Let us now retreat back down to Melbourne and into the world of European delicacies with two very fine examples of Marvelous Migrant Melbourne Modern (MMMM) today. Starting with this gorgeous and untouched beauty and first one built (c.1963) in this noted road of the matzo heartland that is Caulfield North. Everything in right place, like time hasn’t moved a second – the breathtaking terrazzo, custom joinery by Dario Zoureff (natch), pink bathroom, breeze block, golden wallpaper, parquetry. We mean – sheesh – the front door here holds more craftsmanship in its ornately carved frame than most volume knock-ups have in their entire construction, hell, an entire estate! It bears repeating that this kind of detail and creative boldness is simply not done these days, we have not the materials, nor the finely skilled artisans on call like these families employed back then and it pains us to think such manifest magic could be simply skipped by the next spiv who rolls along with dollar signs in their eyes and polystyrene board in their veins. Nope, it will not do. Someone buy this and save it. Preferably today. Please and thank you.
Melbournians! It’s a balmy Friday night, summer around the corner, our minds turn to outdoor soirées and – to quote Mr D. Byrne – this must be the place.
A Bagel-Belt mindblower to end the week the same way it started with incredible Mid-Century living, for lease. This magical proposal of 5-bedrooms, resplendent parquetry and joinery, butterfly roofline, double story glazing and that staircase/pool one-two punch will have those who dream of Birdie Num-Nums and digging West Coast Cool Jazz, gasping for air.
Time to collect your 5 besties, done your kaftan, crank the Mancini and retreat to 1968 for the remainder of this year and into the foreseeable future.
Yet another slice of Marvellous Migrant Melbourne Modern, this time from Cezch-born WW2 émigré Robert Roch for the Jewell Family (c.1969) displaying once more the lavish craftsmanship and no-expense-spared stylings of our new, Mid-Century Australians, their old-world sophisitcations and progressive intellects. Where would we be today without them?
(Hint- not drinking a good Sunday morning coffee for starters.)
Hefty yet super sleek, this slice of Marvellous Migrant Melbourne Modernism (MMMM) drawn from a blessedly bottomless well of superbly maintained, imposing residences which initially (if not still) house their commissioning owners, were built with a level of investment and craftsmanship unseen in the country before or since. Perhaps in proud resolve to their new country and survival in the face of annihilation, this particular example (like so many in the area) was built for European diaspora Marek and Guta Procel and designed by dynamic post-war architect couple (and holocaust escapees) Joshua and Mary Pila, in 1967. Over ten years ago it was taken over by interior designer Caroline Gibbes who proceeded to ever-so lightly update the home, promoting the gorgeous timber work (a legacy of local go-to craftsman Dario Zoureff) (oh that entry!) and keeping the parquetry, terrazzo, metallic wallpaper, updating the kitchen in total harmony with the age and sensibility of the home. The end result is that this residence has since been sold again with no meddling from any lesser vision. A success in refurbishment which continues to shimmer with total sophistication and ease of living.
With thanks to our Rolodex experts; Simon at Built Heritage & Steven of Mid Cenutry Domestic Architecture for all the historical tidbits.
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.
For those of you still mopping up the lather from viewing Restoration Australia lastSunday night and the magical craftsmanship and decorative zing indicative of our Marvellous Migrant Modernism, then cast your eye back Melbourne way for another helping. ‘Light House’ (c.1967) was a commission for Polish émigré architect turned Studley Park fixture, Kurt Elsner for Samuel and Helen Light and like so many bagel belt offerings is in excellent original condition. A typical to type, flat-roofed, solid brick construction consisting a simple, expansive set of spaces, flourishes of carved timber motif and gorgeous personal touches such as the opaque screens for bathroom facilities, it would be not only a pleasure but a privilege to inhabit such an elegant and finely conceived residence. Let’s hope many others see it in the same way.
That decor. The cream surfaces with gold filagree detailing, baby chandeliers in crystal and metallics, flawless parquetry and always, ALWAYS textiles of a deep turquoise. We like to call it the ‘Onassis chic’, capturing all the high-end, late 1960s, pared back sophistication of the Mediterranean jet-set, elegant as a slim diamond necklace on a very beautiful woman who speaks 4 languages. And it’s not very often you find it these days, those beautiful women all now elderly or gone, their homes turned out and refurbished with a more ‘contemporary’ style. But here it sits, a veritable vault of 1968, in dazzling condition and up for rent. So get in there beautiful people. Don the Dior, cue up the Françoise Hardy and start entertaining in rarified style.
A subtle street presence. Cared and lived in, in a manner which itself demands our admiration for such negligible wear and tear, whilst still evoking instant welcome, warmth and ease. An epic front door. Solid, unyielding brickwork and tiles. A stylishly daring kitchen. Windows everywhere letting the light flood in. Talismans of cultured European owners. A no-nonsense floor plan. A backyard just aching for a tiny zhush of festoon lights (or maybe a pool?) to make it sublime. Everything one comes to expect from a certified Caulfield North classic. *sigh*
And so it seems that the ‘Lind House’, the wonderful, unmolested residence by Anatol Kagan which the previous owner tried so desperately to find a loving owner to buy, was purchased by developers instead. There was no heritage overlay, and none sought. These developers are presently seeking permit for 8 town houses, see the application details here (type in application number GE/PP-30607/2017). This home will be demolished before the year is out unless the Glen Eira Council hear an uproar and re-consider their usual rubber stamp for such projects. This is the form to submit your opposition to it and more council info here – we implore you to take the small time to do this. Once it is gone, it will never be coming back.
This home is one of only a small collective of domestic buildings conceived by a noted, local Mid-Century architect which survive in the leafy ‘burbs of Melbourne. Several others by Kagan such as ‘Anschel’ and ‘Lyall’ houses (both in Kew) are revered, photographed, treated with love and lived in as per their original remit. ‘Lind House’ has a rightful place among them. It is not a wreak. It is not some half-baked retro Modern curio. It has pedigree, intrinsic value and is part of Melbourne’s history.
**Update** Wowee! What an response we – all the Modernist social media and bloggers – have garnered! The mainstream press is all over this AND (what’s even better) it looks like the Glen Eira Mayor has applied for interim protection for this residence from the Planning Minister (fingers crossed). In addition they have have made the call out to anyone to advise them of any MCM architecture to note for their comprehensive heritage review presently underway. So to ensure your local Modernist favourite in the hood does not suffer the same precarious fate at the ‘Lind House’ we’d suggest letting Glen Eira council know about it ASAP. In a spread which includes suburbs like Caulfield, Elsternwick and St Kilda we know there is a lot worth protecting.
A pure example of ‘Marvellous Migrant MCM Melbourne’. One of the best and most intact we’ve seen in while. Held steadfast by its owner, who has contacted us, and is intent of transferring her home to only the most devoted Modernist to ensure its passage into the future. This splendid residence, inside and out, is the work of Anatol Kagan, who holds a place in our hearts (here is an earlier listed house) and the wider Mod community, not only as a brilliant architect but also all round good guy. We encourage all of you to track down Simon Reeve’s book ‘Gentle Modernist, The Nine Lives of Anatol Kagan‘ to fully understand his incredible life story and catalogue of work. But now to this house: a 1959 landmark of progressive design and sublime detail situated in the heart of southern metro Melbourne as its own wiki page attests:
“The house is primarily composed of protruding bays and timber mullioned window walls, shaded by deep eaves, stone and brick construction with concrete elements. The upper level constitutes most of the glass with glazing at the rear and lower level, it is one of the most significant design elements of the house as it floods most of the upper level with natural light. The house does not demonstrate a Pitched roof, in place it uses a raked flat roof with an overhang on the front facade for shading onto the entrance. Two storeys in height, the upper level is primarily living quarters and dining where the lower level is non living space and the lounge with access to the back yard.”
Now (we’ll re-proclaim like a broken record) as a community we simply cannot ‘protect’ every home of Twentieth Century architectural brilliance with some form of ‘heritage overlay’. We clearly acknowledge that ‘governmental protection’ is bound by both tooth metaphors – rare as hens and generally effective as a tiger without. And when a residence such as this is sold, demolished (with or without council approval) and the land carved up for insipid new construction, no amount of moaning, petitions, photos or social media growls is going to bring it back. We plead to you all that now is the time to act, this is when such architecture is most vulnerable. Now is the time to spread the word and find that lucky soul with the money and vision to ensure that demolition does not happen. Now is the time to galvanise, share it and save it. So get rolling.
**Update** A post on social media from the owner suggests we are going to lose this one. We implore the owner, or anyone who can avoid the imminent demolition of this gorgeous home to act ASAP!