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Published: January 30 2018 – 2:19PM
Neil Clerehan was one of Melbourne’s abundant architectural figures. For added than 65 years he served his profession with the greatest acumen – and at the aforementioned time captivated and scandalised colleagues, audience and accompany as no added could. His career spanned barrio and words, with his above captivation actuality – consistently – the architectonics and affiliation of Melbourne. He admired both in according amount.
The third son of Rody Clerehan and Adelaide (nee Gibbons), Neil Clerehan was built-in on December 29, 1922. He was article of a phenomenon child: at the time, his mother was 45 years old and his ancestor was abreast retirement.
Neil was accomplished at St Patrick’s College, East Melbourne, and the daily tram ride from the ancestors home in Elwood to St Kilda Station fostered the boy’s adulation of houses and a allure for flats such as the Art Deco block Windermere, again actuality congenital in 1935.
For his 11th birthday, Neil asked for a cable to Australian Home Beautiful. His approaching appetite was sealed. His father, however, died the aforementioned year and his mother aloft two boys alone. Their brother John (born 1920) had alone lived one month.
Matriculating age-old 16, Clerehan enrolled in architectonics at Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT University), alone to accept his studies disconnected by war. As a abecedarian sapper at Gympie, Queensland, he met and became close accompany with addition architectonics student, Robin Boyd (1919-1971), whose studies had additionally been interrupted. Their paths beyond intermittently in postings in Australia and New Guinea.
Clerehan’s accomplished cartoon abilities helped accumulate him out of front-line activity and he formed as a artist until he was absolved with malaria in 1944. Resuming study, Clerehan anon transferred to the new amount affairs at the University of Melbourne area he reconnected with Robin Boyd.
Together they formed on the apprentice newsletter Smudges, which Clerehan edited from 1946 to 1949, and he was arch analysis abettor on Boyd’s 1947 book, Victorian Modern, the aboriginal history of avant-garde architectonics in Victoria. In 1946, Clerehan formed for affiliation artist Marcus Martin.
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With adolescent architectonics acceptance such as Kevin Borland and Peter McIntyre, Clerehan alternate in amusing and risque date revues.
He accelerating in 1950 and completed his aboriginal abode for Norman Barton in East Brighton in 1951. In 1952, Clerehan went across for two years.
Unusually for the time, he travelled to the United States rather than Britain or Europe. He formed as a apartment adviser for the United Nations in 1952 and rubbed amateur with architectural greats such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson and Paul Rudolph.
On abiding to Melbourne at the end of 1953, he resumed clandestine convenance and took over from Boyd as administrator of the RVIA Small Homes Service. He advised endless sample abode affairs and additionally The Age Dream Home (1954-5), a affirmation house in Surrey Hills visited by hundreds of Melburnians.
The houses that emerged from Clerehan’s alongside clandestine convenance over the abutting 50 years were absolutely modernist, planned for the accessibility of their owners, and backward in their advance of accessible plans, acceptable ceramics and alert aloofness from the street.
In 1954, Clerehan was alien to Sonia Cole at a affair hosted in South Yarra by her father, aerial ace and World War I and II hero Air Vice-Marshal A.T. “King” Cole. They affiliated the abutting year and anon began a family. Clerehan was appropriately appreciative of Sonia’s acceptability and accomplishment as a austere painter. Quiet and modest, she was the absolute antithesis to Neil’s affable charm.
In Australia, there has been no one who connected to address in the accepted columnist in the way that Clerehan did and for so long, for added than 60 years – from his account accessories in The Age for the Small Homes Service from 1954 until 1961 all the way through to his acerbic address about houses for auction in The Melbourne Account and Bayside Account which he alone stopped in the accomplished brace of years. Clerehan was able to recall, consistently with the brevity and abandoned humour of a Waugh or a Wilde, the acme and base of able and accepted aftertaste of alternating generations.
Clerehan was an important biographer on Australian architecture. His accessories for The Age, some of which had titles like “Wright fights bound site” and “French fantasy in ferro-concrete”, brought the assignment of all-embracing architects into Melbourne homes.
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His 1961 book, Best Australian Houses, still charcoal one of the best surveys of Australian calm architectonics of the backward 1950s – Clerehan could analyze architectonics arete with define precision. And in archetypal manner, he didn’t accommodate one of his own houses as one of the 20 featured but instead carefully included the Clerehan ancestors home in Fawkner Street, South Yarra in the advertisements area at the aback of the book, in an advertisement for the Stegbar Windowall.
Clerehan was a chiefly accomplished and bashful architect, abnormally of houses.
His own words in 1984 concisely summarise his access to architectonics and, typically, they reflect a position in affiliation to his abutting architectural acquaintance of the 1950s and 1960s: “Robin Boyd would authorize a affair and dramatise it in a design. I was and still am absorbed with active patterns, absolute and possible, and the architectonic announcement was and is to me alone a anatomy for those patterns. Therefore, I never produced arresting forms.”
As always, Clerehan was deferential, affable and elusive. His architectonics was about invisible, abbreviating in favour of a conversation, a view, a landscape, or artlessly as a calm accomplishments for accustomed living.
The able adjustment of collapsed walls, full-height windows that angled as doors, the chart of serene connected vistas aural and without, and calm, advised attic plans, with almost apparent akin and actual changes, all resulted in accommodating spaces, alternately aqueous and academic as accordance dictated. No one could architectonics a added affected bifold barn that was additionally so evidently convenient.
This was Clerehan’s accomplished art and it is this addition that marks him as one of the antecedents of Melbourne’s accurate fiber of postwar calm modernism.
Clerehan additionally admired talking about architects and architecture. Accompany admired his barbarous candour. He was a founding affiliate of the 20th Century Barrio Committee for the Civic Trust aback it formed in 1988 and was abnormally appreciative to be complex in the choice of Heide II (now Heide Museum of Avant-garde Art) for ancestry listing.
He had been complex years aback in that architectonics accepting the Victorian Architectonics Medal – a award-winning that his own assignment had accustomed not already but twice, with the Simon Abode at Mt Eliza that he advised aback in affiliation with Guilford Bell from 1962 to 1964 and the Fenner Abode in Domain Road, South Yarra of 1964, itself now a listed celebrated building.
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Clerehan’s adeptness in residential architectonics was additionally approved by Sydney-based project-house architect Pettit & Sevitt. Clerehan’s “3136” and “3631” abode types became two of the firm’s best acknowledged designs, accepting accolades from both profession and industry.
In 1980, Clerehan went into affiliation with David Cran (1946-96), who had been in the appointment back 1970. The close of Clerehan Cran completed houses in Victoria and NSW and bartering fitout assignment for longstanding audience the Bank of Melbourne and announcement bureau Ogilvy & Mather in Australia and south-east Asia.
Important beyond works included the mirror-glassed Corr & Corr acknowledged offices, William Street, Melbourne (1981, demolished) and the high-rise Police Credit Co-operative Building, La Trobe Street, Melbourne (1981).
In 1996, afterward Cran’s abortive death, Clerehan alternate to sole convenance and connected until his 90s, still designing accomplished houses. He clearly chock-full assignment aback the adapted artificial ashtray branch in Windsor he had bought with David Cran in 1985 was awash in 2016. His firm, Neil Clerehan Architects, was alone attenuated in June 2017.
Clerehan was consistently absorbed in the history of Australian architecture. He served absolutely on committees of the Celebrated Architectonics Council (later the Ancestry Council), the Civic Trust and as armchair of the Council for the Celebrated Environment. He additionally served on the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts and on boards of Try Youth Club and Odyssey House.
He was a athletic of his profession, confined as editor of the account Artist and admiral of the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, and 40 years ago was fabricated a activity fellow. In 2004, he was awarded the RAIA President’s Medal. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Architectonics by the University of Melbourne.
In added than 65 years, Clerehan’s abiding affection for architectonics did not waver. If there was anyone in Melbourne who has anytime able as a active civic abundance in architecture, it was Neil Clerehan.
Immensely appreciative of his family, who adored his aphotic wit and his accustomed adeptness to be a adapted centre of attention, Clerehan is survived by his wife Sonia and his accouchement Andrew, Victoria, Esther and David, and grandchildren Ella, Liza and Audrey.
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* Written in affiliation with the Clerehan ancestors and friends.
This adventure was begin at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/treasured-architect-of-citys-houses-20180130-h0qjbl.html
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