Architecture Images-Sydney Architects
(1919-1971), born and educated in Melbourne, was a member of the famous
Australian family of artists and writers. He was a distinguished architect,
writer and social commentator and throughout the 1940s and 1950s was
Australia’s leading proponent of the modern movement. Boyd held a lifelong
interest in modern architecture tempered by regional concerns. His early
work employed structuralist solutions to overcome what he considered to be
the deficiencies of most housing of the period and he was a leading
practitioner of the post-war Melbourne regional style. The suburban house
was often the focus of Boyd’s efforts, both in design and writing, and he
enjoyed relatively few opportunities to design major buildings.
After the war, Boyd was articled to A and K Henderson in Melbourne and became active in architectural writing, editing the student newspaper Smudges. A short lived partnership followed with Kevin Pethebridge and Frank Bell (1945-1947), where he designed his first houses, including his own in Camberwell. He published Victorian Modern (1947), the first history of modern architecture in Victoria.
Boyd was the first Director of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Small Homes Service from 1947-1953 and from 1948 was the editor of this service for The Age newspaper, where he also wrote weekly articles. The service provided designs of inexpensive houses, which attempted to incorporate modern architectural aesthetics and functional planning and were sold to the public for a small fee. Boyd became a household name throughout Victoria as a result of this exposure. In 1952 he published Australia’s Homes, an influential study of modernist architecture in Australia. In 1953 he designed ‘The Peninsula’, perhaps Australia’s first project home.
Grounds, Romberg and Boyd
In 1953 Boyd, Frederick Romberg (1910-1992) and Roy Grounds (1905-1981) formed a partnership. The practice became a leading Melbourne architectural firm, where the three partners produced their own designs and sometimes shared supervision work when one of them was travelling. Although the original intention was to collaborate on commissions, they generally worked on their own designs within the partnership.
Boyd produced a series of remarkable ‘idea’ houses during this period, many quite adventurous in structure and form. His second house, at South Yarra (1957) had a draped catenary curved roof. He also continued his writing, becoming an international commentator on contemporary architecture. In 1956 he accepted an offer of a teaching position at MIT in Boston from Walter Gropius, a friend of Boyd’s and a Director at MIT. In 1960 Boyd published Australian Ugliness, a book on the built environment and Australian suburbs.
When Roy Grounds was awarded the commission to design the National Gallery of Victoria and Cultural Centre in 1959, relations between the partners became strained. Grounds left the partnership in 1962 and took the commission with him. Romberg and Boyd continued in partnership until Boyd’s unexpected death in 1971 at the age of 52.
Lectures, books and awards
In 1967 Boyd presented the ABC’s Boyer Lectures and in 1970 published Living in Australia, a book of his later work, including the house at 12 Marawa Place, Aranda. He was made a Life Fellow of the RAIA and was awarded the RAIA Gold Medal in 1969. The RAIA named its annual national domestic architecture award after him, the Robin Boyd Award.
Pettigrew House, 21 Redmond Street, Kew, VIC, 1946
Boyd House I, 666 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, VIC, 1946-47
Gillison House, Yarrbat Avenue and Kireep Road, Balwyn, VIC, 1951
Richardson House, 10 Blackfriers Close, Toorak, VIC, 1953-54
Foy House, 2 Deauville Street, Beaumaris, VIC, 1953
82 Molesworth Street, Kew, VIC, 1956
Boyd House II, 290 Walsh Street, South Yarra, VIC, 1957
Lloyd House, 2 Newbay Crescent, Brighton, VIC, 1958
Turner Industries Factory, Lilydale, VIC, 1958
Black Dolphin Motel, Merimbula, NSW, 1958-60
Domain Park Flats, Melbourne, VIC, 1959-62
Lyons House, Dolans Bay, Port Hacking, NSW, 1966-67
Featherstone House, 22 The Boulevard, Ivanhoe, VIC, 1967-69
Menzies College, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, 1967-70
Geoffrey Serle, Robin Boyd: A Life, Melbourne, 1995
Philip Goad, A Guide to Melbourne Architecture, Sydney, 1999
With special thanks to http://www.canberrahouse.com/index.html