50/60/70 ICONIC AUSTRALIAN HOUSES : THREE DECADES OF DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE
by Karen McCartney.
Mouthful of a book title, let’s just call it 50/60/70, but while we might want to skim over the majority of the title, there is not a single page of this book that should be skimmed over.
Post-war Australia; with the return of ex-servicemen and an influx of new immigrants, a number of which were great architects; saw itself under intense housing pressure and as noted in the book’s introduction economy won over architecture for the 40’s at least. But with the increasing prosperity that Australia began to experience in the 1950’s came new lifestyle desires, and opportunities, providing fuel for positive change in the Australian housing model.
The collection that this book represents highlights the influx of new thinking and ideas for living that were happening around the world at that time, but most importantly for me at least, what this book communicates through it’s excellent curation, writing and photography is how as a nation we took influences as diverse as Europe’s International Style (essentially a siteless model) and America’s organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright et al (essentially driven by and connected to site) and melded ideas from both to arrive at a uniquely Australian residential architecture. While this has not come to be the dominant face of the Australian suburban landscape it does still endure as an undercurrent with many young architects and aspirational clients working together to create humble, well crafted and innovative gems throughout our suburbs, and yes, including Perth!
The visual style of the book’s layout is calm and balanced. White space punctuates the flow through full spreads, detail series, and text to give moments for pause. The architectural photography, by Michael Wee, is aesthetically honed to reinforce the sense of calm and respite that are inherent in these exceptional projects. All houses are photographed in natural daylight, and we are constantly reminded through deliberate composition and juxtaposition that this is Australia; this is our bushland; this is our coastline; these are our suburbs.
And I can’t finish without mentioning the stunning feature of Iwan Iwanoff’s superb Kessel house in Diannella. Having been an obsessed admirer of Iwanoff’s work even before my uni days, and almost brought to tears when the Paganin house in Floreat burned down in late 2015, it made my heart jump when I first thumbed through this book and noticed the Kessel House. The feature captures both the exterior detailing Iwanoff was famous for, as well as the exquisite cabinetry and joinery all to Iwanoff’s design. Some of the best residential architecture Perth has ever had.
I would love to hear about what you’re reading and drawing inspiration from right now!