Another very intact c.1950s original which has also been lovingly and expertly renovated – geeze there are some clever peeps about. This one includes a rather stunning pool area and (we think) the perfect contemporary duel-level plan of family on top and spillover guests/parties/teens/nana down below. Let’s not forget to mention the exquisite stonework, timber, kitchen and balustrade detailing all brought together in perfect presentation. Big props to these vendors, we think you’ll have a well-earned bun-fight on your hands over this wonderful treasure.
Woah, woah WOAH kids – the year is ending and the market is going hog-wild so naturally up pops another absolute killer. An already quintessential c.1962 home by Melbourne Mid-Century architect-about-town (and of European émigré stock) Harry Ernest, which has been lovingly lived in and renovated with aplomb by designer owner Roger Ward for the last 16 years. The end result being a revision splendid of new with utmost adoration for old that will rightfully send us all into cascades of oohs, ahhhs, rude words and quickpick purchases. Now having seen a couple of other magnificent (and high-end) do-ups in the area we must declare that homes in this Migrant Melbourne Modern belt possess the attributes of preserved and exceptional luxe, bespoke flair and venerable European edge which lend themselves perfectly to dedicated, daring and damn fun updates such as we see here. It’s all shag rugs, poolside cocktails and swingin’ times from here on out!**
With offer thanks and credit to MCDA (join up today gang) and its knowledgeable brains trust for some important details pertaining to the age of this home, the richness of the entire street (Holgar & Holgar being updated up the road too yay!) and the photos of the build from the owner (don’t tell Worksafe!). Check its very own Intsa page for more images and bravo to the owner and the agents for such a joyful celebration of Modernist Australia habitationi at it best!
**1970s copper fireplace outside? A masterstroke. Get ready to see that everywhere gang.
Staying regional and with a warm welcome to the first time listed, rural centre of Armidale. This lovely, modest home has been lovingly looked after and repaired by the present owners. Built in 1969 it stands the test of time and though the original flat roof copped a hailstorm in the 1990s and was replaced by previous owners with a gabled version, it remains a testament to those considered and skilled people who contributed to its design and construction, as owners Lyn and Erik attest:
“…..the house was built…. by Annette and Ray Chappell as owner/designer/builders using books of architects plans available at the time and contracting out the work, Ray doing some labouring. I think they had an accomplished draftsman because the proportions of the house are lovely to experience and are often commented on. Klaus Lenfer, a German immigrant did the unusual windows with airvents and fixed glass, which are safely able to keep the house cool in summer using cooled thermal mass of double concrete block walls. Barry Makepeace, an ex-Chiswell designer, designed and built the lovely kitchen. Considerable changes were made in 1972, including the parquetry flooring, the garage conversion with rose gum lining and the glassed entry etc…….We also had bespoke double glazed window sections made for the bathroom and laundry to replace windows designed permanently open, chilly at -10C in winter.”
We’re getting down to personal brass tacks with this one, as we saw it IRL over the weekend and within a few hours had the plans laid out in our minds to escort this wonderful, rambling, architect designed family home (in a locale renowned for such) into its next best life. We dare say quite a few of us MCM tragics do this on a regular basis huh? To wit – the bones and indeed the build is already there; those ceilings and windows soar, the brickwork was without a single crack, the wood (though needing a little sand and re-coat in the bedrooms) was resplendent and the kitchen is bigger than it looks. It has perfect northern orientation, central heating and indoor/outdoor living at its core. So, if budget permits and you are able to fend off the creep of developers who’d see this slice of pure suburban, regional history broken down into insipid townhouses here is the MA tip list:
– Utilise that ‘master bedroom’ as a second living/rumpus.
– Block off the laundry door into the living and knock through a connection into a bigger kitchen with direct access to the carport.
– Sympathetic reno of the kitchen with squared island bench to sit an look out the windows whilst sharing a vino with the cook.
– Crazy pave the entire area between the kitchen and bedroom wing – outdoor living at its best (strings of festoon lights go here)
– In-ground pool outside the new rumpus, with a single fence diving the yard north/south from the rumpus room line.
– Super sympathetic refurb/redo of the sleeping wing – retaining the timber and enhancing with lovely, era specific flourishes eg: terrazzo tile in the bathrooms (and kitchen)
– Leave most of the greenery (the aggies can go though – weeds that they are) to keep the stunning, secret garden feel alive, especially those towering trees which are at least 50 years old.
– Address the asbestos roof in time, it’s not a deal breaker.
Phew! That’s a start anyways. Good thing we’re not in the race for this though we cross our fingies that maybe one or two of you, our dear readers, are.
Blow us down with yet another surprise listing kids. A pedigree home from a pedigree berg treated with a respectful (if rather flamboyant) hand that we could only wish for some other residences we have listed in the vicinity. An exceptional work by Anatol Kagan starting at the very front; a concave rotund, almost Groundsian, first level of rhythmic segmented fenestration (yep, we can talk fancy when we choose) sitting astride a swingin’ batcave carport leading into three levels of sleeping, dining, working and pianoing with a mix of pure 1950s, bespoke elegance and some extra-extra additions like a hydronic heating, rooftop terrace and that kitchen appliance list (hew boy!). Though remodelled in parts it remains as solid and true as we could hope for in these precarious times for even our most valuable MCM homes and on that note we’re still not sure of its history nor heritage status (other than it’s build date of 1959) though we’d assume it is earmarked in at least one or two council evaluations (paging Simon Reeves!). That said and formalities aside, there is no doubt this is a bona fide landmark within Toorak’s strong Modernist built legacy and we wish only the best for the present owners and custodians-to-be.
For us, the magic of today’s offering is all in that dynamic roofline and street presentation (including that superb landscaping), a retro-futurist slice of housing so pixel perfect it could be the test slide for a new Incredibles movie. For many others it could be the internal renovation which does away with the toil and and fraught choices of taking on an older, untouched MCM home for an easy dive straight into lifestyle, whilst still keeping the flavours and quirk of the original (those stairs – wee!). Whatever your take, this one is bound to cast a wide net and bag a load of MCM thrill-seekers at varying levels of obsession.
From retro ramblers in WA > Melbourne Bayside pedigree > today, though we puff along a rapidly spinning wheel of homes to list, we are kept exhilarated and astounded by the breadth and variation found in our Australian Modern taxonomy and today we make a pit stop once again to one of our favorite junctures: The Sydney School. This sun dappled, eucalypt-scented hideout in the bush ‘burb heartland is the work of the MCM luminary Don Gazzard (c.1964) will be slaying all in the isles for its originality preserved, brilliant yet self-effacing design and deference to the natural world above all else. Such an earthy focus within elegant design is a particularly enticing balm for those burned out by the slog, speed and unending din of our current world. Surrender to the stillness here.
We apologise in advance for the bait and switch, for although this is a legitimate listing and still wonderful home (with a few beach house extensions) and the main building remains intact, we cannot avert our eyes from the original; a veritable lesson in Mid-Century Australian, nay, international Modernism. Many thanks to Steven at MDCA for all the intel and historical images (more here), for what is a truly breathtaking example. This beach house designed by David Chancellor (of oft celebrated firm Chancellor & Patrick) in 1953. It was constructed for £2000 utilising a system of pre-fab panels hung on a timber frame sitting on a concrete base, with that beautiful stone hearth providing a focus in the living zones whilst separating the sleeping/bathing and cantilever beams stretching over the terrace. And.that.is.it. Stripping back amenity and form to just the elegant essentials, this home at 65 years of age is a pinnacle of Modern design. It could certainly hold its own with any small, domestic projects built in the US or Europe in the era and undertaking, we dare say, far greater material, financial and cultural constraints but additionally stands up today, with the original,1953 1-bedder comparable to anything being offered by the premier pre-fab, small homes and higher-end architects practising right now. And once more it returns us to the question: Where the hell did it all go so wrong? If this is what we were building in the early 1950s, then why are so many of our glorious beach ‘burbs slathered in stale brick veneer, tiled roofed, neocolonial mediocrity? We had it in the palm of our hands to build for our lifestyle, with a discipline of elemental sophistication, as built by world leaders of design and we turned our back on it for over 30 years – only to find ourselves repeatedly startled by seeing what we think of as ‘contemporary’ is actually more than 60 years old.
PS- Grab your diving mask & spearguns, gonna get us some crays!
Who knows what the story is here (we’d wager a deceased estate) but we’re pretty confident in any case it’s not long for this world. Although the agent rather strangely ping/pongs (but mostly pongs) between BUILD YOUR DREAM HOUSE hysteria and trifling recognition of all the 60s architecture now lost along this strip, we know in essence the type of buyer they want. The type that knocks down. The type who pays no heed to sensational roof lines, brickwork or design. Save for a savior, this listing is set for our electronic archive.
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.