Open House Melbourne – MA picks

Melbournians! Open House bears down like a runaway train and the city is ready to show her hidden treaures and frilly architectural undergarments to a curious throng. Here’s a tiny sampler of the choicest Modernst Australian-infused picks (though we’d be partial to pretty much anything on the building/exhibition/concert menu this year) and let’s hear a cheer for a highlight of the year – huzzah for Open House!

First up is wonderful heritage stalwartds Prof. Hannah Lewi and Philip Goad presenting a floor talk at football o’clock (2pm saturday arvo)  walking us through thier new book ‘Australia Modern: Architecture, Landscape & Design’ and also dovetailing exhibition (for free!) presently on at the Melbourne Uni School of Design, ‘Australia Modern: from the iconic to the everyday.’ Discussing the genesis of this book with associated histories, homes and (possibly juicy) anecdotes, you could not be in more genial and enlightening Modernist hands.

‘Australian Modern: From The Iconic to The Everyday’  – Floor talk Saturday 27 July 2pm. Exibition 22nd July – 30th August.

Next up, a trip to the movies with the Open House month-long program for a collection of interviews and archival material from some of the greats of Melbourne’s Modernist architecture story including, but not limited to Daryl Jackson, Graeme Gunn, Phyllis Murphy and a fresh new view hearing from one of the lesser name-checked architects, Dione McIntye. As stated;
“You are invited to a special screening of the 2019 Modern Melbourne extended interview with Dione McIntyre, a University of Melbourne architecture graduate in the early 1950s, accomplished Melbourne architect, and Peter McIntyre’s business and life partner.”

‘Modern Melbourne’, Thursday 25th July. Booking essential.

And now a subject close to our heart with the public viewing of a landmark apartment building which stands sentinel of what we call ‘Marvellous Migrant Melbourne Modernism’, Edgewater Towers in St Kilda (c.1961). Presiding over Mid-Century Melbourne’s bohemian beachfront, start of the bagel beltway and concentrated cluster of some of the most majestically designed and crafted residences in the nation. With its 13 shining storeys, this urbane tower is a burst of high-density sophistication unseen in this sleepy outpost until ushered in by our European diaspora with names like Mordechai Benshemesh, Harry Seidler and Neville Gruzman. Tres chic. Quelle Magnifique.

Edgewater Towers, St Kilda. Saturday 27 July 10am–4pm, with tours on the half hour. 

To finish, we go West where the future lies and the suburbs venture to the horizon. Here we have the council chambers for the City of Hobson’s Bay (c.1963) through which we see, in its optomistic, science-focused outlook in architectural form and engineering, a still utilised for original purpose building to this day. That is a rare feat for a local public building in an embryonic suburb at the time. 

Hobson’s Bay City Council Chambers. Open Saturday 27 July 10am–2pm. Self guided visits.

Skippy’s Home Sweet Home

Photo by Brett Patman at Lost Collective

A building block of our cultural psyche, the illusory Waratah Park and its super Modern headquarters which had been lying idle, slowly being reclaimed by Duffeys Forest forest, has caught a break this week. Otherwise known as the homebase for the Hammonds: Sonny, Dad, Mark, token girl Clancy and the main event  – erstwhile, crimefighter macropod Skippy, this building was centrepiece of many childhoods spent in front of the box, burning a subconscious imprint of low-slung, stone-walled Modernism into the mindseye of an entire generation of Australia. In actual fact only intended as a set, the indisputable Mid-Cenutry cool of this building never really left us, and now with the push from the local residents association and Aboriginal Land Council has recieved some starting dollars to get its rebirth as a pop-culture and Indigenous centre going! Think global act local – isn’t that right Skip? 

BTW to itch your Skippy nostalgia scratch we highly recommend the full movie –Skippy and The Intruders’ (1969). A warm-hued burst of 1960s Australiana; the clothes, the lingo, the eye-brow raising wrongness – a sunny, childhood heads of the coin to the Wake in Fright tails, if you will. Our fav moment? The16 min. mark melding hot tips for cooking abalone with some rather stange subtext about men and earrings – tee hee!

‘Nissen House’ 56 Cloris Ave, Beaumaris VIC

Sweeping the socials in the last day or so is this unmitigated triumph of preservation and restoration, totally worthy of celebration. The vision of local Beaumaris resident architect Barnard Hanmer for a Dr & Mrs Nissen who commissioned this dynamic home of daring split levels, soaring voids, built in furniture, planters and sensational ‘Besalite’ brickwork in the late 1950s and was completed in 1961. Rare and progressive back then, it made the pages of House and Garden magazine in 1963 who stated:

“Split level designing, open planning and high ceilings give unusual architectural interest to the home of Dr and Mrs Nissen in Beaumaris. Architect B.K Hamner designed a house that is distinctly apart from run-of-mill planning because that the way their clients wanted it.”

 And now in full restored and expanded bloom at the hands of appreciative and knowledgable owners, it once again makes waves having appeared in the recent Beaumaris Modern Book which featured some of the best MCM homes (still standing) the suburb has to offer. We cannot stress how much of a success this home is – already of esteemed architectural brilliance it has run the valley of developer death and come out not only saved but victorious at the other side and is now selling in a market much more receptive to such glorious Modernist dwellings (with no small thanks to readers like yourselves and owners like these). This residence is a showcase one for us Mod folk to enjoy as an excellent example of Australian architecture and for those yet uninitiated, to clearly see why we love it so. 

*Thanks to MCDA for the vintage image and Home Beautiful quote.

Robin Boyd – A Centenary of Design

It would be very remiss of us to not remind you all about the entire year of celebratory events the Robin Boyd Foundation has locked and loaded in for 2019. In celebration and homage for Australian architecture’s largest luminaries, in what would be his 100th year (if he hadn’t exited the building far too early) this long-play birthday party includes everything from house tours, topic expert speakers, exhibitions, films nights, concerts, commemorative stamps (did you get yours?) and discussion panels (perhaps including a special guest appearance from us!).

Boyd’s enduring and expanding legacy is reflected in this program with a myriad of community partners coming onboard to help celebrate including Parks Victoria, The National Trust, Australian Institute of Architects (Vic), Melbourne and Monash Universities, The State Library and Open House Melbourne and in varied locations from ground zero at his Walsh Street house in South Yarra to Shepparton, Koroit to Sydney and Adelaide.

Over the coming months we’ll be cherry picking a few of these events to highlight in detail. But in the meantime, get over to the Boyd Foundation’s dedicated program page, peruse the offerings and book in before it’s sold out.

More runs on the board!

We’d like at this juncture to give a shout out to all those MCM home purchasers out there who spotted their new beloved on Modernist Australia and had the conviction, passion and (in some cases finance) to take it all the way. We love hearing your tales and knowing that we, all, as a collective of appreciators, are making a nice dent on the market and subsequent preservation culture of Australian Modernist and Mid-Century streetscapes.

We’ve already taken a bow over (and booked ourselves into) the astounding ‘Fender Residence’ which is set to enjoy a comeback on all the design and housey media henceforth (keep an eye out for the fancy mag spreads near you).

“We’ve been following the Modernist website for many years now, we actually found our home on your site – we’re forever thankful and love what you do.” – Katie, owner and restorer of ‘Fender House’

And speaking of pedigree Melbourne homes, another ripper has also been snapped up by an MA + Charles Duncan enthusiast, the gorgeous, virtually all original ‘Reade House’ – that’s some most excellent news right there!

“Hi, after seeing the Charles Duncan in Briar Hill on your FB pages I arranged to go with two friends to an open for fun and viewing pleasure……..Thrilled to let you know that one of my friends (who adores her leased Charles Duncan) is buying the one in Briar Hill and not changing a thing, thank you, another one saved and in adoring hands” – Caroline, MCM trooper.

 

Next up is one which set hearts afire just this past month gone and we know there will be a bunch of jealous peep out there, but nonetheless Northumberland Rd in Pascoe Vale is now off the market and in very safe Australian Modernist hands.

“Thanks to this page – we will now own this incredible home! We weren’t even in the market for a new home, but when this original beauty was posted- and being in such a great family friendly location, we had to have a look! Then one by one we fell like dominos for this house- first my husband and I, then our kids and every single family member since. We are looking to retain the home largely as is- as it’s even more breathtaking in reality. The original owners are looking to pass on the original history of the home along with some of the artwork and furniture to us. It’s an absolute dream come true- we never thought we’d own an original mid century home. After being married in at the Robin Boyd Welsh St house and honeymooning in Palm Springs- it will be in good hands with long time mid century fans” – Nicky.
 
 

Now time to hear form a seller, rather than buyer and for all you agents reading this – check out what beautiful MCM design, shown respect and duly celebrated can achieve- nothing short of an usually quick sale in the relatively remote regional town of Armidale, NSW.

“Thank you for listing our MCM house. It has sold in 6 weeks, in our small country town where the average sale period is 18 weeks, to a young Midcentury aficionado for a good price……..The sale video gained 11,000+ views on facebook for a house in a town with a population base of 26,000 people, so there is enthusiasm out there for modernist design.Your efforts bear fruit! Keep up the good work.” – Lyn
 
 
And really there is nothing more reassuring than contact from an owner of a home we felt for sure was a goner, such as this sculpture-like salute to Mid-Century beach ‘burb design dating from the early 1950s………
“I am the new owner of 9 Sydney Road, Warriewood – a house featured on your site. Wanted to let you know I was given the plans from the owners as a present when we bought the house. They were tendered in 1953 / 54. 
We are very happy with our purchase and while we do want to make some minor changes we will try and keep as much of the house similar to what it is now.” – Jo, owner by the beach
 
 
And finally, just sometimes all we need is the cheerful word from a neighbor with a keen eye……
“I enjoyed your post on 703 Stedman Cres. I live next door to it. Shes a real beauty. I can find out the architect from the new owners as they have all the records. Luckily the new owners love the old girl and her original features so I don’t expect any render!” – Alister.
 
Love it Alister!
Love it all to bits!

The Paganin House phoenix on ABC TV.

Everyone’s favourite architect ’bout town, Stuart Harrison, walks onto the box tomorrow night in a triumphant return of ABC’s Restoration Australia. Triumphant because he’ll be profiling the remarkable rebuild of Iwan Iwanoff’s masterpiece – Paganin House – which as many of us sadly recall was reduced to ashes back in 2015, while its proud owners were away on holiday. For all intents and purposes (and perhaps apart from the current fight to save the Sirius Building) this is the most dedicated effort to preserve a piece of Australian Modern history we’ve witnessed, a truly jaw-dropping effort of money, passion and grit.
So tell everyone you know from fellow MCM fans to all those interested in the usual commercial dreck of ‘renovation’ shows to the aspirational devotees of Grand Designs, for this one episode shall blow them all away. 

For those of you more inclined to imbibe their Australian Modern in the aural, rather than visual, fashion then click here for a 10 minute interview with Stuart Harrison and owner Tim Bult.

Restoration Australia (s.2), premiers tomorrow night, Sunday 17th March at 7.40pm. And will be available thereafter on iview for your viewing pleasure, at a time of your leisure. 

Another loss

Shattered we are this morning to see the report from Beaumaris, where one our absolute favourite, architect designed and immaculate houses we listed back in 2016 has been knocked over to make way for townhouses. See our original listing here.

 

To say nothing of those magnificent mature trees and landscaping.

All of the beautiful and lost artistry of joinery, tiles, fittings as well as the valuable timbers have not been retrieved.

All is rubbish. All is skipped and bound for the tip. And the more all damned we are for allowing a society to become so feckless and wasteful.

Chancellor House II- under demolition.

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.

‘Grant House’ 14 Pasadena Ave, Beaumaris, VIC

As we comfort ourselves with the news that one of Melbourne’s most original and worthy MCM homes has been saved via purchase on the open market, we sadly have to sound the sirens yet again. Just across the way from Boyd’s Bridgford House, sits this home by yet another long standing luminary Peter McIntyre, a commission for a Mr Alan and Barbara Grant c.1956. Made manifest by the true Modernist spirit and circumstances of its time, this residence was a one of McIntyre’s experimental responses to shortages of materials and expanding postwar housing demand. Its simple layout of living and sleeping zones coupled with renegade construction techniques of flexible, non-load bearing walls topped with a marvelous bow-truss ceiling had the needs of low-cost, mass-production potential in mind whilst thoroughly speaking to the new, casualised Australian way of life. The essentially original and tidy condition of this home is almost unreal for the suburb and it’s strikes the heart with a hard pang to know, once again, there is nothing planning-wise in place for this home to protect it from the bulldozer. Indeed word on the street is (at present) only developers have shown an interest in this wonderful, historical property with all of the worst intentions that implies. So we make the call. There is so much this home could be whilst remaining intact. There is room for a freshen up, a sympathetic refurb and possibly even extension with the right professionals at the helm. Anything is on the table to keep this home upright with integrity intact. Such a testament to our build heritage and its architect, one of the last MCM legends we still have with us, is worth considering. Share this one far and wide people.

Lind House win and some losses

A quick post today to acknowledge the great win for MCM heritage in Melbourne by the adding of Anatol Kagan’s Lind House to the Victorian Heritage Register. This was due to the City of Glen Eira not taking a previous Heritage Victoria recommendation to not place it on the register lying down. No siree! The council in a simply unheard of move decide to submit their case contrary this assessment to the Heritage Council of Victoria and with the masterful work of legit Modernist Australian hero Simon Reeves (Kagan know-it-all and consultant-cum-savior of so many MCM homes gone before) won the day!
Now not to take away form this giant killing win by these civic Davids (Glen Eira Council also take a bow!) but we must stress that you, dear reader, have played a major part in this victory too. For we see every other day homes of similar value to this one turning into dust (as per below), a major difference in the Lind House situation was publicity. This house and its imminent demise were broadcast far and wide across all channels: papers, magazines, the radio, blogs and Facebook pages aplenty and without this groundswell we wonder if the council may have been on board to save this slice of MCM housing with such gusto.
Suffice to say it steels our resolve to get it out there, to share and share alike, to kick up a stink to point out that which deserves to remain standing. We think we all should learn from this and live by the quote on diligence from The Shawshank Redemption “From now on we’re gonna write two letters a week, instead of one”

Now back to reality with the other kind of acknowledgement. The sad kind. The one which boils blood and whacks us (as stick not carrot) into action. We had notification last week from reader Carl that the wondrous Star-Warzian battlement of ‘Gandolfo House’ (Architect David Godsell c.1975) which was sold last year has been razed. We have no doubt that whatever wedding cake island of vulgar mediocrity which replaces it will be a forgotten and pitiful footnote to the legend this little patch of Toorak land once held.

Adding to the tears was the demolition of another smaller Iwanoff home, we neglectfully did not post at the time. which sold for a measly 1.27 million and yet was still seemingly only good for land.

And a final heartbreak – a report from a good mate that his glorious childhood home in sunny Bracken Ridge, a house which excited a lot of fans far and wide has been virtually demolished. According to a local report the pool has been filled in (this is Brisbane we’re talking here, who the f*ck does that?) and the house all but knocked down. Some images to jog your memory. Vale.