I’ve prepared a new house profile for another little known late twentieth century organic style house, this time in Aranda. The Andrews House was the first designed in Canberra by Laurie Virr in 1969 and is based on a triangular module.
The image here shows the kitchen module of the house, a sticking point during the approval process. When building approval was first sought, a permit was denied by the Department of the Interior on the grounds that the design ‘did not look like a house’. The Department’s resident architect was particularly troubled by the location of the kitchen: an internal module with no windows, but lit from above by a skylight. Kitchens must have external windows, it’s written in the tablets. Country Women’s Association guidelines, on which Departmental policy was based, stipulated that kitchens must have external windows to allow wives to have a pleasant outlook while preparing meals and washing the dishes. Depending on one’s outlook, that’s either quaint, hilarious or infuriating. Nonetheless, approval was ultimately given and the house went ahead as per plan.
The conservatism of the Department of the Interior during the 1960s made life very difficult for architects trying to do something a bit different, or that didn’t match the narrow template laid down by government. It forced some of them out of Canberra and curtailed the careers of others.
The Andrews House is in original condition and still occupied by the client 40 years after construction. The house is next door to Enrico Taglietti’s Paterson House, arguably his most important residential work. An interesting side note: the commission for 7 Juad Place was originally offered to Laurie Virr, but the Patersons changed their mind and went with Enrico Taglietti. The end result is two fine, original mid-century organic houses next to each other in a bushland setting.