Streets of Your Town

“That is modernism: a belief that good design can ignite our imaginations and catapult us forward.” – Tim Ross, Streets Of Your Town

As the only estate agency devoted to the promotion of Australian modernist and mid-century architecture, Modern House was excited to see the topic of modernist design brought to broader audience through the Streets Of Your Town two-part series aired on the ABC. Modern House exist to promote the value of good design; so to it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to relish in the architectural gems that were shared (some of which have been represented by Modern House) – as well as ponder the discussion that should inevitably ensue from a mini-series that sheds light on Australia’s plight as we migrate towards McMansionism.

Streets of Your Town saw broadcaster, comedian and Modernist enthusiast take us on a nostalgic walk through the streets of Austalian towns. His agenda was to shed light on the way Australian living has changed – from an embrace of good, affordable design, to one of McMansionism and excess. As he toured through Australia, visiting some of the greatest examples of modernist architecture this country has to offer, he explored the way modernist architecture existed to facilitate the way we live our lives; the sense of optimism and openness, the desire to bring the outside in, and the way of building a space informed by need and function.

Amongst the properties he visited were a number of homes that Modern House has had the privilege of representing.


Pettit + Sevitt’s Lowline B by Ken Woolley

On the program, Tim Ross championed the idea that good design should be accessible for all. Indeed, as Ken Woolley acknowledged this sentiment in his contribution to the Australian community of Lowline House B, and other houses: “It has been my greatest pleasure to design houses to a concept that enabled so many families to experience and grow in good design.”

When Modern House was representing this St Ives property in 2014, we attended a Sydney Living Museum focus tour of the property next door – Pettit + Sevitt’s Courtyard House. Ken Woolley was the star attraction of the tour, and gave a talk to an enthralled audience, one of whom was Tim Ross.  To our immense delight, following his talk, Ken Woolley guided the group of architecture enthusiasts next door to Lowline B, and was generous with his time as he talked about the unique history of this particular home. For this property – as is the Courtyard House – represented a pivotal moment in Australian architecture; when everyday Australians could understand, access and embrace good design that would facilitate and enrich their lifestyle.

Hollander House by David Hollander

Once in a while, as an agency, a house makes one pause and consider whether we should purchase it ourselves. Indeed, Hollander House was one such property – the drama, the asymmetry and the elliptical geometry – and we felt passionately that it must go into the right hands (even if that was our own). Ultimately, we decided not to purchase the property when we found the right property owners, and we were pleased to see, in Tim Ross’ filming of the home, that they have maintained the integrity of the design inside and out.



Thurlow House by Harry Seidler Architect

We were proud to have had a hand in preserving this Harry Seidler property, glimpsed at the very end of the mini-series. Nine out of ten enquirers on the two-bedroom home, situated on covetable land in Blakehurst, had a desire to knock it down and build a five-bedroom ‘McMansion’. It was with some small satisfaction that we diplomatically rejected these enquiries, and with immense pleasure that we sold the property to its current owners, who are painstakingly restoring the property to its former glory. We look forward releasing more details on this in the coming months.

“They shut it down, they pulled it down.” These words, sung by the Go-Betweens in the 1988 Streets of your Town song, seem prophetic in the light of the number of modern homes that have since been torn down or renovated beyond recognition. When Modern House represents a home of architectural merit, we do everything in our power to ensure that the property will pass into the hands of an owner who will respect, maintain and enhance the architectural integrity of the property. It is our fervent desire that home by home, we can protect and restore modernist architecture in Australia.

Photography from top:
Pettit + Sevitt’s Lowline B by Ken Woolley. Photo: © Michael Nicholson
Hollander House by David Hollander. Photo: © Jennifer Soo
Thurlow House by Harry Seidler Architect. Photo: © Michael Nicholson