Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105However, she also saw less benign sides to him: At that time in his life, Douglas was a worrier. He resented others who had lesser talents but higher positions. He felt he had to grope his way up by hiding the truth. As he got more successful, he became more relaxed and charming. I got the frustrated years in some ways, but it was also a very happy time. He had a romantic streak—I remember once he woke me up and showed me a piece of ribbon tied around my finger which I had to follow to find a gift. He used to bite his nails. He smoked like a chimney— Camels—very strong. He always had a bad cough; our friend Dr Ian Potts, tried to help him kill that. He liked wine—he drank a lot—and he liked to think he knew all about wines. The People reporter did not think that Douglas worried or bit his nails: A tall, slim man, Snelling moves gracefully, like a person who has been taught to walk with a book on his head. His long hands, moving deftly with pencil and ruler or gently fingering a model house, are creamy white. The nails are clean and cut perfectly square. He is a serene person who copes with daily frustrations with a sigh and a quiet determination to have his way. He sees every structure, from a simple chair to a major housing project, as a lasting advertisement of his talent. If he cannot please a client and still be true to his rigid beliefs on design, he refuses the contract. Before that article was published, Snelling and Nancy decided it was time to build their own house. They bought a block of land at 9 Coorabbin Road, Northbridge—steeply falling to the sandstone shoreline of Middle Harbour. She recalls that the property cost £1200 and was largely financed by her father’s estate. Despite that cash injection, the Snellings still needed a loan to build their dream home. Because banks then did not lend to women, the property was placed in Snelling’s name. However, Nancy claims that this arrangement proved costly for her when the couple divorced in the mid–1950s. She says that Snelling declined to refund her family’s contribution and he legally owned the site. This anecdote seems to support comments from Snelling’s later associates that he tended to exploit others. Snelling’s plan was to build the house himself, using carpentry skills from his Wanganui merchandising days, and employing sub– contractors. As noted in People: He has worked at most jobs related to architecture, from brick–carrying and carpentry to designing palatial homes and tall department stores. From 1949 to either 1955 or early 1956, the Snellings both worked hard to build the Northbridge house in as much spare time as they Hauslaib, modest home designs for North Curl Curl, Newport and Palm Beach,and the WO Hay house at St Ives (with a floor plan inspired by Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann house at Palm Springs). According to the 1950 People article: In domestic architecture, Snelling’s principles are briefly: lots of glass linking exterior with interior; drawing and dining rooms merged into one low, wide, handsome living area; no fussy details and no disguising of the elements of structure (one can see at a glance how the house was built); use of materials with regard to the true nature of those materials; large areas of built–in storage equipment. To tackle this workload, he was employing at least one, and probably more, associates in the tiny flat at Marlborough Hall— including young architect Peter MacCallum. To create enough space for the office to work, Nancy often was required to leave the apartment. People’s reporter explained the arrangements thus: Snelling and his blue–eyed brunette wife live in a tiny, two–room flat in Marlborough Hall, Elizabeth Bay. In the mornings, Snelling does his outdoor work while Nancy cleans the flat. After lunch, the flat is converted into an office for receiving clients ... [who] are shocked to find a bulky, old– fashioned three–piece lounge suite in his office. ‘It shocks me too,’ he says, ‘but it’s a furnished flat and that horror lounge suite has to stay. I have trained myself to ignore it. I can even sit in one of those chairs without getting depressed.’ Snelling has a fondness for striped bow ties and sports clothes. He works late over his board every night, smokes and drinks black coffee to keep awake. According to Nancy, Snelling realised that he would have to work hard to grasp his potentially successful future as an architect—and he understood that a key to his success was navigating society’s most fashionable and prosperous sectors. She said: He was very good friends with some of Sydney’s gourmets and bon vivants. He learned a lot from Carlos Zalapa, an older man who tried to look after him, getting him into clubs like the Australian Golf Club—we used to go there for New Year’s Eve—the American Club and the Automobile Club. Carlos was the Consul–General for Brazil and we often went to Mexican parties at his farm out in Castle Hill, which Douglas furnished. Later on, Douglas used to take cooking lessons from Tony Gemenis, in the kitchen of Pruniers restaurant in Double Bay. A group of us, like Ian and Judy Potts and Max and Valerie Sturzen and Ken and Pat Youdale, often used to meet in the back bar of Pruniers on Friday evenings. DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 48 49 1940–1955 1940–1955