We’d like to thank and commiserate with Australian Modernist Martin who let us know of what we all just lost. Guilford Bell’s superb riverside villa on St Georges Rd, Toorak, complete with large Edna Walling garden taking up the glorious northern orientation, which sold 2 years back for 5.5 million, has been reduced to rubble this past week. We suppose it will be replaced with some form of venal mega mansion but who knows? All we do know is that when people can’t see the value in holding onto a sensational home built by one of Australian Modernism’s heavy hitters, then what chance does anything have?
**Update** The who knows question has been answered by those close to the project over at RAIDSTUDIO Architects & Interior Designers and it seems the house may have been indeed unsalvageable. As always, clarification is key, and we welcome any updates from those so concerned ………
“I thought you and your readership may be interested to know that the so called ‘superb riverside villa’ designed by Guilford Bell was, in fact, lost to insensitive alterations and additions works many years ago. The house was originally built in 1953 for the Long family but underwent major alterations and additions works under the direction of architect Norman Brendel and Associates for the Johnson family in the 60’s………Indeed, I am reliably informed by Bell’s surviving practise director Graham Fisher, that many years ago, subsequent to the alterations and additions works, even Bell himself lamented the deterioration of his design as they both drove past the property along St Georges Road!
And on Edna Walling’s garden, I also attached photography from 2014 showing the state of the garden. I am sure that you would agree that what remained was surely beyond resurrection? That is, what remained was literally an assortment of weeds species with no garden beds to be seen.
Our client purchased the house on the pretense of sincerely appreciating and wanting to live with modernist architecture. However, due to the fact that the existing house was not up to the building regulations of today – non-compliant stairs, windows, insulation etc. – and riddled with asbestos, extensive demolition of the somewhat dubious ‘superb riverside villa’ was required. Our proposed remodeling of the house seeks to restore certainly part of the physical fabric of the original design but also the spirit of mid-century modernism from which the house originally sprung. We would welcome your commentary on the completed current project which is scheduled for completion at the end of 2016.”