That jaunty, buttery street face, complete with sweeping entry walk beckons all those who wistfully aspire to a suburban dreamscape. Where the searingly acute beauty of the Australian beach hamlet is entwined with 60s shapes, the lush gardens and worship of the light and offers up a slice of family paradise for those so seduced. A price-tag, the only a chest sagging thump back to reality, in the story of this Mid-Century delight.
Every now and then we are able to post up a residence which transcends our little world of listings and design chat and stands within a greater avenue of historical document, today we have a standout. ‘McNicoll House’ was a commission by Major General R.R.McNicoll for firm Grounds, Romberg and Boyd however this transpired in the very years in which Roy Grounds walked away with the National Galley of Victoria commission and this most famous of partnerships dissolved (1962). Suffice to say that while that drama played out on St. Kilda Rd on the other side of the Botanical Gardens this home initially begun by Grounds and concluded by Boyd, was conceived and constructed (c.1963). And it shows in that soaring heft of form that this encapsulates an architectural spirit more indicative of a Grounds design than Boyd. The main entry point is a private and unassuming drive in from Gordon Grove, whilst from the secondary road access of Caroline St. rises the bold, double story intervals of glass and block wall. A renovation in 2007 has kept the original timber and brick finishes internally, whilst adding a pool and some ‘contemporised’ flair, along with natural form landscaping by Caroline Blackman.
This local landmark has been home to three families and the current vendor seeks similar to assume gracious custodianship of this remarkable building.
We ourselves have been very lucky to receive some extra information about this residence, not least in a letter (posted here) from Robin Boyd to the owner dated April 1960, which not only captures the pragmatic and stunningly Australian casualness of Boyd but also offers a rare glimpse of his incredible design mind, in his own words.
We welcome you all to look, read and soak up this slice of Modernist Australian history at your leisure, and if you have the means then perhaps take it a little further……..
*B&W images curtesy of MCDA.
It doesn’t take a creative genius to strip off that faux-colonial garnish and see this magnificent 1966 home by notable architect Frank Stary shining out. And what a ripper it is! In fact we offer nothing but thankful-hand emojis that the interiors, oozing the warmth of timber, stone and sunlight through those huge north-facing windows, have remained as intact as they have. Lap it up.
Under offer – sorry guys – most likely snapped up in the whirl of Canberra Modern festival, but we felt compelled to post one from our nation’s democratic capital today. And whilst you peruse the beauty of sustainable, timeless design, the integrity of natural materials and solid craftsmanship we’d encourage you all to apply these values to the candidates today and vote accordingly and below the line*. Design, like everything else, is political.
*in other words – DO NOT VOTE FOR THE LNP./PUP/NAZI ANNING/OR THE BLOODNUT
(partisan? You bet we are.)
Who is the beautiful bohemian responsible for this?! We demand answers as to the history and construction of this glorious slice of domestic semi-rural, crafted Modernity. Our minds are racing all over the brilliant orientation, sunken levels with cat walk thoroughfare (cleverly dividing kitchen, living and bedroom sections), exquisite glazed green floor tiles and that raised brick and copper triangle fireplace which has now cemented for us a new foray for December: The MA 2019 Best Homes Awards, special category – fireplace (might as well hand it over now). Let’s also not lose sight of those magnificent grounds (over 1/2 an acre), deliciously diffident entry/garage, mature trees and rolling lawn blanketed in autumn leaves for all intents and purposes looking far more like a MCM find from Midwest USA, than outer Melbourne. We suspect someone knows something, so let’s hold tight and see what is revealed………..
This one has been loitering for quite some time and praise be the architect gods, there has been no takers as yet to the idea of destroying this stunning (c.1959) home by architect Nick Sofarnos and replacing it with some polystyrene clad dreckery.
Sitting quietly on the market (which is perhaps in decline now), this home is just waiting to be seen by the right new custodian and with so much potential to sympathetically recalibrate it into a residence of deeply sophisticated, yet self-contained beauty, we believe it’s time someone really stepped to.
*Many thanks to the wonderful Simon Reeves for clarifying in this home’s true history!
Ever wanted to pop into Boyd’s legendary home in Walsh St? Perhaps wanted to say hi to us? Well tomorrow night you can do both as we venture into the weeds of ‘Midcentury Modernism in a Post Ironic World’ – the third instalment of the Boyd Foundation’s Heritage Speaker Series as part of the ‘Robin Boyd Centenary of Design’ year long celebrations.
We are honoured to sit beside heavy hitters Debbie Ryan, Adele Winterage, Erna Walsh forming a quartet of Melbourne design lady-power and talking all things Modernist, irony, trend and identity. We would love you to swing by and join the chat, so come on over!
Post irony is a term used to connote a state in which earnest and ironic intents become muddled – is modernism simply a trend on repeat or does it have deeper connections to modern living?
Post-Ironic Modernism – Heritage Speaker Series #3
Wednesday 16th May 6.30 – 8.30pm
@ 290 Walsh St, South Yarra.
Tickets can be bought here.
If this super cool timber, Mid-Century home of clearly set living and sleeping quarters, divider cupboards and carport looks familiar it’s because you’ve seen it before, in Cowes. And before that we knew it to be in Barwon Heads (alas – no longer standing). Seems this particular project home plan did the rounds in Victoria and several managed to stay unchanged for over 5 decades. We don’t hold hope for this one so we’d suggest the best course of action is for someone seeking a first home or perhaps a perfect lo-fi retreat for their rural/beach block to get onto the seller ASAP, pick up this baby and take her away. Relocating is far cheaper than building from scratch and it’s the ultimate form of reuse. MCM rescue – sustainability is go!
The might of Marvellous Migrant Modern Melbourne raises its head and casually schools us all with a display of formidable size, form, materials and craftsmanship. The eternal wellspring of high-end residences and filmset-level Mod chic, the bagel belt, serves this up to us and dares us to ignore it. But how can we? From the very front fence and timber relief entry-wall we are smacked about the head with a collection of stunningly Modern spaces festooned with fittings and features only millions of dollars (and perhaps a tradesman time-machine) could replicate today. Sooooo much desire, so much awe but really just another day for this side of town.
The year was 1966. Nancy Sinatra supplied the Broccoli brothers with our favourite Bond theme of all time – the Anlgo-Japanese swoon of ‘You Only Live Twice’. And on a pitched corner block in sleepy Glen Waverley architect Bruce Morgan (here eulogised by Neil Clerehan) designed this astounding home for client, Van Aken. Morgan is recognised for his clean, functional style and interest in pre-fab but we suspect perhaps the client, as the afore mentioned James Bond, had a thing for umami, tatami and shoes off at the front door such is the distinct Japanese stylings of this residence. The timber baton ceiling, simple squared spaces, and of course use of sliding screens all details which have thankfully not been destroyed by any subsequent owner and remain an elegant and rather unique testament to the desires of the client and accomplished hand of the architect.