• Site model for the Learmont house at Newport, AHB 1950.

Lot 36a Crescent Road, Newport, NSW, 1949

When this house was published in a
1950 Australian Home Beautiful article,
it was said to be under construction on a high hillside site at Newport,
commanding panoramic views of the ocean. However, there is no sign now of a
Snelling building at this address. The article claimed that Snelling designed the
Learmont residence to follow “the principles of organic design, which he
studied in America under the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright”:

In planning the foundations, Mr Snelling made full use of the natural features of the land. The house grips the ground on east and south and is supported on field stone walls to north and west with a steel beam across a large garage opening beneath. The living room chimney is a built up extension of the stone wall foundation.

The total allowable internal floor area of 1,250 sq ft (116 sq m) was extended by several outdoor zones: the sundeck, a porch off the main bedroom, and a flagstone terrace beyond. On the lower (carport) level, a darkroom, workshop and laundry were provided. Construction materials were timber, waterproof plywood, glass and bitumen roofing. Wooden roof trusses, spaced at 6-ft-2-in centres, allowed economical infilling of plywood ceiling sheets. Timber flooring was proposed throughout, with interior walls and storage to be portable. The Home Beautiful article included Snelling’s perspective drawings of the stone fireplace and its ‘cozy’ alcove, a bedroom storage wall and desk, and hinged plywood ventilation flaps above windows fitted with low bookshelving.

On the plans, one large bedroom led to a sitting room that opened to a southeast terrace, a smaller bedroom, one bathroom and a separate shower room. The living-dining-kitchen-study zone occupied 60 percent of the main floor level, facing northeast. Perhaps this house was the Snelling project cited in Donald Leslie Johnson’s 1980 book, Australian Architecture 1901–1951:

In 1949–50, Douglas Snelling designed a house for Newport, New South Wales, looking like Southern California modern, in particular the Gordon Drake modular designs and some Frank Lloyd Wright influence, especially in the flow of the plan. Snelling studied under Wright [sic] but he was not, if this design was an indication, wholly converted to the Wrightian forms of the 1940s. A design blend was skillfully developed in the Newport house.

Sources

—Johnson, Donald Leslie. 1980. Sources of Modernism: Australian Architecture 1901–51. Sydney: Sydney University Press, p. 204.

—Sydney: SLNSW PICMAN Archive, PXD 874, architectural drawings by Peter MacCallum.

—Wentworth, John. 1950. ‘Beach house offers less housework – better views’, The Australian Home Beautiful,  February, pp. 36–7, 49.