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Top Three Older Residential Buildings in Australia

The Land Down Under may be a relatively young country but it has a healthy respect for its heritage in the field of architecture. Many, if not most, of its older residential buildings are still in use and, in fact, many of them are considered cultural gems on the local and national levels.

Burnham Beeches 

Constructed from 1930to 1933, the Burnham Beeches was originally a rural retreat for Alfred Nicholas. Its ownership was transferred to the Nicholas Institute for Medical and Veterinary Research in 1955, but since the early 1980s, it has become a guest house. 


Harry Norris designed the building according to the Streamlined Moderne style with influence in terms of its ornamentation from the 1920s Jazz period. Today, Burnham Beeches is one of the rare examples of the Moderne style. 


The structure is well-known for the beauty of its cantilevered balconies, continuous windows, and wide spans, which were made possible by the use of advanced reinforced concrete technology at the time. The unusual streamlined appearance complements the building’s design analogy – a ship at sea.


Cairo Flats 

Designed by Best Overend of Taylor, Soilleuxand Overend, the Cairo Flats is a U-shaped block of bachelor flats with 20bed-sits and 8 single bed units. Overend envisioned it to be a collection of entirely functional and beautiful living units characterized by fold-down and built-in furniture as well as labour-saving devices.


As a result, the Cairo Flats is still one of the most sought-after accommodations because of their provision of maximum amenities contained within a minimum amount of space and available for minimum rent. The tenants have access to a communal dining room, lockable garages, and an in-house meal and laundry service, among other amenities.  Indeed, the building was recognized as a pioneering example of modernist programs in Australia.


Grounds House and Flats 

Sir Roy Grounds, among the foremost practitioners of modern architecture in Australia, originally designed the residential structure of the Grounds House and Flats as his family home. His design of a perfect square surrounded by a circular courtyard at its center was hailed as a study in pure geometry, which characterized most of his 1950s work. He created a house with an almost eastern character – the external windows consisted of highlight windows, the rooms focused on the internal courtyard, and the single central door with as striking large knocker, as well as persimmon and bamboo plants in the courtyard.


The main house has a series of four flats behind it, which are designed to allow for undercover parking of cars. These flats, however, don’t have the perfect geometry and oriental character of the Grounds residence but their distinctive features, such as small slatted balconies, angled car park walls, and double height main space more than make up it. 


During its construction, the Grounds residence was one of the more notable experiments in pure geometry as applied to architecture, which Sir Roy started in the 1930s. He won the Victorian Architecture Medal in 1954 for it, too.


Indeed, architects may be among the most forward-looking professionals in the world but many of the best also look back into the past and learn from it. After all, a few of the world’s wonders are architectural structures including the Parthenon at Athens, the Saint Basil Cathedral at MoscowFeature Articles, and the Coliseum at Rome.

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JL is an experienced freelance writer, Blogger, Mother and a graduate from the University of Chicago. Being able to write at her own time, JL has the leisure to spend time with her family.

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