‘Brindley House’ 273 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag NSW

Back to business this morning, serious business. Not wanting to get you excited but we are confident it will be one of the best homes MA will post in for 2019. Situated (where else?) but the NSW spiritual home of Modernism, Castlecrag, with its architectural history noted in the local newsletter alongside the men’s shed and tennis club open days (hey preservation battlers – there’s an idea) and appearing in government commissioned heritage reports, architect John M. Brindley devised and built this residence as his own in 1955. New owners took over in the mid 60s, added a little extension to the front and that, dear friends, is that. As such this sale seems to be an estate wind up and the home is undoubtedly a little tired and wanting some love (yep there’s a pool under that ‘decking’ out front.) Subsequently the campaign is a rather limp affair with unforgivable photography requiring us to resort to video stills to convey the magic. 
Now, the term ‘Palm Springs’ is as exhausted and abused as we, the voting public, are in this federal election campaign however here it is applicable and if your Mid-Century desires run toward elegant, low-slung homes of glass and white walls and sensible living/sleeping wing division and you’re a sucker for a lush lawns, feature palm trees, poolside crazy paved patios, service courtyards and winding long drives leading to carports then this dear readers, is one for you. Furthermore if you can afford all the extras of higher-end living including wine cellars and bajillion dollar views and this highland-toffy address, yet have the integrity against the stereotype of talk-back listening, developer donating, opera-house advertising, Sirius demolishing, anti-intellectual praising, cashed-up Sydney philistine then get up there and get your paws on a contract. We shouldn’t have to make such a case, this gorgeous segment of waterside MCM divinity should be heritage listed but we’re as usual it’s suspected not and it will be up to one of us to swoop to the rescue. And though the expense is large (impossible for most) the personal reward for doing so is immeasurable. Protect this house and the process save a sliver of your architectural soul.

174 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag NSW

From disposable to prized the spinning wheel lands on any and all possibilities for our MCM built heritage. Today is back to the good with a 1960s sprawler which has been given a bit of a Sydney zhuzh and as such, owing to it’s beautiful bones of course, should be all set to sail through the coming years as a beloved family home with exquisite gardens, rooms, light and locale.

97-99 Sunnyside Cres, Castlecrag NSW

A high level of evasiveness has accompanied this listing which has been sitting on the market for a while. From the stated knowns: primo Castlecrag location and 60 years in the same hands plus a peek or two from some interested Modernist Australians the situation is quickly laid bare: this residence of very attractive brick and stone with very sophisticated lines for its age is most likely the work of a noted MCM architect and is absolutely in dire of attention. That said, we balk at the advice that it is ‘beyond economic repair’ (whatever that means) for if someone has the cash to buy on a clifftop in Castlecrag in the first instance and if someone has the cash to replace said original home with a banal statement in vulgar wealth accumulation (as if that’s some kind of a virtue), then we could also posit that someone else may indeed have the cash, creativity and integrity to swim against this insipid tide and perhaps give this home a sympathetic rebirth. Or is everyone in Sydney with money just a complete tosser?

239 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag NSW

What begins with that delicious yet all class minty timber, sandy stonework and gorgeous name badge our front, reveals itself to be an enormous and swingin’ family home of sensational northern orientation and the added character of copper relief mural (junks a gogo!) with a devine deck area and pool out back. Sure that kitchen has been colonised by really, it would take all of 1 week to revive this already near complete Mid-Century stunner into purist perfection. La-la-love it!

‘Luursema House’ 14 The Tor Walk, Castlecrag NSW

What do we have here? An impressive Seidler (from what we can ascertain, though photos are low res and thin on the ground) in a more than impressive location, listed only by a staff reporter in a publication aimed at high roller property investors (with an intriguing coda about the cantilevered balcony being filled in?). No listing with the supposed agents, nothing on the usual sites or basic Google waltzes. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Our antenna raised enough to go to the top and contact Polly Seidler herself, for fear someone may be trying to offload a bit of Australian built heritage from under our pokey noses. We’re not having that. Stay tuned.

**Update** The indomitable Polly Seidler has advised she also does not know much about this sale, but has offered some info on what and where this home was built, and subsequent alterations. Of course it was photographed by Max Dupain in 1958!

“Originally upper level was cantilevered balcony. But now you see from photo that the lower level has been infilled – non- Seidler (terra cotta tiled entry is clue…….. )
But upper level outside- balcony rail and window/sliding door framing looks as original.
Seems original plans done in 1957 given job no. 57:11 (plans at mitchell library SLNSW) and house finished in late 1958 as it was photographed by Max Dupain on Nov 1958. 
Luursema House is in these books: Harry Seidler 1955/63 book p30-31 has photo and plans/section
Harry Seidler Houses & Interiors Vol 1 (navy)  (Images 2003) page 102-103 – has 3 photos and plans/section etc
and noted in seidler visual bibliography at back of 1992 big frampton & drew ‘harry seidler: four decades of architecture’ book- p402 (scanned chronology pages pdf at www.seidler.net.au – under recognition- bibliography under 4 decades book- abour 6.5MB pdf)
Has front photo and small plans/section.”

**Update pt 2** Now with added listing.

‘The Audette House’ 265 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag NSW

Today we present a bona fide icon in the annals of Modernist Australia, The Audette House. Highly regarded professionally as well as cracking a spot in Karen McCartney’s increasingly seminal tome Iconic Australian Houses 50/60/70 , it was the first commission for notable architect Peter Muller. Designed when he was a mere 24 years old and our country was the provincial back-water known as Australia of 1952 – snug in the grip of Menzies conformity and safety, the memory of WW2 food rations had not yet faded from the collective mind. Yet out of this insipid ground a majestic and full frontal statement in building from ideas; social, industrial and environmental, arose. Muller, whose preoccupation was the world of nature and the canon of Frank Lloyd Wright, eschewed what he saw as the ghastly International design of Le Corbusier to follow his own instincts and develop this monumental yet organic style, beginning with this first work. And here we see it, for sale no less, to the pop culture mind a residence with more than a few Star Wars connotations which correctly pinpoints it’s debt to Japanese aesthetics (it’s perhaps a tie between Lloyd Wright and Lucas as to whom borrowed more from the culture of Japan). Undeniably it’s a breathtaking vision, albeit with a few changes here and there. As McCartney sums up:

“Grounded and low-lying in the landscape, connected to nature and making the most of the winter sun while minimising summer heat, the house is created in materials that hark back to a more rustic age. Yet the use of these materials was far from traditional. They were fashioned to create a fully-formed, dynamic aesthetic which enabled a contemporary way of living”

As Pete Campbell* would observe; sigh, A thing like that.



*Adieu Mad Men, thank you for 7 glorious years.



200 Edinburgh Rd, Castlecrag NSW

Melbourne produced a purebred this week and Sydney have responded in kind. And it doesn’t get more relevant to the story of Mid-Century Modernism in this country than this, at first glance, unassuming 3 bedder. Firstly it is located in Castlecrag, a suburb with progressive ties stretching back to the 1920s when sections of the suburb were carved into estates complete with homes built all under the vision of Sir Walter Burley Griffin, the American-born architect of our nation’s capital (among many notable urban planning projects) and working colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright.

This home though was built in 1964 and is a prime example of it’s creators; the notable Sydney firm of Allen Jack + Cottier. Within the same year this firm were to produce the much revered, award winning residence (and personal favourite of ours) for the Cater family in Canberra, and this? This could be its little sister. The very same elements and materials which conspire to make that house a glorious yet tranquil retreat on a hill are the very same at play here, as described in the linked article:

“From the later 1950s, Sydney architects such as Russell were drawn to the work of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and to the spatial organisation and constructional motifs of traditional Japanese architecture. There was great interest in the natural environment, demonstrated by the design of climatic controls, the manipulation of natural light, the orchestration of views and a response to the forms of the landscape. Russell’s houses of the 1950s and 1960s embody these references in gestures such as the clarity of natural materials and construction techniques, the juxtaposition of dark timber joinery and white walls, and the use of sliding doors and screens to manipulate internal spaces and diffuse the boundaries between inside and outside.”

Again Frank Lloyd Wright is referenced in a returning progression of development and design influences in this special part of Sydney. But it wouldn’t be a listing with MA without the bitter sting of threatened loss. It is a deceased estate. It is on a large block with stunning harbour views. It has already been messed with in various spots (the bathroom, but to a more worrying extent that hideous marble fireplace – why?) and the most distressing of all, the agent after citing its historical provenance blithely suggests knocking the whole place down to build something we’d rather not contemplate.

So once more we put out the call. The bat signal flashes in the sky. Who can take on this glorious place to live? A property which not only grows daily in history, integrity and architectural stature, but is also a comfortable, sunlit, family-sized home? We wonder. We hope.