24 Arthur Circle, Forrest. 24-arthur-circle-feature

24 Arthur Circle, Forrest

24 Arthur Circle, Forrest was designed by Kenneth Oliphant in 1939. The house is a late example of the inter-war functionalist style with its asymmetrical massing, simple geometric shapes and roof concealed by parapet. Along with the house at 43 Melbourne Avenue, Forrest (1935), it was one of the first modern designs in Canberra and one of very few inter-war functionalist style houses designed by Oliphant.

By the early 1990s the house was in a poor state of repair. In 1995 it was sold and subsequently extensively modified. An additional building was added to the rear and the original brickwork rendered and painted.

Its significance has been markedly compromised by these alterations, particularly the rendering of the face brick, although a number of the elements peculiar to the inter-war functionalist style are still apparent.

Significance

24 Arthur Circle, Forrest is listed on the ACT Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture. It is regarded by the RAIA as a good example of the inter-war functionalist style, with most of that style’s features still visible despite the major modifications to the house.

Description

The original house was a single storey rectangular plan with two circular bay windows, one off the living room and one at the corner of the main bedroom. The living room had an open fireplace centrally located in the south wall constructed of small narrow bricks in the Art Deco style. The bay window of the living room still opens out to the east onto a curved porch formed by double glass doors and two large sidelight windows set under a curved flat concrete hooded roof. On the opposite side of this room to the west was the dining room.

A secondary bedroom next to the entry faced the street, sharing three symmetrical double hung windows with the main bedroom: two to the front bedroom and one to the main. The main bedroom was located at the north east end of the house. A semi-circular corner window with a radius of 1.5m is located under a curved flat concrete hooded roof. It protrudes from the corner of the room and originally had built-in window seats and under seat storage below.

The corner half circle glazing on the main bedroom bay window is an interesting play of volumes, with the curve essentially a half cylinder placed in the cubic mass of the house protruding from the facade. With its cantilevering concrete beams, this was a technically complex feature unusual in Canberra houses of the period.

The external form of the house is dominated by the asymmetrical massing of simple cubic shapes, typical of the inter-war functionalist style. Originally, the construction was of light toned face brickwork, showing the influence of Dutch modernist Willem Dudok. This was an important feature; sadly it is no longer visible.

Sources and further reading