As one battle to save an historical Modernist home is won, we turn our eyes to the many other tussles continuing to play out around the country.
MA has received a heads-up about the fight by concerned locals to save the Ivanhoe Library. Designed by local Melbourne firm, Leith & Bartlett who were also the architects behind Burwood Skyline, Melbourne's first drive-in theatre (c.1954) of course now demolished (sniff), this is clearly a much loved MCM building. And although may be ending it's shelf life as a public library, we believe it's nonetheless supremely valuable as the public building and deserves not to be merely written off in some consultant's/developer's enthusiasm for forging brand new public works and buildings which, of course, will cost ratepayers a bomb.
We at MA are nothing if not pragmatic and true Modernists that we are, we do not believe in buildings for buildings sake. We understand that accessibility for all members of the community and integration of technology, especially into the bibliographical sphere, is paramount. We applaud a council which seeks to create a community focused and well utilised hub for their community. What we do not applaud however is the idea that buildings of 50 years standing, from which these services may be relocated, are automatically considered useless or possibly a hinderance for future development (see: The Ivanhoe Civic Master Plan). This a magnificent chance to maintain an iconic-to-the-area structure and turn it into another valuable asset for the council with much less financial burden to the community. Where is the thought for sustainability? The imagination for re-use and reconfiguration? There is speculation that the vacant land left in its regrettable footprint could be sold off to private interests, which would explain it. Of course the only outcome more sinister than the abject loss of a superb Modernist building is that dovetailing with a continuing cancerous trend of transforming of public land into private holdings.
According to the Ivanhoe Library Heritage Assessment, it was suggested that this building is in the way, but in the way of what? It's difficult to ascertain, as there is limited info on what exactly is planned for this space.
"The retention of this building......will place unnecessary constraints on the future use and development of the Ivanhoe Civic Precinct"
However, there are some passionate people out there trying to change the direction of this seemingly pre-destined endgame. If you know the building and what to see it remain, if you are a rate-payer and wish to see it re-used rather than millions spent in it's place or decry it's possible loss to commercial interests or if you are just sick of seeking Modernist public buildings fall, only their loss to be lamented years later - click over to the petition and put your thoughts into action.
Our friends over at Modern Times are holding a drinks do this Thursday evening (2nd October) to open it's evocative new exhibition Midnight Modern, a body of work by Australian photographer Tom Blachford and you are invited!
The artworks are manifestly depictions of glorious Palm Springs tract houses, in particular the homes of the Alexander Construction Company and it's estates built circa 1955/56. The point of difference being that in place of the steadfast glare of the high desert sun to illuminate the architecture, as per typical Palm Springs photography, we find the cinematic depth of night stills with many photographs in the series captured under the glow of a super moon. The elegant but foreboding staginess of the final product is creeping and sentimental all at once and reminiscent to our mind of the work of Gregory Crewdson (sans melancholy housewives and idling cars of course.)
"Deepened by shadows and dashed with stars, each image represents a 30-second exposure. The results appear both deserted and uneasy. These buildings might be iconic, but in Midnight Modern they seem to sit outside of time."
This visually stunning this accomplished work is been presented flawlessly by Modern Times and is sure to be gobbled up by MCM and photography fiends alike.
"Each A0-sized print—impeccably framed by United Measures—will be exhibited with details about the home, including street address and architect. The show will launch with an accompanying limited-edition book, and a catalogue essay by Melbourne-based arts writer Gabriella Coslovitch."
To join in the fun of opening night and perhaps bail up the artist himself to bore him with tales of your moonlit teenage escapades and the dynamism of MCM suburbs, head down to 311 Smith Street, Fitzroy from 6pm tomorrow night.
We apologise for our lax updates of recent months and to our discredit it means so many sensational exhibitions and projects centred on all thing Australian MCM have not been championed by us as they should be. Let the rectification process begin......
The good folk of Modern House continue at the forefront of bringing the cream of MCM homes on the market to an audience of sophisticated Modernist Australian buyers and appreciators. Their latest offering speaks of elegant interiors and historical merit but also brings us an extra way of seeing these homes and playing with the cucumber-cool context of Mid-Century glamour from which they derive.
For your consideration, The Allum House (1968) in Killara, NSW. The work of protégé to Sydney legend Douglas B Snelling, John Hunt. Completed in the late 60s to a basic yet specific brief for a U-shaped family home with kitchen and courtyard at it's heart. Now being sold virtually unchanged by it's original owners, it gives us a spectacular insight into the breezy Mod living as required by the owners, complete with masterfully crafted materials and aesthetics.
Modern House, so smitten by the aura of this magnificent home in their charge, knew it deserved more than just pat information and images. It called for a creative adventure to make real the fantasy we all have for ourselves in the presence of in great Modernist spaces. It wanted for spark, glamour and a lil' somethin' somethin'. So employing the creative nous of photographer Cole Bennetts and vintage uber-stylist Netti Vonthethoff (of April's Caravan) the Modern House crew have succeeded, producing this devine series of swoon-worthy, time-travel moments*. A MA exclusive for you to enjoy.
The Allum House is currently for private sale through Modern House. The first private viewings will be held on Saturday the 9th of August.
See the official listing for more information and photographs.
*Take special note of the last photograph of shimmering late night chic, there is exciting news to follow in the coming days in relation to this.