17 Meredith Circuit, Kambah. Laurie Virr (1975) rivendell-post-feature

A new house profile — 17 Meredith Circuit, Kambah

I’ve developed a new profile for the house designed (and substantially built) by architect Laurie Virr at 17 Meredith Circuit, Kambah. The house is an energy efficient, complex geometric design from the mid 1970s and an outstanding example of the late twentieth century organic style of architecture.

While the house has been published in the United States and Europe, it is virtually unknown in Canberra. It is not listed on the Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture or the ACT Heritage Register. For whatever reason, it appears to have fallen outside the ‘official’ systems of architecture awards and heritage processes. It is probably not the only one.

The house is based on the idea of a hemicycle and a grid system, where the units have been shifted at 30 and 60 degrees. The arcuated form is anchored at either end by polygonal terminals, with a hexagonal central tower forming a mezzanine bedroom over the main living space. Such geometric designs from the mid-twentieth century are rare in Canberra—the only other sophisticated example being the house at 10 Gawler Crescent, Deakin, designed by Alex Jelinek in 1956.

The house is also an outstanding example of efficient small planning and solar design. It is a modest 123.32 square metres and is perfectly attuned to its environment, requiring little or no heating and cooling. In an age where so-called ‘sustainable architecture’ can mean 300 square metre dwellings aggressively dominating the streetscape, this house provides a somewhat humbling contrast.

Anyway, this fascinating house deserves to be more widely appreciated, certainly in its home town. I hope you enjoy reading the house profile.