‘Jacobs House’ 36 Cleveland St, Wahroonga NSW

A damn fine second Sydney School example now, an offering from one of the headmasters therof  – a 1963 Russell Jack designed, award winning home in near mint condish, which (from all feet on-ground reports) is sooooo extra-extra, more than the newer sale pics convey. Not surprising. Apparently the client, Supreme Court Justice Jacobs, desired a tranquil retreat from his day-on-the-bench-grind, with a certain degree of sophistication. This goal achieved with aplomb by the architect utilising his trademark raw materials anchoring this residence directly to the earth yet constructed with the considered and sleek Modernist spatial configuration, including internal courtyard. Ooooh yes. 

‘Pettit & Sevitt Mark V’ 20 Campbell Dve, Wahroonga NSW

Project homes have long been a staple for us and what was a long marginalised subset of the Australian Modernist story – the pre-designed experiment by renowned Australian architects each attempting their own variety of better home design, better suburb planning and an optimistic new way of living – is now clawing back the esteem it deserves. None more so than the output of 1960s into 1970s firm Pettit and Sevitt, who not only now have a fan club of dedicated owners/restorers but is back in business recapturing this spirit of high Modern design with grounded attitude for a new generation (can we now just all pretend the 1980s and 1990s volume building didn’t happen?).
But let’s get down to it, this particularly beautiful building and a more stunning Pettit & Sevitt home we can heartily claim we have never seen. Those familiar will spot the usual P&S hallmarks; cedar beams, painted white brick and passage-less flow of living spaces however the ‘Mark V’ is the design opus, a P&S offering by way of revered architect Ken Woolley presented to any lucky purchaser as the highest-end option on their books; the most rooms, the most expensive and pure boldness in its 2-storey floor plan. As a result only few were so brave and of the limited figure ever actually built it is suggested that a mere 15 examples of varying quality and originality remain standing throughout the country. This listing, dear Modernist Australian, is what they call a unicorn. Rare, intact, hiding in plain sight on in its glorious bushland address as if it was still 1967, the year of it’s construction. As Home Beautiful stated at the time:

‘If this house was designed as a “one-off” custom built house as an architect’s private commission it would take its place among Australia’s best”

Superseding the throwaway tag of ‘project home’ this expansive and singularly gorgeous residence stands today as a sentinel in architectural expression, daring optimism and collective experimentation – concepts which we still need as desperately today as we did back then. All goodwill and envy to the eventual new owner, what an astounding place for anyone to call home.

All images courtesy of Modern House real estate.

7 Wyeena Cl, Wahroonga NSW

We toss the words ‘elegant’ and ‘beautiful’ fairly liberally around these parts, but if any residence we’ve shown lately deserves the description then this is it. A heart-thumping (c.1951?) slice of leafy green in the ye olde Modernist enclave of Wahroona (just around the way from Rose Seidler  and Rippon House) this home of same ownership for 66 years needs a new lover. Word around the traps (thanks Steven Coverdale) is that this home does indeed have a heritage overlay (you know where you can shove your S.T.C.A thanks) but also due to a prior application it may be a little unresolved at council and so the threat of demolition still looms (nooooooooooooo!). We cannot allow this to happen and if people need to have their hand held and be schooled on the desirability of such a residence then of course we’ll do it but really, for this one, we shouldn’t have to.

*PS this home was designed by non-architect Dr David Rich, so there you go!

20 Morris Ave, Wahroonga NSW

For posterity, sold late last year, an lovely Seidler just across the way from his folk’s place. Props to the owners for doing a nice refurb (and ripper garden) on this once very tired home, great reward for worthy effort.


14 Woolcott Ave, Wahroonga NSW

If you keep it toned down, making the most of your location’s natural flora, treed canopy and breezes, letting your residence be a frame rather than the focus, then the benefits (though unseen in plans, smarmy words and glossy advertisements) will flow, that is a MA guarantee. Here is the result. Gloriously unaffected, the non-statement that nonetheless clearly puts forward its occupant’s priorities and integrity.


5 Boyne Pl, Wahroonga NSW

As with that earlier rental in Kew, it seems some of the best examples of Australian Mod living are up for lease, not sale, and as such are kinda in reach of us mere mortals. This spectacular treehouse in the stately Sydney bush ‘burb of Wahroonga speaks of the dual occupations which sustain many of us in life; communing with the natural world and a deeper connection with others. If that deck/fireplace/bedroom doesn’t strike you with the vision of long, tea (or perhaps booze) soaked chats well into the morning/arvo/night taking in the birdsong and breeze, then we’ll go he. And that is surely one of the premier aims of a true Modernist living space.


8 Jordan Rd, Wahroonga NSW

As with yesterday’s house in the Melbourne bush ‘burbs this one in Sydney also maintains similar attributes – modest size, open spaces, high ceilings, massive windows, elevated to cover a sloping block and scenic surrounds. However this one is a more 70s variation with flawless brick and timber (again that ceiling – niiiice) and the charming natural warmth you’d expect from the closing wave of Modernism in this country. Lovely.


‘Rippon House’ Burns Rd, Wahroonga NSW

We have posted many fine examples of high Modernist Australian architecture over the years, but today we can certainly proclaim this one, the Rippon House (c.1969), in the bush suburbs of Sydney to be the most accomplished, the most immaculate, the most breathtaking and, dare we say, the most desirable we have ever put up.  We won’t waste your time with words (there is an enjoyable editorial in the listing at any rate) when you have these photos to cast your eyes over and bring you, weeping, to your knees. Lord have mercy.