about /

This blog reflects the content of two books about domestic architecture in Australia from the 1950s through to the end of the millennium: ‘50/60/70 Iconic Australian Houses: three decades of domestic architecture’ and its just released companion ‘70/80/90 Iconic Australian Houses’. The story of the changes, influences and developments in architecture from the post-war period when Australia broadened its horizons and heralded a whole new approach, are covered in these volumes. In the Fifties a generation of young Australian architects, along with a number of recent European immigrants, turned for inspiration to the work of international names such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto and Mies van der Rohe, as well as to traditional Japanese principles. By re-interpreting, melding and adapting what they had come across, they created highly individual houses in often dramatic and hitherto inaccessible settings.

The rear of the house as seen through the grove of ancient palm trees shows the timber work and canvas panel sitting below the roof of corrugated copper. A ceramic bowl by Anders Ousback sits in front of the rammed earth wall.
Propelling architecture in Australia onto the world stage, in 1973, was the opening of The Sydney Opera House – a radical statement for a country prepared to declare its daring.  In the same year and in the same city, but with no fanfare whatsoever, another groundbreaking building was completed. With a wall of canvas and a ceiling described as ‘like two upturned rowing skulls,’ Richard Leplastrier’s Palm House was unlike any other in the country. Hidden from the street, it is as private as The Opera House is public, but its sense of place and sensitivity of design have helped make it an enduring favourite amongst architects both nationally and abroad.
The Palm House is one of fourteen significant houses that the book examines. Each chapter is the result of detailed interviews with both the architect and home owner (sometimes they are one and the same) and setting their insights and reminiscences within the broader architectural context. This group of architects looked to Le Corbusier, Kenzo Tange and Louis Kahn for influences and responded to the local mentorship of an earlier generation of Australian architects.
Each house study contains plans and an illustrated description of specific details associated with the architecture and interior design, focusing on such aspects as the furniture, fixtures and materials.
This blog uses the books as a jumping off point for additional information, opinion and news around the subject of iconic Australian Houses and allows me to update information and share with anyone who is interested in what I have discovered.
– Karen