10 Kosciusko Rd, Balwyn North VIC

Question:
How can such as awesomely impressive Mid-Century residence of flawless build, complete northern orientation, drool inducing original features (the stone fire place, textured entry glass and the light boxes – oh those light boxes!), immaculate condition and seamless design which confidently addresses the elemental lifestyle needs of today as easily as it did 60 years ago, receive such a boilerplate sale pitch and the depressing mention of land size within the first sentence? 

Answer:
It’s Balwyn North, silly.

‘Zimmerman House’ 116 Bulleen Rd, Balwyn North VIC

After that delectable European fare yesterday, let’s go back to the cake shop for another hit. This one in what we’d also deem a hotspot of MMMM – AKA postwar, emigre, domestic architecture, with the name here giving it away off the bat. ‘Zimmerman House’ (c.1967)* is yet again a breathtaking work of era and culturally specific Modern luxe; flawless cream brick, tile and stonework, bespoke joinery, wide breezy living spaces and full-length glazing answering so beautifully to the desires of today’s high-steppers but possessing the exuberant and daring details seemingly long gone. Another which needs a respectful hand, who also knows a great party house when they see one. 

*Designed by Sol Sapir who, like Alistair Knox, is one of our great, Mid-Century,’un-papered’ architects with an outstanding built legacy.

‘Miller House’ 15 Belle Vue Rd, Balwyn North VIC

Taciturn from the street.
Falls away to revel an expansive residence with perfect Northern orientation.
Flawless cream brickwork.
Intact, bespoke joinery.
Genteel, middle-Melbourne, 60s airs.
Tranquil spaces of squared forms, flowing into one another.
A little work needed bring it back to best, but all in all all a stunning offering.
Located in one of the most heinous developer-infected enclaves Melbourne has ever seen and as such, in dire risk of demolition.

Just Balwyn North things.

PS- This house has been revealed to be the work of MMMM star architect Ben Alexander. see another of his killer residential commissions (also in Balwyn North) we recently listed here.

‘Szalmuk House’ 9 Millicent Ave, Balwyn North VIC

A larger than life example of Marvellous Migrant Melbourne Modern, though this time it’s across town in the MCM death valley of Balwyn North. The usual checkboxes here; noted architect of Jewish extraction Ben Alexander, commissioned by similarly observant post-war business success story, G Szalmuk (whom upon a quick Googs seems to have been a very generous fellow with several schools and medical centres around Melbourne bearing this name) and with interior craftwork by the MMMM regular Dario Zoureff. All of this said, there is really only one word to describe this breathtaking 1970 home of large proportions and joyfully elaborate interiors: BOSS.

‘Herbet House’ 6 Orion St, Balwyn North VIC

Oh our stars! This is exactly the type of real estate offering which kick started Modernist Australia in the first place – incredible Mid-Century style, progressive, modest yet exhilarating design, jaw-dropping original interiors but also the pit-of-the-stomach fear that it’s in grave danger. Though its architect is as yet unknown (solved! See update 2 below) we don’t need a big name attached to know it commands saving and restoring. That parquetry, hardwood ceiling, mosaic kitchen tile and of course, that simply awe-inspiring suspended fireplace. These are all features which if to be rebuilt would cost an absolute fortune, yet here they are in lovely condition in an all round breathtaking residence. The lack of photos, floorplan, it’s location (one of the most deadly for original MCM homes in the country) and general encouragement of destruction from the agent (grrrr) sounds the alarm. People! Someone! Anyone! Please take over this home and treat it with the love and care which has seen it through thus far, for it is a gorgeous landmark and must be preserved! 

Shout out to Steven Coverdale and his gang at MCDA for unearthing this one.

**Update** Thanks to Simon Reeves who has scratched up the existing plans (c.1957). Mr Reeves has commented elsewhere that in a heritage study some years ago he recommended this little section of Orion St would be worthy of protection as a heritage precinct.
Of course, they paid no heed to that. 

**Update2** Current tenant Tim has contributed some pics and commentary on unseen aspects; “These photos are OK but it doesn’t get across how good this place is to live in. There are some fantastic design features in this place…………These concrete steps up from the garage are cantilevered. These stairs run up the side of a 90 degree pie shaped conical grotto, lined with volcanic rock. This area is always shaded and remains cool on the hottest days….”

Update 2  – Architect discovered to be one Mr P.P. Packer.

‘Stargazer House’ 1/2 Taurus St, Balwyn North VIC

We’ve been dancing around this one for weeks trying to figure out the right tone in which to deliver this remarkable listing. A benchmark in Melbourne, indeed Australian, Modernist history: the first residential commission for architectural legend Peter McIntyre (c.1950-55), one of our first post-war homes to gain a heritage listing (in 1991) and an outright gobsmaking landmark not least because of that boldly pitched roof of soaring windows, including some experimental cantilever construction, created at the behest of the clients who desired a view which did not include the ocean of tiled roofs which engulfed the landscape.
Now, with such glorious history, prodigious design, miraculous build and formal recognition in mind, how to we reconcile it with the litany of refurbishment offenses to which it has since been subjected? Do we take a light-hearted ‘there’s-no-accounting-for-taste’ attitude and pray that the next custodian can peel back the layers of grey daubed paint, baroquery and downlights which litter all surfaces? Do we dive into headlong into culture wars over the dictated ‘must-haves’ of inspirational, anti-design dead-eyes citing media-rooms as a primary offender (a conversion to this home we simply didn’t have the stomach to display in our write up – check the agent link if you dare)? Do we celebrate the possibility that this variety of heavy handed refurbishment which pays no heed to a building’s original intent, ambiance or materials is on its way out (hey, maybe a housing bust really is on the cards!)? Or do we just sigh, shake our heads and utter ‘We just can’t even’?
We’ll let you decide today, dear reader.

*Much of the historical information and all the non listing images are attributed to Simon Reeves and his wonderful knowledge of this home in his group – Victorian Modern – join up for one of the most learned and amusing commentaries about our Modern heritage in the digital ether. 

7 Lucifer St, Balwyn North VIC

The waft of sulfur emanating from the hills of Balwyn as it rises from bloated temples of excess made manifest by temporary, lucre-chasing demons who have naught but dollar signs in their shimmering eyes, continues unabated. Down on Lucifer Street the satanic chant of STCA* calls us ever closer to bear witness to yet one more sacrifice on the dark altar of avarice. We bid farewell to our world and journey ever downwards into the development abyss.

*If we say STCA backwards 3 times in the mirror at midnight, will that conjure a protective covenant for this home we wonder?

‘Wood House’ 12-14 Tannock St, Balwyn North VIC

A piece of Melbourne history has just popped up playing its chances on the market. With thanks to Steven at MCDA for the info This 1940s Robin Boyd which was subsequently updated twice more by the architect at the owners behest, now stands on the precipice. Not helping its case in the slightest is it’s location in Balwyn North, essentially the Azkaban for Mid-Century homes, as we’ve lost count how many were built there in the first place and have been destroyed in the past decade, perhaps more Australian MCM history lost than any other suburb in the country. Let us not dwell on that right now, but rather luxuriate in the classic Boyd lightness of build and progressive design prioritising the site. Let us remember that this home was built in a time before television, before rock and roll, when everyone wore hats and gloves and was called Smith or Jones or Harris that is to say this is the future as born in the olden days.

1 Page St, Balwyn North VIC

We think we’ve all seen enough of these transactions to adjust the ol’ maxim of hopelessness to “A mid-century home’s chance in Balwyn”. For the simple truth is this house will not be standing in 18 months time, most likely replaced with “a substantial luxury residence” like this. Ew.

88 Longview Rd, Balwyn North VIC

‘Delight’ – great pleasure

‘Simple’ – easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty.

‘Redevelop’ – construct new buildings in (an urban area), typically after demolishing the existing buildings.

‘McMansion’ – a large modern house that is considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity.

‘Lucre’  – money, especially when regarded as sordid or distasteful or gained in a dishonourable way.

‘Buckley’s’ – (slang)  means, ‘no chance in the world’ or about the same chance a snowball would have of keeping its cool in hell.