Dreaming of Modern Homes

What is a modernist house that you would like to live in and why?

Easy comfort. Indoor-outdoor living. A sense of optimism. Just some of the features of the dream homes of the likes of Ian Innes, Director Heritage and Collections at Sydney Living Museums, Katelin Butler, Editor at Houses, Tim Ross, social commentator and mid-century architecture obsessive, Ben Gerstel, Architect and Vice President of the Australian Architecture Association and Karen McCartney, Editor, Author and Curator, of whom we asked the question: “What is a modernist house that you would like to live in and why?”

For most, just one home was not enough; the ‘dream home’ fantasy extended to two favourite modernist specimens. Join us as we loll in the luxury that fantasy affords, as we dream of a life lived in these iconic modern homes.

Beachcomber House by Nino Sydney, Faulconbridge, Blue Mountains, NSW. (1961) Photo: Nino Sydney

Ian Innes: A Beachcomber house by Nino Sydney or a Sunline Custom 9 by Geoffrey Lumsdaine

“One of Nino Sydney’s ultra-cool ‘Beachcomber’ houses facing a coastal estuary somewhere with a tropical garden would be pretty awesome. Designed in 1964, it still has laid-back and surprising sophistication and can easily be adapted for 21st century living. Like most houses of that time, it’s not that big but has an easy comfort from its casual living areas, large windows, elevated verandah that sits really well with me. Add a few bookcases, a J. T Kalmar molecule light pendant and some Scandinavian glassware and I would be happy.

“Sydney architect Geoffrey Lumsdaine designed a house I’ve liked since I was a kid as there were a couple in my street. It’s the Sunline Custom 9 and was once ubiquitous, but now – alas – getting knocked down all the time. Probably too modest for its own good, the Custom 9 picked up on some themes from the Californian architects Don Wexler and A. Quincey Jones – light, airy, informal, loose fit, able to be extended and adapted – seems really appropriate to our own times in place of those giant office-block sized houses that seem to be all the rage.”

Katelin Butler: Heidi II by McGlashan Everist or Neil Clerehan’s Second House

“My favourite piece of modernist architecture in Melbourne is Heide II by McGlashan Everist, commissioned by John and Sunday Reed in 1963. Now functioning as an art gallery, it is still clearly evident how wonderful this building must have been as a home – double-height volumes, large windows into walled, planted courtyards and strong visual connections between zones. It is a visual feast at every turn – compression then expansion, cosy then open-planned, light then dark. There is a clear definition between wall and opening – rather than a wall as a continuous skin.
“If I had to choose a home that was currently used as a residence, Neil Clerehan’s own home in Walsh Street, South Yarra is a modernist gem. Built in 1964, Neil and his family have lived here ever since. For The Forever House: Time-Honoured Australian Homes, a book that I edited in collaboration with Cameron Bruhn, I had the pleasure of working with photographer Alicia Taylor to rephotograph this house. From the street, this home sits discreetly – so discreetly, in fact, that you might pass it by without a second glance. This home is all about living patterns and the architecture almost recedes and is simply an elegant stage set for daily life to unfold.”

Clerehan’s Second House 90, Walsh Street, South Yarra

Wimbledon House by Richard Rogers. Photo: © Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

Tim Ross: Wimbledon House by Richard Rogers.

“I’ve not been in it but I like the idea of moving to London and moving into the Wimbledon House by Richard Rogers. Designed in the 1960s for his parents, it is bright and optimistic. Today, it is ridiculously contemporary which is always the shining light of modernism. If it was my house it would make me feel ridiculously grown up and would make me leave Sydney in a heartbeat.”

Ben Gerstel: House, 3 Maytone Avenue by Sydney Ancher or Gergely House at 109 Neerim Road, Castlecove, by Stephen Gergely

“Sydney Ancher created the indoor-outdoor relationship in the house he designed in Maytone Avenue, Killara. This house won the RAIA Sulman Award in 1945.

“I saw an amazing house by Stephen Gergely in Castlecove recently (circa 1965) and it was original except for the carpet. He maximised the site, the view was amazing and the planning really worked well.”

Karen McCartney: Living her dream in a Sydney School house by Bruce Rickard… or Schaffer Residence by John Lautner

“I hope it is not arrogant to say I love the house we live in – a Bruce Rickard Sydney School house built in 1967. It is a modest house, well orientated and built to last in materials that have only gained beauty with age. We know we are lucky to be here and it has enhanced our lives and the lives of our children who have grown up here.
“That said, I wouldn’t say no to the Lautner House featured in A Single Man.”

Still from the film A Single Man, set in Schaffer Residence by John Lautner