sadface emoji) *sigh*

*thanks to Steven Coverdale for the updated info and B&W ad pic