A panorama of
The architect for
Little is known about
Dorney. The Twentieth Century Architectural Study was amazed at
the diversity of ‘stylistic bandwagons that Dorney
is prepared to board.’ Chenier,
Many substantial changes were made to the
Built in 1933, Surrey Court’s architectural style is Old English: a picturesque, vernacular manner popularised in 1860s England, by fashionable architects Richard Norman Shaw (1819-72) and William Nesfield (1835-88), derived from Shaw’s understanding of the composition and elements of vernacular Medieval houses surviving then in the Weald of Sussex. There were tall, red brick chimneys, tile-hung wall-cladding, picturesque rooflines , and mullioned windows with leaded lights.
Shaw used the style for ample country houses, such as Leys Wood at Groombridge, in Sussex (1868-69), a fabulous house now sadly demolished, and Cragside, Northumberland (1870-85), surviving entirely. Influenced by the writing of John Ruskin, this style was a reaction against urbanisation and industrialisation, when after 1850, these inexorable forces changed European cities so radically. It was also an approach which suited a building complex built in stages, and to varying flat layouts.
In the twentieth century, this revival of
Medieval English domestic architecture was itself revived and hugely popularised
for more middle-class owners, In England, this began
with the building of the chocolate magnate Cadbury family’s employee and
community housing at Bournville in
There was also pervasive influence from the
Californian post-Depression ‘half-timbered English’ domestic style, derived from
the homes of the stars, in
Soon after, even in remote Melbourne: Toorak Road shops, Whitehorse Road, Balwyn Road shops, pubs such as the Riverside Inn, on the river at Punt Road (designed by R.H. McIntyre, architect of the Prince of Wales, St Kilda, and now demolished) and rambling blocks of flats, such as fabulous Denby Dale, 424 Glenferrie Road, Malvern (Robert Hamilton and Marcus Norris, 1938), perhaps the finest in Melbourne, and other great houses here such as Westford, 2 Ash Grove, Malvern (A.H. Fisher, 1890; one of the earliest Old English buildings in Australia).
In St Kilda, Old English was a fashionable and
romantic style for flats, from 1919-41: a cheery tonic after the rigours of the
Great War. The earliest, pioneering the style in
At Surrey Court, there are all the characteristics of the style: jettying first floors, diverse finishing materials (render, clinker brick, sandstone dressings), oriel windows, diamond leadlight glazing, jerkin-head gables, heavy barges, tile-hung window hoods, and the courtyard itself: all Medieval elements. Even window-boxes on corbels are shown on the drawings.
Although the theatrically romantic layout at
Plaisted’s cause celebre came when precocious Melbourne University Architecture Atelier student, Robin Boyd (46), writing in the influential student periodical, Smudges, fired with an excess of Modernist zeal, awarded Plaisted’s Castle Towers, Marne Street, South Yarra, the ‘Blot of the Month’, and Plaisted responded sharply, slapping a legal writ on the young Boyd. The forces of historicism were fighting Modernism back.
Ironically, towards the end of his life, Boyd
began to embrace as Post-Modernist, such pastiche historicism as the Old
Melbourne Motor Inn,
Peck, Robert. von Hartel. Trethowan & Henshall Hansen Associates. City of St Kilda Twentieth Century Architectural Study. St Kilda. May 1992. (Unpaginated).
‘A Question of Style. Inter-War
Domestic Architecture in
Residential Flats in
‘Significant Flats in
St Kilda City
Council permits no. 8290, issued