Modernist Australia

Are You The Third-Ever Owner Of This 1970s Masterpiece?

When a real estate listing touts a property as ‘unlike any others on the market’, it’s reasonable to presume a little bit of hyperbole. But in the case of this late 70’s Australian modern classic in Glen Iris, it’s absolutely the truth!

Designed by prolific Australian architect Kevin Borland (the father of one of Australia’s most well-known contemporary photographers, Polly Borland), this wild and wonderful four-bedroom home has only had two owners over its four-decade life. Are you the next?

Patricia Callan

Photo – courtesy of Gary Peer.

Photo – courtesy of Gary Peer.

Photo – courtesy of Gary Peer.

Photo – courtesy of Gary Peer.

Photo – courtesy of Gary Peer.

Patricia Callan
3rd of March 2020

Gather round darlings and we’ll tell you a tale. Of a family called Crossman and their legacy paired with architect Kevin Borland, culminating in this just-listed wonder.

Successful in enterprise and with an eye for a lauded name (at this stage Borland had won accolades for his hand in The Harold Holt Memorial Pool and Preshill School among other noted projects), the Crossmans hired the architect to design a mini-village of unusual holiday apartments in Launching Place in the early 70s, which subsequently took out the RAIA Housing Award in 1974’s Victorian Architecture Awards.

They kept the momentum up with their next desire – a new family home in Glen Iris. It had an unusual start in 1976, on a fire sale block with an existing rectangular slab already poured and swimming pool half dug – the administrative remnants of a builder gone bust. The brief was brief, and relied on the close knowledge a trusted architect possesses of a friend/client’s world, in this case ‘a lifestyle that revolves around sun, swimming, entertaining, films, arts and their daughter’. For their part, the Crossmans let the master go with the simple words; “Give us the house you think we should have”.

This all-too-rare confluence of supreme design chops, a believing, financially liquid client and the trades which would follow (specifically the prowess of European craftsman; Rudi van Giffen and Andy Ernnerst) will always get magical results and in this case the best – a residence of pure dynamism and adventure. Using what was already there, Borland envisaged and made the rest; the soaring double story entry of glass walls with a ramp (in the place of stairs) curling in elevation. A spine-like galley kitchen in wild, era-trendy yellow leading off to various rooms and open plan living.

Breathtaking masonry, timberwork, tile, parquetry and evocative lighting all as unspoiled by the second owner (who bought the home in the 80s) as the originals. And we haven’t even started in on the dreamboat listing accoutrements more typical of homes in this bracket; luscious gardens (both internal and external), the poolside oasis outback, cellar and studio. All wonderful, but ultimately all taking a back seat to the sheer purity of space, light, and materials of such fine architecture and construction. Click away and be wowed. And wowed again. And wowed again…

With many thanks to the indomitable Simon Reeves and his research with biz Built Heritage. If you require a true MCM gumshoe, seasoned in the trenches of the contemporary heritage wars, then pay him a call. See in our Rolodex under ‘Heritage Consultants’.

View the listing here, and original Modernist Australia article here.

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

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