Still staying Peninsula side, we just had to get this posted as yet another pedigree rental which could do very well as party central. A c.1958 commission for David Chancellor (naturally of firm Chancellor & Patrick) this one has been leased in the past and seems again to just be sitting around empty, waiting for new tenants. With that handsome main living, bland yet clean new kitchen, bedrooms to accomodate 4 (perhaps up to 8)and a sweeping lawn just crying out for bocce and beers and a bonfire we think $650 a week ain’t too much to ask. The call of the contemporary commune is strong with this one.
We’ve just received the news from Keely (bittersweet thanks) that the magnificent Chancellor House II, yes David Chancellors own family home which he designed himself c.1957 and rebuilt again after a fire c.1970 (and which we listed last year) now has cyclone fencing around it. It has a demolition permit approved in City Of Whitehorse register and (surprise friggin surprise!) a permit approval for 2 dwellings. No doubt these two townhouses will be some of the most innovative, well conceived, architect designed and crafted homes of already assumed historical value to dovetail beautifully with those majestic, 50 year-old trees which we are sure will be left standing, cooling all as summer fast approaches and keeping the green suburban character alive, ultimately ensuring that the destruction of such a fine and livable example of our influential architectural heritage, materials and design will not be in vain.
Or maybe not.
We apologise in advance for the bait and switch, for although this is a legitimate listing and still wonderful home (with a few beach house extensions) and the main building remains intact, we cannot avert our eyes from the original; a veritable lesson in Mid-Century Australian, nay, international Modernism. Many thanks to Steven at MDCA for all the intel and historical images (more here), for what is a truly breathtaking example. This beach house designed by David Chancellor (of oft celebrated firm Chancellor & Patrick) in 1953. It was constructed for £2000 utilising a system of pre-fab panels hung on a timber frame sitting on a concrete base, with that beautiful stone hearth providing a focus in the living zones whilst separating the sleeping/bathing and cantilever beams stretching over the terrace. And.that.is.it. Stripping back amenity and form to just the elegant essentials, this home at 65 years of age is a pinnacle of Modern design. It could certainly hold its own with any small, domestic projects built in the US or Europe in the era and undertaking, we dare say, far greater material, financial and cultural constraints but additionally stands up today, with the original,1953 1-bedder comparable to anything being offered by the premier pre-fab, small homes and higher-end architects practising right now. And once more it returns us to the question: Where the hell did it all go so wrong? If this is what we were building in the early 1950s, then why are so many of our glorious beach ‘burbs slathered in stale brick veneer, tiled roofed, neocolonial mediocrity? We had it in the palm of our hands to build for our lifestyle, with a discipline of elemental sophistication, as built by world leaders of design and we turned our back on it for over 30 years – only to find ourselves repeatedly startled by seeing what we think of as ‘contemporary’ is actually more than 60 years old.
PS- Grab your diving mask & spearguns, gonna get us some crays!
Today a sublime combination of local history and inspirational renovation. In our 10 years at MA we’ve listed this home twice before and on both occasions thought it would be for the last time as earlier listing images and reports from the ground had indicated a run-down and almost dank property requiring real vision and yakka to bring it from the brink. Longtime family home of beloved cartoonist ‘W.E.G’ (there is no footy fan over a certain age who will not have a WEG poster hidden on some wall, somewhere) this is yet another architectural knockout from the fabulous Chancellor and Patrick (c.1962). A typical classic with its gabled roof, heavy FLW masonry and beautiful timber work. So now we report with glee that a visionary was found (or perhaps they found this home) and in the spirit of the Fitzpatrick House we listed last month, it too has just charged triumphantly through the banner ready to rumble in championship condition once more. And, not discounting the incredible toil undertaken here, it’s quite eye-opening what the simple placement of a pool fence can do right? Highest praise to the vendors and good luck to all who are throwing into the ring in for this one, it really is a heroic house.
A little early for the miracle of Easter Sunday, but why can’t we celebrate the rising of the dead too huh? We recall this particular residence back in an ‘offline’ patch and thought it was a goner. For sure it’s a bona fide Chancellor and Patrick – those solid brick supports, gabled roof and horizontal stretches of timber and windows indicate no other, however in its previous for sale listing in 2014 it was on the brink – looking very rundown and in that neck of the woods more likely to meet its end making way for some low-level townhouse development. But no! Praise be on this blessed weekend we see it has not only survived and was brought back to best by saviours who at this stage remain anonymous. So here we are for your consideration; a gorgeous, solid af Mid-Century home (c.1959) by legendary practitioners whose main following resides in the fancypants sandbelt. A home renovated with real respect to the past and an eye to the the future. A home in the trees with the best of Melbourne vistas. A residence which, considering its provenance, condition, architectural idiosyncratic flair (oh that FLW-esq fireplace!) and position in the middle east is apparently not asking an insane amount. All said and done – a little something to really to rejoice in.
The second in our ‘name architect’ listings, make no mistake, is sitting on the precipice. Unlike the Russell Jack residence this morning which has been lovingly updated and sold promoting its obvious and winning architectural credentials this case (like so many others we’ve seen over the years) has interested parties choosing only to pander only to filthy development dollars and hence is down-playing, nay, concealing it’s architectural significance hoping that no one will notice. Well, newsflash, we notice*. MCM architecture throughout this land now has eyes on every corner and voices in every suburb and we refuse to let a significant CHANCELLOR AND PATRICK residence indeed the ARCHITECT’S OWN, go unnoticed. So here it is. Chancellor House II, designed by David Chancellor of Chancellor & Patrick Architects for himself and wife Phyllis Chancellor (c.1957). Burned to the ground in 1970 and rebuilt (the post floor plan images are of the original). A picturesque example from a firm which regularly reminds us of its brilliance up and down the Mornington Peninsula such as here and across Melbourne seen here and here. We have no need to go into the stunning aspects, materials, design and feel of this majestic residence nor why it manifests so much more inherent value than a white line and 1/2 an acre in the seventh ring of development hell. We could reel off historical tidbits such as this house was chosen as one of the ten most significant Australian houses and a finalist in the Architecture and Arts Awards 1958–1959. But what we really want to drive home to all those dullards who believe that janky townhouse speculators deserve first dibs on such precious Melbourne jewels, is that there are those who would pay to live and love it here – yes the millions – we have proven this in the recent Lind house fight. Protection, restoration and celebration are not the financial blow they are made out to be. In fact they make a suburb valuable and highly prized long after the polystyrene has rotten and non-code panels have caught fire on those dismal, quick-buck-non-designed townhouses. These homes are the sophistication and the chic that no glossy website will ever match. These recognised architectural pinnacles enhance life and meaning to those who live inside and around them. They teach us what can be achieved and how to go about it. And it is high time everyone learned that.
*Actually, it was Steven Coverdale, bless him, who found this one.
The time-machine quality of the internet, when perusing real estate listings, is an emotional rollercoaster. We can view changes to our environment good and bad in full colour and are then left to to digest such change. Sometimes that digestion gives us hope, sometimes heartburn, but no amount of Gaviscon will help us with this example we present today: Prunella Close, Doncaster, in Victoria.
A magnificent, palatial proportioned residence by local architectural masters Chancellor and Patrick, this residence was always going to attract a big spender when it sold just over 2 years ago and it seems that big spender fancies themselves as an ‘interior designer’. Well, pardon our venom but what they have achieved in that time signifies a design intellect and capability informed exclusively by hubris and a bank account. Being a fan of The Block and adopting the features of insipid, high-end, chain hotels does not a true interior designer make. Because, lets face it, any aimless person can scatter some cushions round their living room, post it on Instagram and call themselves a stylist or interior designer these days. Why devote thought and quiet time to deeper considerations? Shopping for stuff is the peak of creativity, all that maters is surface and how expensive (or cheap) it was right?
We know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
What we see here is the damage done by this mindset – wonderful homes with an architect’s considered materiality and deference to the quasi-bushland environment – earthiness, texture, dark lushness and light interplay – turned into an echoey, snow-blind ‘contemporary home’ (TM) with all the apparent ambience of a Westfield food court. Add more down lights! Plaster that brick! Rip up that soft, tactile carpet and slap down those dull grey (always grey) tiles, clattery throughout! Rip out that gorgeous (and valuable) hardwood kitchen in totality and put up some veneered MDF! Don’t forget the marble because we are classy and marble is what classy people do. FFS.
The most disappointing thing is, when the wheel of fashion has turned once more, when white is ‘out’ and exposed brick is ‘back in’ (when mainstream tv shows announce it so), when people are finally reminded to consider warmth and sound, this home will be recognised as being altered very badly, but bringing it back to original will be close to impossible.
In the excellent essay ‘How Beige Took Over American Homes’ by the much admired Kate Wagner AKA McMansion Hell (if you’ve never seen – be prepared to cry with tears of mirth and recognition) theorises about the North American cousin of such interior styling; the ‘Pre-GFC Beige Out’, a staple of the 2000s renovation craze, her succinct point (and rather ominously for us with the Australian housing market in its present state) was;
“Our houses lost their personal worth and touches; they were worth to us only as much as they were worth to others. Our houses were painted beige because beige enabled the prospective buyers we (even unintentionally) were designing for to picture their own lives in our houses. Beige is a blank slate – a canvas upon which anyone’s personality can be painted over………….. After centuries of the home being primarily a place or a space, during the 2000s it was seen as primarily an object or, more specifically, an asset. At a time where mortgage speculation made our houses disposable and impermanent, beige slipped happily onto the walls of millions of Americans, who wanted easy ways to make their house “worth more” at the behest of HGTV and other media, who treated the home as a thing to be changed, or disposed of on a whim”
Swap the word ‘beige’ for ‘white’ and this is what we see happening here right now. Give it some plaster, a TV approved luxe-over and then a flip. And though we’d gladly concede in some cases a freshen up for a mediocre or falling down residence is a chance at new life, and in many cases appreciate a contemporary rescue over the wasteful growl of a bulldozer – we do not accept such DIY forays with masterful originals. Not with Chancellor and Patricks. Not with such already beautifully appointed interiors and mature gardens. Leave them alone, they are beautiful, they are homes for living in. And if you have the itch? Go try your designer hand with something more comparable to your skill set: like a one bedroom, 1980s brick veneer flat and then see where that takes you.
We received a couple of Mornington Peninsula updates this week from two very lucky families. Each have purchased homes listed with us!
Samone her husband (and twins) have snapped up the sweet and neat Parkdale gem in Ilma Court, after seeing it here no less! They are looking forward to keeping it pretty much the same and enjoying its beautiful family set up (though they’d love the name of a good cabinet maker who can slightly adjust the kitchen, in keeping with the original Mod lines – anyone?).
Venturing further to Frankston and we have Sally and Michael who will draw jealous sighs from many with their purchase of the magnificent Chancellor and Patrick homestead ‘Polperro’ (see header image). They too intend of keeping it as original as they can.
What can we say? This is what we are here for. MA have always subscribed to the idea that although heritage listings are fine, they ultimately cannot protect nor sympathetically enhance a great Modernist home in the same way an appreciative and sincere owner can. With this lovely news we are overjoyed that we have helped to secure two more righteous properties from the ravages of mediocrity and more importantly see everyday Australians enjoying their new homes and lives within.
Keep them coming people!
In the heart of Chancellor & Patrick country and just across the road from David Chancellor’s family home sits this grand landmark called ‘Polperro’ AKA The Johnston House. Built in 1953, it’s main living spaces speak of a horizontal heaviness and organic stonework (including that beautiful broad fireplace) which sets a direct line of influence to US master Frank Lloyd Wright. Encompassing timber detailing on selected walls (such a gorgeous early example of what was to become a favourite staple of Mod Australian interiors) the aforementioned stonework and windows spanning out to gloriously wide terrace – this is an arresting and spectacular residence which calls for loving care but also, we think, regular parties on balmy summer evenings (show your appreciation – what better way is there?). A much stalked home, according to nearby Modern Australians, it is now on the market requiring a big outlay (well, not in peninsula terms) but only small refurbishment to bring it back to the future and to ensure it’s standing as the celebrated local it has become.
You know things are dire when a classic Modernist home by a notable firm goes on the market and there is only a single aerial shot of the land in the real estate listing. We have drawn upon the collective resources of the greater Modernist Australia community to bring you the images, description and historical provenance of a Chancellor and Patrick bayside beauty at the top of the endangered list.
With many thanks to Steven Coverdale at Mid-Century Domestic Architecture, the Chancellor & Patrick Architects FB Page, Simon Reeves of Built Heritage and Fiona Austin at the Beaumaris Modern FB Page for the photos.
“‘Elanora’. Designed by Ian Banner of Chancellor & Patrick Architects and built by LG & EC Scott for ER Ericksen circa 1959–61.
Principally designed by Ian Banner while working at C&PA with a project team including notable architects Sergei Halafoff, Hugh Flockart, and John Rouse. Sited to take full advantage of views towards Port Philip Bay and and originally designed as a three storey building with two bedrooms at level 1 and a bathroom, a bunk room and laundry at ground level, and living areas at level 2. This was modified for economic reasons beyond the sketch plans attached to a two storey design.. Not sure what the resultant floor plans became.The house featured brick piers, enclosing walls, and chimneys with planter boxes extending beyond the main house forms. Horizontal timber cladding was utilized to fill the voids along with expanses of glass opening to open corners. This composition was generated from a ‘pinwheeling’ type plan, with a defined sense of planimetric rotation.
Banner had a tendency to explore the defined definition between wall and window, closed forms and open corners. With brick walls that formed the main sense of enclosure and windows to connect and open the spaces.It’s understood that the expression of the house is fairly existant, including the original green painted timber boarding and white painted windows. The original dining room has been enclosed to form a study/bedroom.”
Sitting on a 1186 sqm block of primo beachside land and asking 1.2 million we hold the gravest of grave fears for this one. So, the bat signal is out – who desires not only a waterfront home on the glorious Mornington Penninsula, but also something with more substance than just another flashy mansion? Who’d relish the chance to reside within a rare example of the rich legacy of Australia’s architectural progression? Who has the integrity to know their needs match those this home provides for? Who does not pursue arbitrary attention and vulgarity, but rather integrity of place, space and the natural environment in which you are situated? Whoever you are, we are calling you now, please answer.