Agents at Leisure:
Inspirational Architects of Melbourne
With a firm interest in architecture and the architects who have left their mark on Australia, Marshall White Director James Redfern explores the different styles and tastes throughout the Melbourne suburbs.
I’m interested in the effect architecture has on our lives. Every now and then we come across a building that has an emotional impact on us. In no particular order, here are some of those who I consider to be the most influential historical and contemporary architects of Melbourne:
John Beswicke was an architect responsible for designing a number of well known buildings in Melbourne, including many of our beautiful and iconic town halls, for example Stonnington Town Hall. He also designed many significant residential mansions, interspersed with distinctive design elements.
Perhaps his most notable residence was the one he designed as his own, ‘Rotha’. Beswicke’s homes and buildings continue to intrigue me, particularly this one. Built in 1887, the red brick house at 29 Harcourt Street in Hawthorn, is one of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria. He was a true pioneer and anticipated the Australian Queen Anne style of architecture before it was popularised here.
I first came across Beswicke’s properties about 30 years ago when I was getting to know the streets of Hawthorn and Camberwell, where there are numerous homes designed by him, particularly in Harcourt Street. I have sold a number of impressive John Beswicke designed houses in Toorak also.
Harold Desbrowe Annear
Harold Desbrowe Annear, a prominent architect who designed many of Melbourne’s classic family homes during the early 1900’s, was renowned for working in a variety of modern styles. He designed many iconic homes in the Arts and Crafts style, embracing open planning and extensive timber panelling. His designs were guided by the notions of ventilation, aspect, sunshine and views and I think that’s why his designs remain so relevant today.
I have had the pleasure of selling homes designed by Harold Desbrowe Annear in Toorak over the years. They are always beautifully built and thoughtfully laid out, with really functional floorplans.
Robin Boyd is still widely considered one of Australia’s most influential architects, who reimagined what a home could be. The home he designed for his own family in 1957 at 290 Walsh Street in South Yarra, which was sold by Marshall White some years ago, is his most well known work, renowned worldwide as an exemplar of modernist Australian architecture. The home continues to influence architectural thinking today and is now the Robin Boyd Foundation headquarters. His designs are practical and unadorned because he believed good architecture to be restrained, favouring simple and functional spaces.
The Domain Park Flats in South Yarra is one of his most visible works in Melbourne. The location, overlooking the Royal Botanic Gardens, set a precedent for park front, high rise housing blocks. In those days, off the plan purchasing was unheard of and the entire building had to be completed before being sold. The most coveted north west facing penthouse on the top level of the building was sold earlier this year, by my colleagues, Dean Gilbert and Mark Harris, for over $7 million, reflecting the ongoing influence and esteem of Robin Boyd’s work.
Christopher Doyle is often referred to as ‘the’ architect to Melbourne’s elite. With a strong connection to Toorak, Doyle focuses on a traditional approach. Much of his architecture is of a classical nature with an emphasis on symmetry.
I’ve sold a number of homes designed by Doyle and every one has been a representation of everything that’s great about living in Toorak. His designs have a glamourous allure, combining privacy with liveability and timeless design elements, so his works comfortably fit with the existing streetscape and look like they could have been there for 100 years.
Wayne Gillespie’s aim was to build classic yet modern homes with crisp, clean lines, designed for easy living. Focused on maximising light and space, simplicity was always at the forefront of his designs and his signature touch often included floor to ceiling glass. His designs were purposely restrained and sit in perfect harmony with the surrounding buildings.
Prolific and hardworking, Gillespie’s beautifully designed family homes and town houses are popular throughout the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. There is a strong and loyal following of Wayne Gillespie fans, including myself! I have sold many homes designed by Gillespie over the years and always enjoy them.
Rob Mills is an award winning architect associated with modern luxury and specialising in residential design. Many of his prominent works stand proudly throughout Toorak. His designs are rich and layered, with an affinity for organic materials that stand the test of time. He helps his clients source land and guides them towards a good position on the streetscape with the correct orientation for sunlight and fresh air.
I’ve known Rob for some time and I admire his work. He has worked with many of my clients, who all comment on his work ethic and passion for his craft. His designs are just so beautiful to look at, they are very functional and are always finished to the highest standard. If I were to build a new home, I would certainly contact Rob.
Melbourne based firm, b.e architecture are renowned for their contemporary family homes with a unique edge. Their extensive portfolio of refined residential architecture focuses on distilling timeless qualities, driven by the needs of the client. They place importance on materials and location, the designs are simple yet strong and respond appropriately to their surroundings.
I have worked with Broderick Ely numerous times over the years. He’s great to work with as he is a passionate, hardworking designer who works closely with his clients. People genuinely like him and enjoy working with him, which is so important.
Nic Bochsler of Bochsler & Partners, a firm based in Toorak, is well known for his cutting edge modern family homes, which were very popular throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. Bochsler’s designs feature extensive use of voids and changing volumes, expanses of glass and water features.
Every detail and aspect is carefully considered to maximise space, light and to capture the beauty of its surrounds. Modern functional family homes are his forte and his work really stands out.
There are many more architects that I want to talk about, so there will be more to come in the future.
About the Author
James Redfern, Marshall White Director
Renowned for his sense of integrity and sheer professionalism, James is one of the industry’s most innovative practitioners. As a director at Marshall White, he also heads-up our training program, passing on his accumulated knowledge to new generations of real estate practitioners.
View more about James here.