Mid-century architect’s former home auctioned after 30-year battle over heritage listing

A mid-century house designed by renowned architect Robin Boyd has long gone beneath the hammer in Melbourne, bringing to an close a many years-long struggle amongst its proprietors and Heritage Victoria.

The home at 664-666 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, in the city’s east marketed for $2.06 million — further than the vary of $1.8 to $2 million indicated by agents forward of the auction.

The a few-bedroom house on a 2,000-sq.-metre block is 1 of the earliest acknowledged modernist homes in Victoria, and was created and created just soon after Earth War II, just before a next phase was extra in 1951.

At the time of his loss of life in 1971, Boyd was deemed 1 of the most nicely-recognised architects in Australian historical past. 

A notable critic of Australian style and design, Boyd designed close to 100 houses across the country and was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in recognition of his assistance to architecture.

The Riversdale Street residence, constructed in 1947, was the first home Boyd built to live in personally with his spouse and children. 

Made for his individual own use, Boyd occupied and extended the residence around a time period of 12 yrs.(Equipped: Point out Library of Victoria)

Tony Isaacson, chair of the Robin Boyd Foundation, had mentioned he would be seeing the consequence of today’s auction keenly.

“It represented a form of reduced-price tag, confined-funds, experimental exploration of the strategies that [Boyd] was looking at in in the late 40s,” Mr Isaacson said.

Woodards actual estate agent David Gillham said he experienced fielded “a large quantity” of inquiries on the house.

The home was positioned on the Heritage Victoria register in the 1990s.

Any changes to the dwelling need a allow or permit exemption from Heritage Victoria, and potential buyers would be legally demanded to not allow it tumble into disrepair.

There are also constraints in excess of acquiring the property simply because of an easement working through it.

Mr Gillham said many “psyched youthful couples” ended up interested in finding up a dwelling of its significance, on a residence of its size, recognizing renovations would be wanted.

The profitable bidders at modern auction were being tight-lipped about their designs for the house.

An auctioneer in the foreground with attendees at an auction rugged up and standing on a lawn.
A group braved the chilly Melbourne day to observe the historic property go beneath the hammer.(ABC Information: Danielle Bonica)

Decades-extended battle between entrepreneurs and Heritage Victoria

Maria Rajendran bought the property in 1973, before it was extra to the Victorian Heritage Sign-up in 1991.

The transfer led to conflict about the several years, with courtroom battles more than variations the family members needed to make to the house, and repairs to sustain its heritage standing.

The house owners have unsuccessfully tried using a number of periods to eliminate the residence from the sign up, the previous ask for was refused by the Heritage Council of Victoria in May past yr.

A photo of a house from 1990.
A two storey addition, pictured on the left, was added by subsequent house owners in 1975.(Supplied: Victorian Heritage Databases)

In 2002, Ms Rajendran was quoted as declaring the extensive fight with authorities experienced “wrecked” her family.

“I’m not organized to make a museum of this house and that is what they want me to do. If the constructing is of this sort of point out and nationwide relevance then the state really should have it,” she mentioned.

Maria Rajendran died a number of years in the past. Her spouse and children has declined to remark to the ABC on the sale.

In a assertion, a spokesperson for Heritage Victoria explained the household was “unique amid Boyd-designed properties in that it was a house Boyd made for his own use and occupied and prolonged more than a interval of 12 yrs.”

“The household via its alteration demonstrates the architectural enhancement of Robin Boyd and is regarded as the prototype of the put up-war fashionable Victorian residence.”

The exterior of a brick house
The house’s exceptional however straightforward functions, as proven in this historic image, are what can make it significant.(Provided: State Library of Victoria/Peter Wille)

Mr Isaacson said unique attributes of this dwelling produced it important even while it was “not an elaborate property”.

“It truly is a composition of kinds and low-pitched roofs, broad eaves, very expressive use of quite easy supplies. Bag brickwork, basic timber, glazed windows. The windows are cranked down like eyebrows, which was an unusual sort of experiment … it kind drew you down to the garden and assisted connect the yard with the property.”

Future consumers deal with heavy restrictions on new progress

No-1 has lived at the property for several several years, so would-be customers have not been ready to walk inside of the property due to the fact of coverage concerns, even though there is general public liability insurance on the land.

Mr Isaacson has seen the household just lately and mentioned a cleanse-up would be needed in advance of it could be identified how considerably work necessary to be completed on the home.

The interior of a home, with bars separating the rooms
A historic picture reveals the house’s living home.(Provided: Condition Library of Victoria/Peter Wille)

“I am fairly assured that someone will purchase it that understands its importance and its price to the local community and to the state as a heritage location,” he reported.

“I am self-assured that Heritage Victoria will support sensible advancements and get the job done on the home and [understands] the household has to be habitable … I don’t believe the journey is any tougher than [with] any other household in Camberwell or town of Boroondara with a heritage overlay in excess of it.”

The Robin Boyd Basis owns and operates from the legendary Boyd property in Walsh Road, South Yarra, the architect’s second household he developed for his spouse and children.

Mr Isaacson said though the Basis thought of bidding right now, “we are not in the company of accumulating attributes” and that the Camberwell web site was not as well suited to becoming a household museum as Walsh St.

He said the sale would “characterize a milestone in the journey of this dwelling, and also, most likely, the conclusion of a infamous saga”.

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