The award-winning Beachcomber

Architect for Lendlease, Nino Sydney, designed five homes for the first ‘Lend Lease Project Homes Village’ in Carlingford in 1961, with the ‘Beachcomber’ being the most distinctive, with its elevated rectangular lines. All five new homes were finalised, approved, built, landscaped and finished in less than five months. Over the next decade, Nino designed 70 homes for Lendlease, including four versions of the Beachcomber.

In the 1960s Beachcombers could be purchased for about $10 000, to be built on your own land. Since then their value in many locations has steadily climbed.
Helen Thurloe purchased a Beachcomber home in 1994: “It actually sits diagonally on the block, it’s not square to either of the streets, but it’s beautiful to be in because the aspect is to the east, overlooking a valley. Immediately we saw it, we thought of Harry Seidler, because we’d been to Rose Seidler House in Wahroonga. While it wasn’t actually designed by Seidler, both he and Nino brought the Bauhaus influence to Australia, as did several architects who came from Europe in the post-war years.”

Helen started the Beachcomber website in 2011 to help draw attention to the Beachcomber house, and from there it started to collect a community of fans. The website is dedicated to the history and preservation of Beachcomber homes, with over 50 years’ worth of images, marketing collateral, plans and stories.

The website recently won the National Trust Tours and Multimedia Heritage Award 2017. 

“It’s really very encouraging to see that mid-century houses are now being valued, especially as many projects recognised by the National Trust are from earlier historical periods. It’s great to see that there’s also value attached to Australian modernist architecture, with recognition that these homes need support to prevent their demolition and replacement,” Helen said.

Helen nominated the website for the award because she “wanted to draw a bit more attention to the Beachcomber because quite a lot of them are being pulled down now, especially as a few of them have been neglected over the years, and people are oblivious to their unique place in Australian architectural history. Also, many of them were built in what has since become prime real estate, so there is pressure to put more expensive (and larger) homes on that land.”

Helen said even though people these days might be looking for something more “flash” than the modest proportions of a 1960’s project home, the Beachcomber was built for longevity. “They were made out of really good materials – the ten Oregon beams that support the roof are striking; the full-height aluminium windows were, at the time, a new and expensive feature; and the light-fittings and the handles on the cupboards were designed by Nino himself. Happily, these days there’s a bit more interest in good quality design from the 1960s,” she said.

We have always believed in building a sustainable future because the decisions we make today, affect the lives of people tomorrow. That’s why we don’t just build a house, we build a home. 

For more information on Lendlease Communities, click here.