Friday, 23 May 2008

The McClune House is no longer for rent, but it is FOR SALE.

Further to my posting on the McClune House being available for long-term rental, I was surprised to get a call from Louise Wright (Baracco + Wright architects) advising it was on the market. The owner, Peter Mitrakas, has decided to sell.

The sale is being managed by Bennison Mackinnon, a name now synonymous with the sale (or, as in the case of Boyd II, the non-sale) of Boyd properties. It is certainly a wonderful property - one of my favourites. I was fortunate enough to visit the house when the original owner and client, Mr. Ian McClune, was still resident. Frankston South, however, may be a tricky location for the type of buyer interested in a Boyd, especially one interested in a weekender or investment (short or long-term rental) property . It's not quite a bush retreat (suburbia, albeit low density, has arrived), not quite a beach house and, at an hours plus drive from the CBD, not quite Melbourne. This may explain why the property is on the market - finding suitable tenants (an essential for a property like this) must be tough.

The house deserves a passionate owner occupier - perhaps one interested in boating and diving. The coastline adjacent to this strip of Frankston and Mt Eliza - Half Moon Bay, Canadian Bay, Pelican Point and Daveys bay - is superb and a favourite with friends of mine who enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling. The block itself is also huge and home to an array of rare, indigenous flora and flora. There's even a little creek running along the boundary (which, with recent rains, must be flowing). Like many of the sites Boyd built on, it's quite a special bush block.

You can check out the property listing here.

Go on. Buy it. Then join our little network and invite us around for a cuppa.

The Eltringham House (1968-9), 12 Marawa Place, Aranda, Recommended for ACT Heritage Listing

Image courtesy of:

Tim Reeves sent me a message this week to advise that the Eltringham House has been recommended for a heritage listing in the ACT. The full report can be read here.

The following is an extract from the report:

Statement About The Heritage Significance of the Place

"The house at 12 Marawa Place, Aranda, is significant is a well-preserved example of late 1960s residential architecture. The setting and the architecture combine to produce a building of integrity, illustrative of modern architecture. The house exhibits creative and artistic excellence in the Late Twentieth-Century Regional style, and is aesthetically significant for its freely composed simple shapes juxtaposed with fine detailing, all expressed in the textural and tactile qualities of natural materials. 12 Marawa Place, Aranda, exhibits the principal characteristics of modern residential architecture in a National Capital Development Commission ‘Radburn’ planned neighbourhood suburb, with its appropriate human scale and functional domestic planning. The house is also significant for its association with the housing of high-level public servants in Canberra.

As a design in the Late Twentieth-Century Regional style of architecture, the house is significant because it is the only example of Boyd’s work in this style in Canberra, and is the last of a small number of residences designed by Boyd in Canberra, one of Australia’s important architects. It is a good example of Boyd’s work, as identified by the RAIA. Robin Boyd was recognised for his contribution to architecture, awarded the Order of the British Empire – Commander (Civil) in 1971, the RAIA Gold Medal in 1997, made a Life Fellow of the RAIA and an Honorary Fellow of the AIA, and listed as one of 200 in ‘The People Who Made Australia Great’ in 1988. 12 Marawah Place, Aranda, has been acknowledged for many years as a distinctive example of architecture by professional bodies, and has been included in Boyd’s own publication about his work. It continues to fulfil its original purpose and its planning remains innovative and sound".

We’ll keep readers posted on the progress of the listing as the information comes to hand.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Reflections on the Sydney and Canberra Weekend

The Boyd Homes Group was launched in April 2007 by a handful of Boyd enthusiasts attempting to ignite and spread a passion for, and curiosity about, Robin Boyd’s residential works. The idea was to use the group format to educate owners around the importance of their buildings and encourage conservation.

The Sydney and Canberra Open Houses weekend, held on the 26th and 27th of April 2008, has demonstrated the fact that, more often, it is the owners who are educating the group. This has been an unexpected but rewarding feature of group activities.

A case in point: as the discussions about the Lyons House unfolded it became obvious that we were witnessing and participating in a very special event. Dr Lyons recalled, in some detail, his meetings with both Harry Seidler and Robin Boyd. He explained how, from a client’s perspective, he came to choose the consultative approach of Boyd over the top-down, ‘hero architect’ model of Seidler. He read from notes written in Boyd’s own hand.

Dr Lyons invited his friend, and builder of the Lyons house, Bob Ellis to speak. Mr Ellis recounted many details, including how the voids (air pockets) in the freshly poured cement for the swimming pool (and what a swimming pool!) were removed by a combination of the insertion of an especially narrow vibrator between the internal steel reinforcement bars and a rotary sander working the external surface of the formwork. This was a tricky job as the specified internal dimensions of the formwork were quite restricted and, coupled with the amount of reinforcement required, left him with very little room to play with. The result, however, is an an elegant and quite 'light', floating, concrete form. He explained the engineering and structural principles behind the pool that allowed the rest of the house to ‘hang’ of it.

To the uninitiated, these details may appear unimportant. But to those standing there scratching their heads, attempting to figure out why a concrete pool was suspended above the ground line and how the rest of the house hung off it, and what techniques were used forty odd years ago to achieve it, it was fascinating. The pool of the Lyon's House is Boyd's 'big idea' - the rest of the house (literally) hangs off this concept. Have these details been published before? Not that I am aware. Are these stories worthy of documentation? Absolutely.

Similar stories unfolded at the Manning Clark, Fenner and Verge Houses in Canberra. In the next few weeks we will attempt to collate and publish some reflections on the weekend as well as some images. If you attended the tour, and would like to contribute photos or observations, please feel free to leave a comment or email me

Image: Pre-blog postings - Bob Ellis' signs his handywork under the doormat, the Lyons House, 1967