Architecturally Historic House sells at Auction Despite Heritage Dispute

A Camberwell property designed by Robin Boyd has been sold at an auction for $2.06 million following on from heated debate between its former owners and Heritage Victoria.

The home is regarded as one of Victoria’s first modernist houses, reaching completion in the late 1940s. Located on Riversdale Road, Boyd lived in the house with his family for 12 years. Maria Rajendran purchased the property in 1973, and it was placed on the Victorian Heritage Register in 1991.

Following the heritage listing, Heritage Victoria and Rajendran were at loggerheads over alterations, additions and repairs to the home, which would often play out in court. The former owners tried to remove the house from the register multiple times, with the most recent request coming in May 2021.

“It represented a sort of low-cost, limited-budget, experimental exploration of the ideas that (Boyd) was considering in the late 40s,” Robin Boyd Foundation Chair Tony Isaacson tells the ABC.

“It’s a composition of forms and low-pitched roofs, wide eaves, quite expressive use of quite simple materials. Bag brickwork, simple timber, glazed windows. The windows are cranked down like eyebrows, which was an unusual sort of experiment. It sort of drew you down to the garden and helped connect the garden with the house.”

The house has remained vacant for sometime, with a cleanup needed before determining what work needs to be undertaken on the dwelling.

“I’m fairly confident that someone will buy it that understands its significance and its value to the community and to the state as a heritage place,” Isaacson says.

“I’m confident that Heritage Victoria will support sensible improvements and work on the house and the house has to be liveable. I don’t think the journey is any harder than any other house in Camberwell or the city of Boroondara with a heritage overlay over it.”

Isaacson hopes the sale of the home signals the end of the conflict between the home’s owners and Heritage Victoria. The new owners of the dwelling were reluctant to divulge details on their long-term plans for the house at the auction last month.


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