For all our gushing adjectives and talk of rarity, today we present one of the truly singular homes of our Australian Modern architecture heritage; the sprawling, terraced-in-rock home that legendary architect Neville Gruzman designed for himself and family in 1958 (and extended in 1963 and the early 90s).
Gruzman House is an example visited by architecture students, fawned over by fans and described by Jørn Utzon as having ‘The best living room in Australia’. A masterpiece of timber, space, light and dark which most instantly prompts comparisons with Frank Lloyd Wright and (by extension) Edo period Japanese architecture, this compound of five bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms also comes with an additional four apartments as part of the deal.
Now, it wouldn’t be a first-class pedigree residence in our biggest city, asking a likely eight-figure price tag without having a tumultuous history. A difficult genius architect (Gruzman apparently going from one lawsuit to another during his entire career) which inevitably begets strong-willed descendants and relatives holding arguments over money, heritage concerns, upkeep and market movements.
Suffice it to say at this point, though nigh on famous and flagged for heritage protection for many years, this house has nothing of the sort. It remains completely in the hands of the open market.
We’d like to think that its architectural merit, its historical stature and landmark place in the minds of locals would keep it from destruction and/or some horrifying ‘renovation’, but nothing in this world is certain with the sales pitch (in traditionally grubby fashion) calling for among other things, a ‘visionary developer’, once again reminding us that for some people nothing is sacred.
As such, and though we feel rather impotent and tardy about it, we take the lead of Rebecca Hawcroft (AKA Othermoderns) and suggest to you all to submit a nomination to get this residence on the heritage register. It’s the very least we can do to hold onto such a magnificent Modernist architectural endeavour in our own backyard!
Run by Patricia Callan and Pete Bakacs, Modernist Australia is the passion-project/website dedicated to raising the profile of mid-century design and modernist principles in Australia. For more swell eye-candy, visit Modernistaustralia.com.