The Boyd Baker House is on the market!

Easily the most high profile and iconic homes we've seen in Modernist Australia's eight year history, Robin Boyd's Baker residence (c. 1966) is a high-water mark in the story of Mid-Century Architecture in this country.

From the minds of one of our most revered practitioners at the peak of his career and including a layout also informed by the work of two american masters; the architect of our national capital, Walter Burley Griffin and the formidable, Internationalist monolith maker Louis Khan.

Built for clients with a remarkably attuned philosophy for housing their large family encompassing mathematics, consideration for easy living and learning spaces, local materials and the bushland environment. 

Coveted by it's second owner who recognised this property's importance and immediately after taking possession saw to attaining the highest heritage classification available from the state of Victoria to secure it's future.

Henceforth used as the location for fashion shoots, weddings and other milestone celebrations by countless Australians. We could go on and on. But what brings us here today is the sale. Not posted on any real estate listings but rather reported as being handled by two specific agents and shall be going to auction on Sunday August 31st. MA will be making all attempts to get there.

We sincerely hope the new owners take full custodial duties with deserved joy and if we did have one request? We'd still love to see it open to the public, if not all the time for parties, then at least on selected tours every so often. 

Kickstarted #1

Late to the party as usual, but great news nonetheless. We were contacted by a fellow in the States who bemoaned the lack of available retro mid-century mailboxes. Having searched high and low, including scanning the second hand market for months to no avail (even in America) he did what passionate people can do best - he did it himself.

The Kickstarter campaign just ended this morning (our apologies if you'd wanted to be part of this one - the blame is all ours) and surprise surprise there are plenty of MCM people out there who need to compliment their Mod abodes with a properly designed and quality produced mailbox, close to $80k worth of people in fact.

design by Greg Kelly

design by Greg Kelly

We knew it. We know there is a critical mass of appreciators out there. We know there are materials and objects which are sorely wanted and yet unavailable in the marketplace. Businesses always say "we won't make/sell x, y, z  because there is no market for it". Well how can you tell if there is an audience for something if you do not offer it as a choice? Crowdfunding is rapidly filling the gaping holes that mainstream, bottom line business does not wish to explore. We all must remember they are reactionary copycats, not innovators and these mailboxes are the best example yet of how we need take it upon ourselves to lead the way. If you build it, supply it, host it - they will come.

We here at MA can think of at least 3 areas in Australia which could be addressed in this manner:

1) Affordable large scale, architecturally designed housing estates and home design like our much lauded, but not as yet replicated Small Homes Service.

2) Affordable, retro ceramic tiles. Seriously, what are we coming to when the best new homes built today are using old stock tiles found in the back of warehouses to complete their kitchens ? Not everyone want to live within the aesthetic of The Sopranos house - beige begone!

Heath Ceramics showroom in San Francisco - note : no product even remotely close to these tiles and colour ranges are currently available in Australia for under $500 per sqm.

Heath Ceramics showroom in San Francisco - note : no product even remotely close to these tiles and colour ranges are currently available in Australia for under $500 per sqm.

3) Local historical preservation and appreciation (our aim here) but also being addressed via crowdfunding with encouraging results in the States.

What else do you want to see Modernist Australians?

Get this ball rolling and we will back you 100%.

Everybody go: hotel, motel.....

When following the beat of Mid-Cenutry Modernisim in all it's philosophy, incarnations and quirks so often the metronome first swings with the love of a retro motel. Is there a structure which more so encapsulates the western 20th century experience? Cinematic, functional, sentimental, anonymous, fun, seedy, home to all on the road.

In a post war glow, the drive in motel popped up all over the globe, always within the design paradigm of USA at it's peak - victorious, commercial and living the dream of a poolside banana lounge with a bikini blonde besides.  Australia in the 1950s and 60s, joyfully bouncing at the heel of the ascendant empire and awash with new wealth and constant sunshine, was always going to embrace the motel.  

And so they serviced this country for years until crashes of confidence, finances, tourism, the family unit,  you name it - made motels a sometime necessity but not a destination to be anticipated on your long drive to QLD or Perth. Many of these originals have been lost, dozed or 'renovated' beyond saving for another more lucrative enterprise. But in scattered locales around the country a few Googie gems remain as unwitting showpieces of a time gone by, lifting the spirits of those who love them and making us think - if we only had the money (and the desire to get into hospitality) to bring them back to glory, surely people would love a bit of old timey motel fun? 

Which brings us to Mildura and the Kar-Rama Motel (c'mon, who can even go past that name?). What we seem to have here is a close to perfectly preserved specimen. We have a centrepiece pool, we have the neat angles of modern, car-centric design and a flat roof, utilitarian layout with external walkways and a courtyard at it's heart. We have manicured lawn and dotted greenery, feature stonework, dynamic signage, parquetry in the reception and mosaic tiles in the bathrooms. What makes this one special is what it lacks - no ugly facelifts from the 80s, no painted over wood or stone (nothing major anyway), no removal or change of any character at all. Delightful all round.

What we hope and we suppose is required is someone - or perhaps a group of likeminded individuals - to take the reigns of this classic. Restore and polish her up (perhaps the yellow-on-everything scheme could be relaxed?) and then open up for business and pleasure. Well, mainly pleasure.

Now although it pains us to say it, we sadly cannot envisage a small motel within the Mallee jewel that is Mildura becoming the next rainbow-tinged party mecca or hipster destination but then again, stranger things have happened. So the impetus to drop everything and follow this particular dream all the way to a distant Victorian country town has to involve a party with obsessive love of the motel, drive and deep pockets - any sun-loving David Walsh types out there? Of course if the town burghers had any sense they'd realise that rainfall patterns suggest a move away from intensive farming and into a Palm Springs, well okay, a Daylesford variety tourist development. But again, these things always kick off best organically and in private hands.  

The question is - in whose hands will the Kar-Rama in all it's potential glory end up? We can only hold our breath and see.


Fooks house tour tomorrow!

Obscenely late to the party, but if you wanna support the hard work of DOCOMOMO Australia (we should all be members at any rate) and are free at 2pm tomorrow in Melbourne town, come check out the wonderous Fooks house - the architect's own.

As per the invite - a tour of this remarkably intact house will be given, archival pictures and plans made available plus afternoon tea provided all for a mere gold coin donation- win!

As per the invite Heritage Victoria’s statement of significance says;

"The Ernest Fooks House is of architectural and aesthetic significance as an intact, individual, and highly creative work combining analytical planning, aspects of Scandinavian and European modern design while incorporating principles of traditional Japanese architecture. It represents the most architecturally resolved of Fook’s domestic designs, being a complex and carefully detailed multi-layered spatial composition in a fully designed landscape."

We are not sure if the limited numbers have filled up but it's worth checking out and booking in if you can.

MA Exclusive! Woolley designed, Pettit + Sevitt home for sale.

Modernist Australians for your consideration - an intact, Pettit + Sevitt,  Lowline B, heritage listed home. A Ken Woolley design and Project House of the Year 1967. For private sale,  through our good friends at Modern House, however this will not be listed on their website or any others - this is one for true believers only. 

Photograph by Max Dupain

Photograph by Max Dupain

This wonderful home, part of a groundbreaking Pettit + Sevitt display tract, sits as neighbour to another P + S;  Woolley's Courtyard House which, as part of Sydney Living Museum's current Iconic Australian Houses Exhibition, is presently subject to a series of tours and discussions.  

Photograph by Michael Nicholson

Photograph by Michael Nicholson

And may well the stars align this Saturday the 10th May when The Courtyard House will be host to a rare (and sold out) talk and tour session by the architect Ken Woolley himself, after which next door an independent special preview of 2 Staddon Close will be hosted by the vendors. This is a unique chance not only to see (and perhaps purchase?) a classic home in the Modernist Australian tradition but also hear from it's architect all on the same day. 

Photograph by Michael Nicholson

Photograph by Michael Nicholson

Modernist Australia is chuffed to bring you this rather exclusive listing and as per the intention we anticipate by reaching out directly to you dear readers that the vendors shall be able to find a worthy buyer to enjoy this precious MCM home.

Preview for 2 Staddon Close is by appointment only. Call 1300 814 768 for further information.

PS - Sadly no, the '67 Porsche to go with the '67 house is not (as far as we know) included in the deal.

Shack Star Australia - entries now open

Do you love a bit of award winning tellie? Do you love your family beach shack? Would you like to show off  your family beach shack on award winning tellie? If the answer is yes well read on…

The makers of the History Channel's series Coast (specifically Coast Australia) have discovered the world of the Australian, mid-century fibro beach shack. For their second series they would very much like to pay a visit to anyone with a classic, intergenerational, loved-to-pieces beach shack and investigate the unique relationships we share with these modest dwellings. One condition - you must be in South Coast NSW, so paging all in Bermagui, Batemans Bay, Tathra, Narooma everywhere in-between. Here it is in their words......

We would like to tell the story of the Australian beach holiday on the South Coast of NSW - piles of family members all lumped into a little fibro shack by the beach, and kept in the family for generations. I am looking for a family on the South Coast of NSW who have a little beach shack and have been holidaying there for generations.

If you didn't already know, we here at MA have a particular soft-spot for this chapter of pure, antipodean phenomena entwining modest MCM design and holiday living. If you feel the same as we do, please get in touch with your family story and shack and we'll see what we can do.