NSW: AAA Event - Exploring Modern Architecture

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On Sunday the 31st July, the AAA held a special event, titled ‘Exploring Modern Architecture’ which showcased outstanding examples of residential design in the garden suburb Castlecrag. Illustrating how ideas about modernity have evolved over time, tour participants explored three homes with their architects and owners explaining their history and design.

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The first house featured on the tour was Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s Fishwick House, which is the only two storey house the Griffins designed in Australia.

The other featured houses were a house next to the Fishwick House, known as the Maley House designed by Andre Porebski in 1973 and a major renovation to a 1960’s house by the architects Stanic Harding, completed in 2001. All three houses represent different periods in the history of Australian domestic architecture.

The earliest, Fishwick House, displayed advanced planning and ideas for its time - such as no hallways, an ensuite bathroom to the main bedroom, a roof terrace and a fish pond which acted as a skylight (though this was eventually removed).

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Continuing the modernist theme, the next house, the Maley House, was a wonderful contrast to the Fishwick House. It is a compact piece of modernist design, like a jewel box, designed in black and white. Whilst it appears a small house, it has a wonderful, spacious feeling inside enhanced by large areas of glazing and a split level design.

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The third house was a major renovation of a 1960’s house. The existing house did not receive much northern light and sunshine as it is located below street level and on the southern side of the Castlecrag peninsula. To resolve the lack of northern light and sunshine, the architects incorporated a northern courtyard and a 4 metre high openable window to pull northern light into the house. To maximise the courtyard, the kitchen also opens onto this external space. Like the Maley House, this house also had a wonderful and relaxed spacious feeling inside.

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Following the tour of the houses, participants were invited to return to Fishwick House where Andrew Kirk and Anne Watson (writer of ‘Visionaries In Suburbia: Griffin Houses in the Sydney Landscape’) launched the website Fishwick House: Walter Burley Griffin with much bravado!

Whilst enjoying food and drink tour attendees were entertained by a panel discussion with the architects, Andy Harding and Andre Porebski, along with Tone Wheeler and Tim Ross. The discussion focussed on topics like; What are the elements of good residential architecture? What can we learn from our architectural past and these three houses? And what can be learnt from careful consideration of outstanding buildings which would benefit the public in learning about good design?

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Tone Wheeler the AAA’s president was the MC who ran the lively discussion. As the only non-architect on the panel it was interesting to hear the perspective of the AAA’s new ambassador - comedian and commentator Tim Ross.

‘Exploring Modern Architecture’ was a very successful event with participants expressing how much they enjoyed the afternoon.

  • Article: Ben Gerstel
  • Image 1: Tour participants at Maley House designed by Andre Heyko-Porebski of Porebski Architects. Andre's son Alex Heyko-Porebski explains the design.
  • Images 2 & 3 (left to right): Exterior and Interior of Fishwick House designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. (Photographs provided by www.fishwickhouse.org)
  • Images 4, 5 & 6 (left to right): Architect Andre Heyko-Porebski, the eastern facade of Maley House and the Northern courtyard.
  • Images 7, 8 & 9 (left to right): Architect Andy Harding, Tour participants at the Newton House designed by Stanic Harding Architecture + Interiors.
  • Image 10: Andrew Kirk and Anne Watson (writer of ‘Visionaries In Suburbia: Griffin Houses in the Sydney Landscape’) launch the Fishwick House: Walter Burley Griffin website.
  • Image 11: Following the tour of the three homes a panel discussion was hosted at Fishwick House and featured (from left to right) Andy Harding, Andre Porebski, Tone Wheeler and Tim Ross. Tour participants enjoyed taking part in their discussion on modernity and their opinions on what constitutes good house design.
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens