Though not in the same architectural league as say, some 1930s Miesian-reduced residence of walls and glass, you cannot underestimate the innovation and newness this home in 1950s Tasmania, a small island who in the proceeding 150 years of white expansion had only known slab bark huts, sandstone manors and modest 2-bedroom cottages of a repeating Victorian floor plan with the ubiquitous tacked on kitchens and bathrooms down back. No, this expansive home of large glazing, central (and relatively open) kitchen and intuitive movement from one space to another would have rocked as an ultra contemporary, Post-War home and bringing with it some heavy Kennedy-Camelot joie de vivre. A plausible, nay perfect, backdrop for drinks on the lawn, boating excursions and long summer cricket matches, the echoes of which filter through this essentially untouched home, to this very day.
And here we find ourselves again, at the residence continually eddying in the simmering centre that is the heritage V developer cauldron of Bayside Melbourne. We have listed this absolutely sensational residence of pedigree and prominence at least twice before. Twice before thinking its time was nigh and twice before making the call for a true Modern warrior to set to work within the beautiful lines and materials created here in 1961 by architect (and leading firm partner), Arthur Russell. It transpired the last buyer was not so – putting forward a sub-divison plan which (to our minds thankfully) failed, leaving this home surviving yet another round of the Modernist wars. With this development ‘loss’ in mind, the growing band of Mid-Century Modern enthusiasts growing exponentially and a rich vein of creative couples families and solo masters available to marvellous Melbourne; we again put out the call for a deserving buyer. We’re posting some pics from its first sale years ago to whet the appetites and fire the synapses of those who know true Modernist beauty (and location) when they see it. Sure it is tired. Sure it needs love and care. But it is a grand, unbending survivor which should finally receive the recognition and restoration it deserves and which is so brutally denied to many others in the ‘hood.
Perhaps a QLD Modernist can help us out with this one. A mystery as to date and architect, it is nonetheless rather alluring in its clean spaces, high ceilings and timber features. We suspect it also once had exteriors of unadorned concrete (oh la la!), though like the rest it is difficult to pinpoint. All that guessing gamery aside, it’s a lovely townhouse oozing room and suggesting an easy, breezy lifestyle to be had within.
A few stalwarts shining through tonight – with thanks to regular spotter Tracey for locating this sensational, dynamic residence in the ever-reliable MCM ‘burg of Lenah Valley. And we guarantee involuntary squeals will be released upon inspection of this ripper – starting with that living/lounge wrapped in panes of soaring glass, the brick dividers & planters, the dropped tiled ceiling, split levels and sunny/retro/fabbo kitchen. Throw in rambling gardens festooned with mature trees, sweeping drive and we have a barely changed gem of jaunty Mid-Century joy awaiting one very lucky new lover.
A breathtaking lesson in the downsize; elegant and pristine in presentation, simple yet totally Modern in its considerations for light, lifestyle, materials and space. Designed by architect Frank Dixon in 1974 (whose work you may recall here) for his father as a retirement/downsizer next door to his own family home in the quiet (at the time insipid) streets of the now unstoppable MCM abattoir of Balwyn. Suffice to say we do not have a robust enough collection of superlatives to lay with sincere reverence at the feet of this beauty, and must defer instead, as with all the best ones, to the images. Click and drool kids, click.and.drool.
An Adelaide heartbreaker of epic, million dollar attributes and condition today. We say heartbreaker for only in this capital region do we see such c.1969 higher end craftsmanship, materials (including local hewn stone), expansive grounds and additions (grotto-esq pool – YES!) for round the $700k mark. It’s simply not fair to the rest of us, damn you!
*Cheers to The Local Modernist for unearthing this beauty!
Though the recognition of Mid-Century design and materials pushes forth and the desire for 70s interiors gets stronger, it is thoroughly depressing to see an agent’s opening pitch like this one, especially in the case of such a gorgeously crafted and maintained, c.1966 gem (a rarity we think, in our endless quest for more northern Modern). It would be tempting to write this off as the act of certain Queenslanders who never shook the white-shoe-Bjelke-Petersen mantra of filthy lucre at the expense of natural and built heritage, but that is unfair as we still spot examples sadly all over the country. The best way to oppose this line of thinking of course is for someone to buy it and love it, exactly as it is. Step to Brisvegans.
For those who live for the never ending horizon and rumble of a surfside locale but err towards a more coffee-toned, 70s aesthetic this architecturally designed ripper may be for you. Breezy as you please-y and garnering appeal on an elemental level – those straight-as lines, north/south orientation, cedar beams / panelling and glazing (plus a smidge of seagrass wallpaper) this immaculately intact residence is asking a lot, but offers a lot in return too.
Playing catchup with our listings backlog and sorry to advise but this one has just been snared, rightly so with such elegant architectural lines*, potential for restoration and ample yardage it’s all a bit too enticing for $500k. Once again we have another example of wonderfully conceived and built Modernist domesticity popping up in an unassuming regional suburb.
Admittedly it’s got some heavy ‘Behind the Candelabra’ vibes in place of core Modernist ethos but hey it’s Freaky Friday we’re still on holidays so lets go there. This sprawling, waterfront palace of excess has so much happening we are not sure where to begin – is it the structure itself? A Lucasfilm village of rounded forms and trapezium second story composed of blanc mansonry and mansard-ish slate eaves or perhaps the Italianate, no-expense-spared Futurist flair touching everything from that twirly balustrade (achieving so much that Wagner’s McMansions attempt) to the fixed bed heads, the cascading disco light fittings, sunken lounge, timber interiors and marvellous curved kitchen. We’re also curious as to its history and speculate that perhaps it’s a castle that a near extinct fish built. No matter, for whatever the story this one is guaranteed to slip anyone into Friday evening mode – so pump the Chaka Khan, don the white suit and get that party started.
One last offering from South West Vic. before we swing away and another farm spread this one huge in both scale and pedigree. A 1975 commission by the legendary Charles Duncan at the behest of a client whom (like many down in squattocracy row) has direct Scottish ancestry and street address of the same name. This compound of hefty masonry horizontals paired with dark timber displays Duncan’s distinctive and deeply organic sensibility. Throw in some great split level livings areas, planters and typically 70s wild tile and its one very swingin’ (or is that highland flingin’?) rancho on the Shipwreak Coast.
If the crashing waves, salt and scrub isn’t really your summer jam, then a south west turn from our latest beach shack will lead you into the lush forest and sweeping pastures of the greater Otways and this wonderfully homey property tucked into a special corner. Unlike your typical farm residence – a pedestrian brick veneer or 19th century Country Style homestead the owners here have carved out a thoughtfully designed, beautifully crafted and lovingly cared for homestead with late Modern architectural flair and the cosiest spaces around – cool in high summer and super toasty in winter when this neck of the woods really comes into its own. One for those whose tractor and dairy dreams run alongside their design ones.
The text book. The template. The Class A in our taxonomy of The Australian Mid-Century Beach House; this beautiful, basic home of board, timber and large sections of glass speaks volumes about a certain set of priorities (hint- it’s not fancy appliances and butler’s pantries). In peak summer break and with the new year ticking over many of us attempt to rediscover what is important and act accordingly making time for family, friends, self, quiet, fun and nature. No other architecture to our mind compliments this recalibration of values and provides the perfect environment in which to achieve it.
Our first freaky Friday for 2019 which is not so much freaky but rather insanely freakin’ sublime. Unearthered by Modernist Australian Nicholas (on a recent summer stroll) it’s not even for sale (2015 it was, 2 years too late we are) but in the case of such a heart palpitating residence we’ll break our usual conventions and list it up for adoration and collective analysis on who exactly could be behind this, because we know it must be someone notable. Bearing some McGlashan Everist hallmarks not least in those clifton grey bricks, raw timber, cork and courtyard configuration, though it may as easily be from a Canberra based heavy hitter such as Theo Bishoff – who is to say? Dear experts out there we solemnly put the provenance question to you. In the meantime we’ll simply click and sigh deeply at the stunningly pared back, pristine yet unconventional spaces (and that to-die-for floating staircase) and hope with all our hearts its lucky owners know what they have on their hands.
Our big takeaway from 2018? That although the earlier incarnations of Mid-Century domesticity will always have their fierce admirers – a 1950s Boyd cottage here, an early 60s apartment complex there – there is currently a massive wave of love crashing over the terracotta tile, exposed brick and timber bathrooms of the most purely Australian, later Modern homes. We knew the socials would (and always did) fire up the most for beautiful expressions in these generally hefty listings of an unabashed earthy and indigenous aesthetic. The Sibbels, Knoxes, Merchant Builders and Sydney Schoolers all having a moment and fanning out in desire far beyond the usual roll call of architectural and design nerds. Maybe it’s the the last babies of the 70s retreating into their first home memories; the softness of sound absorbing carpet, living spaces of both light and shade and the economic stillness of natural climate regulation. Who knows? However, our gut points to it being just the start and that we’ll see it build even more this year – in decor, design and appreciation all round, and if that means an end to mindless render, white-outs and down lights then let’s celebrate and set the first drop with this absolute stunner from the acres of outer Perth.
Hello 2019! And while the lucky ones can get out and enjoy the smaller, quieter or more remote places in our lives we’re teaming with the theme and staying out of town for the next little while too. Today we find ourselves in the home of crater lakes and Dave Graney, the staunch little boarder town of Mount Gambier which has always punched above its Mid-Century weight (you can start at The Blue Lake Motel and work your way in) and this example of a classic AV Jennings project home ‘Glenbrook/Caprice’ by architect John Campbell (c.1963)* has all your Atomic Ranch aspirations at hand, including that sensational entry and room to spare out back. The price tag too – like most of our regional fare – is sweet relief.
Let’s stay outta town with this regional Queensland surprise package. Frankly speaking regional Qld is most often the haunt of more down-at heel, dishevelled or eccentric Mid-Century offerings however this sensational spread a stones throw from Tomato Island (we had to get that in somehow) is a bona fide pedigree. In almost unreal condition for its age and boastful of its 1966 architectural roots (though not sure of the creative hand behind it) this family home of simple but superb design has a proud and beautifully kept legacy. This is most clearly seen in those intelligent interiors, gorgeous bespoke joinery, clean light fittings, accomplished build and the fact that (like the best of MCM) it responds to the needs of contemporary living immediately with only very minor, superficial changes in order, if at all. And like its regional brethren you get all this joy, history and spacious living for a mere $330k – dark rum cocktails all round!
A Christmas miracle confluence of premier Victorian beach town and preeminent Victorian architect, this residence was Guilford Bell‘s second commission for the Seccull family, completed a mere year after their city home was finished. Now, those of you with pachyderm memories and/or super serfs at the foot of the Australian Modern gods will remember when we showcased the first Seccull House 2 years ago. This formiddible statement of theoretical breadth and unfettered vision clearly impressed Mr and Mrs Seccull enough for them immediately request a holiday house in the then boho and surfer dream town of Lorne. This auspicious combo of patronage, prestige and place leads to this 1973 listing which should have many weak at the knees. A configuration in two parts: the bedroom wing – a comfortingly steadfast block of repeating windows, rooms and balconies – a design which had roots in the 1930s Internationalist circles, but which thereafter become 20th Century design shorthand utilised in everything from motels to offices to retails strips across the globe. And in an adjoining twist, but very typical of Bell’s (especially later) work, the living dining pagoda-esq pavilion topped with an incredible timber-lined ceiling and exapnisve decking affording all the breathtaking Otway coast views. To die to die! Of course it’s had its share of updating (some bits most successful than others) but for the most part it remains close to the original in form and it would be a hard heart indeed who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for the chance of inhabiting such a home of such provenance and location.
Historical photos curtesy of Simon Reeves at Victoria Modern – many thanks Mr Reeves!