Great architecturally designed houses certainly date, like everything else. However, in time, they come to represent the best of that period, making them as relevant in the present as in the past. Ahead of their time, but also of their time, these homes still demand respect as much as attention.

1. Eric Nicholls

Location: Pleasant Road, Hawthorn

Designed in 1929 by architect Eric M. Nicholls, who worked in the Melbourne office of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney (responsible for the layout of Canberra), the low-slung bungalow has been carefully restored by architect and leading architectural academic Dr. Philip Goad. As well as restoring the interior, Goad has retained all the home’s original features including the chunky concrete columns that lead to the private courtyard/front entrance. A delightful sunroom was added to the rear in the ‘language’ of Nicholls, along with a contemporary freestanding wing that functions as an office and additional accommodation.

2. Zetland

Location: 16 Yarra Street, Hawthorn

Situated in the James Park Estate, this Victorian gem, circa 1874, was designed by architect William Ellis, who was also responsible for designing the Fitzroy Town Hall. One is immediately struck by the Victorian home’s rare seven-arched ornamental iron lacework verandah and balustrades, made even more pronounced by its elevated position on the site on bluestone foundations. This home typifies the style of house sought after by Melbourne’s prosperous middle class of the 1870s, and now in the league of the city’s well heeled.

3. Neil Clerehan

Location: 57 Wattle Road, Hawthorn

Set on a substantial allotment (over 1,000 square metres), this early 1980s house by the late architect Neil Clerehan has clearly stood the test of time. The modernist clean-lined home (Clerehan eschewed curvaceous lines) features bright red pillars framing the front door, along with free-standing red pillars on the rear terrace (a small concession to the Memphis style that was taking hold at that time). Fluid interior spaces, orientated to the light and garden (including a swimming pool) are a hallmark of the architect, along with bagged white-painted brick walls and granite floors.

4. Sol Sapir

Location: Glan Avon Road, Hawthorn

The late architect Sol Sapir is highly respected among his peers, designing many striking apartment buildings and homes in his illustrious career. One of Sapir’s most impressive creations was his own home, a stone’s throw from the Yarra River and adjacent to parkland. Designed in the 1970s and spread over a number of levels, the bagged brick home evokes the best of that period, with raked ceilings and tiled floors. As well as dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, there are highly orchestrated vistas celebrating the home’s unique location.

5. Robert Simeoni

Location: Myrtle Street, Hawthorn

This split-level home in Hawthorn is a short distance from the Yarra River. Spread over two levels, with basement car parking below (a third level), the restrained façade conceals a series of Japanese-style courtyard gardens. The ‘Bowral Blue’ bricks used to construct this home takes on a purplish hue in the late afternoon. And although few windows appear to the street, there are a series of voids that bring shafts of light to the centre of the home. Hit-and-miss bricks also create a muted effect in the interior. “There’s a deliberate sense of looking back on itself, rather than exposing everything at once,” says architect Robert Simeoni.

Text by Stephen Crafti
Images Robert Simeoni's Hawthorn house courtesy of Trevor Mein (photographer)

Images Robert Simeoni's Hawthorn house courtesy of Trevor Mein (photographer)

Images Robert Simeoni's Hawthorn house courtesy of Trevor Mein (photographer)


Images Robert Simeoni's Hawthorn house courtesy of Trevor Mein (photographer)

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