Beaumaris Honeycomb House demolished, Robin Boyd original under threat in Balwyn North

Author: Jayitri Smiles. Published in the Herald Sun & Real on 21 August 2020. 

12 Oak Street Beaumaris was demolished on 17 August 2020. Image: Herald Sun

A mid-century Bayside house with a one-of-a-kind design has been demolished, while an early work of renowned architect Robin Boyd is under threat in Balwyn North.

Heritage protection for modernist architecture has been flung into the spotlight once again this week, after a hexagonal property affectionately known as the Honeycomb House was knocked down at 12 Oak Street, Beaumaris.

Beaumaris Modern president Fiona Austin said it was disappointing to see the 1950s property torn down after it had been recommended for heritage listing in two unfinished Bayside City Council studies.

12 Oak Street Beaumaris was demolished on 17 August 2020. Image: Herald Sun

“The studies were abandoned and it’s just missed out on a heritage study that Bayside Council have recently committed to,” Ms Austin said.

“It was kind of a special house because it was designed on a hexagon, so it was very experimental and unusual.”

Ms Austin said the W H Dando creation had not been maintained over the years, so it looked “like a bit of a wreck from the outside”, despite having very solid interiors.

The property could have been restored, architecture advocates say.
An Home Beautiful illustration of the home’s interiors. Picture: Beaumaris Modern

“Once I got inside I was blown away with how good the condition was,” Ms Austin said.

“It was made from timber, there was a wood burner in the kitchen and it was a really lovely house that could have been restored.”

The property was demolished by the homeowner, who did not put it up for sale despite Beaumaris Modern offering assistance to help find a buyer. It is not known what is planned for the block of land.

In Balwyn North, a Robin Boyd original at 12-14 Tannock Street was listed for sale as a development and subdivision opportunity last week.

12-14 Tannock Street, Balwyn North was an early work of architect Robin Boyd

But the late 1940s original was taken off the market after a petition seeking to protect the home amassed nearly 5000 signatures.

Boroondara Council director of city planning Shiran Wickramasinghe said “overwhelming community interest in its protection” led to a unanimous vote by councillors to submit an interim heritage protection application to Planning Minister Richard Wynne within the week.

Mr Wickramasinghe said no planning or demolition application had been lodged on the property, but community concerns had been raised after it was briefly put on the market.

12-14 Tannock Street, Balwyn North was an early work of architect Robin Boyd

“Once an interim heritage control is approved, any proposal to demolish the property is subject to council’s approval.”

A Balwyn conservation study from 2015 said the house was “one of three outstanding early and substantially intact houses by Robin Boyd in the study area, which, considered collectively, provide rare and valuable evidence of the innovation, boldness and fresh design approaches of a young architect on the cusp of an illustrious career.”