It’s always a pleasure when a home recognised with heritage listing pops up on our radar. This bush-baby stunner has been setting hearts afire over the weekend and with good cause, as the work of renowned Melbourne Mid-Century architect Charles Duncan. Duncan graduated RMIT in 1959 and worked within two other legendary firms; Chancellor & Patrick and McGlashan Everist before quickly striking out on his own in the early 60s from which he preceded to create his legacy of outstanding Modernist residences, not least this one, which won the Victorian Architecture Medal for the RAIA’s Best House Of The Year in 1965. Sitting snug in the bosom of Walter Burley Griffin’s pre-Canberra and Castlecrag planning dream – the Glenard Estate – the sloping landscaped grounds and residence we find here exude a textural, organic cosiness of materials dovetailing with the straight lines, spaces and levels of peak 1960s Modernist sophistication, an impeccably enticing combination all round.
We’ve been fascinated and enthralled this last fortnight by the confluence of themes which continually weave around MA; memory, history, family, housing, loss, decay and demolition with local artistry, in the form of The Omega Project. If you have not seen it in the news or (if you’re lucky enough) in real life – the work is ostensibly the ‘Jane Doe’ mural paintings from prominent street artist Rone creeping around the walls of a condemned house, the last Mid-Century (though not Modernist) residence in a large estate earmarked for overhaul. To be demolished next month, this temporary piece with the help of a set designer Carly Spooner is a dreamscape of those afore listed themes presented to wholly envelop the viewer in situ. Magical.
Jump to this listing, a regular for us really – a home not long for this world, a world kinda slipping away. That price tag? ppfffft! Call us cynical but no-one with that much money has a desire for MCM rehabilitation. This gorgeously designed, no doubt hipville in its heyday pad has really hit the skids. A faltering, paint flappin’ zombie. And yet those copper saucepans still hang brightly in order over the stove, the carved front door believes itself on the threshold of grandeur and we’re tempted to belt out a bit of Toccata and Fugue (Professor Fate style) on that organ so forlorn. And then we couldn’t help thinking about Omega Project and if the artist ever felt the need to make the project a series, we could keep him in houses for the foreseeable future. Rone, if you want to, there’s a house with an empty pool and a rambling garden waiting for you in Eaglemont.
The Omega Project at 28 Parkview Rd, Alphington is open for viewing daily, from noon to 5pm, until this Sunday the 30th July.
Like a Pointer Sisters hit, the 80s is all over this one and it appears very much of that time. Though, also like the Pointer Sisters, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The original 50s/60s elements still shine though here and those later upper storey additions could be superb, if only that slapped on white paint and tile was perhaps stripped off every surface. Such contemplations fuel hope that a far more thoughtful refurb could make this already wild residence, something worth jumping for.
We are overdue to list an apartment and what better way to kick off 2015 in this arena with a beautifully presented 3 bedder within a stunningly intact complex by dynamic duo Holgar and Holgar. You’d struggle to find the generous dimensions or this simple yet fully realised design in contemporary apartments these days, even in the high 6 figure price range, yet this seemed to be the norm 50 years ago, where did we go wrong? Of course the creative minds behind this one went on to splendid heights in the sphere of private and public commissions as we turned up last year. And, even in this more restrained building, we can see their signature flourishes which have thankfully withstood ‘development’ – those entry, sculptural concrete dividers oooh man!
A Modernist eagle sits astride it’s stonework garage and looks north. Straight as a die, blessed with light and hence warmth and an idiosyncratic (original ironwork-yes! marble fireplace-no! wallpaper-maybe!) yet fair update. Very impressive from the street it’s also exciting for us to see the word Modernism being bandied about more and more in real estate spiels.
We must apologise for being so late with this particular listing. But please now see in it’s glory, Fredrick Romberg‘s own home up for sale for only the second time. Inhabited by the Romberg family since it’s construction in 1941 till 2007 and since then brightened up, but not altered by, it’s second owners, this home is an important, early document of the influences and practise of one of Australia’s preeminent Modernists.
Chinese born, Swiss trained and German influenced, in keeping with a typical MA narrative, Romberg arrived in Australia in the late 1930s, and began to build on his philosophy of form and space within pure a Modernist position. In the early 50’s he joined fellow ground-breakers Robyn Boyd and Roy Grounds in their now famous firm and proceeded to carry out projects of unrivalled cultural and architectural reverence in Victoria and the country at large. After the less than amicable dissolving of this partnership Romberg continued his practise and moved into a professorship at the University of Newcastle, returning to Melbourne in his later years.
This particular home is naturally of elegant and quite european modern expression. It is clearly worthy of a dedicated Modernist Australian to inhabit it’s ageing, but thoughtfully concieved spaces, lest it is devoured by a McMansionite lacking in any cultural or historical knoweldege beyond ‘The Block’ but really, who could turn their back on this home’s wintery Melbourne romance?