ArchitectureAU: Peter McIntyre Beaumaris house recommended for heritage listing

ArchitectureAU published the following article on 18 Jan 2019. Author: Linda Cheng 

Grant House by Peter McIntyre (1956). Image: Peter Wille/State Library of Victoria

The acting executive director of the Heritage Council of Victoria has recommended a mid-century modernist house designed by Peter McIntyre for inclusion on the state heritage register.

Grant House, located in the City of Bayside suburb of Beaumaris, is “architecturally significant as a notable example of an innovative solution to cost effective housing during the postwar period.”

The house is one of a series of eight designed by McIntyre that utilize the bowstring truss he designed with engineer Bill Irwin.

“The cost of a bowstring truss house was thirty per cent less than the cost of conventional houses,” the heritage report states. “The design included concrete slab floors at a time when most houses had timber floors, and bowstring trusses to provide open internal spaces which could be reconfigured with the insertion of non‐load-bearing walls.”

McIntyre developed a version of the design for the Small Homes Service, which was published in The Age in 1955.

“This latest [design] by a young architect aims at reducing framing costs and also leaving internal arrangements flexible to cater for changing family needs,” wrote Neil Clerehan, then-director of the Small Homes Service. “Each truss […] takes three hours to assemble.”

The Grant House, constructed in 1956, consists of two modules linked by a central wet area section containing the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Each module had four timber bowstring trusses. The house is described in the heritage report as the most intact example of the bowstring truss houses constructed in Victoria.

Architectural historian Philip Goad considers the bowstring truss series McIntyre’s most successful attempt at creating experimental housing.

The heritage report found Grant House has much in common with other notable examples of modernist residential architecture in Victoria, including Roy Grounds’s Hill Street House, Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street House, and Kevin Borland’s Rice House.

“All places, including the Grant House demonstrate innovative and experimental approaches to postwar Modernist design. They all pushed the boundaries of layout and design and were reconsidering how a family occupies a home. They all experimented with the use of new materials, or the innovative application of existing materials and technologies. They are all highly resolved.

“The Grant House is a notable example of innovative and experimental design on a modest scale.”

The house was listed for sale in September 2018 and was at risk of being sold to developers as the site did not have a local heritage overlay. The City of Bayside implemented a voluntary nomination process for protecting mid-century properties in Beaumaris and Black Rock in April 2018.