It seems strange that Robin Boyd’s book The Australian Ugliness should have such relevance more than 50 years after its publication, but here we are again dealing with the same issues. In an era where ugly has arguably become an industry fuelled by profit, too often we see architect designed mid-century homes destroyed and replaced with poorly designed boxes with little architectural merit.
These generic boxes are like tombstones that represent the destruction of another home, and too often the loss of yet another iconic architectural landmark. With increased frequency we read or hear stories of people mourning the loss of significant buildings that have been touchstones in our design history. Mid-century homes designed by Boyd, Chancellor and Patrick, Fooks, Holgar and Holgar, and many more, here one day and gone the next, and ironically in its place another high density ‘modernist inspired’ box.
The buildings that replace these architectural gems often purport to be modern, but are instead simply examples of what Boyd terms featurism. You’ve all seen the photos, open plan spaces with replica American mid-century furniture, an island bench in the kitchen and a faux Danish pendant light. A pastiche that is neither modern or inspiring.
Recently, we saw Boyd’s Blott House (see above) on the chopping block, but thankfully it was saved by mid-century enthusiasts who valued and understood the importance and qualities of this iconic home.
Well, here we are again. This time it’s the ‘Lind House’, an architectural treasure designed by Anatol Kagan, one of the best architects from the Melbourne mid-century movement. You can read all about the home in this wonderful article by our ever vigilant friends at modernistaustralia.com.
I have walked past the ‘Lind House’ many times, admiring its form and it’s gentle modernism. I have dreamt of winning lotto and moving in to this ‘dream home’. But alas, the developers are poised, and the house looks certain to be another casualty in a housing market that values profit over substance. It is astounding that such an important home should not be protected, but perhaps councils too often talk of revenue rather than rescue.
Whereas Boyd and other Australian mid-century architects had sought to create buildings that inspired new ways of living, it looks like the spectre of the ‘Australian Ugliness’ is now threatening to erase the very buildings that demonstrated that thoughtful and creative architecture is the key to a better future.
What can you do about this?
A developer is planning to replace Lind House with 8 dwellings. You can see the planning permit application details on the Glen Eira Council site. Lodge an objection today, you can do it here. I suggest you let the Glen Eira Council know that they have a role to play in protecting our design heritage. We also have a duty to protect the things we value, so please click on the link above and make an objection. Do your bit to save this important example of mid-century architecture.
If you care, please share this post to help raise awareness. Together we are many, and submitting an objection sends a clear message to the council. Let’s all try to save this truly magnificent mid-century home.