We republish here the text of the petition proposed by architect Rory Toomey:
Gaden House 24-26 Bay Street in Double Bay, NSW is a unique modernist office building designed by Neville Gruzman and completed in 1968.
It is a largely intact example of Gruzman’s sophisticated output and is one of the finest surviving mid century modernist buildings in Sydney.
The building is the subject of current Development Application DA589/2017 and is under threat of being irrevocably changed and its significance erased.
We, the undersigned, believe this building to be an important surviving part of Sydney’s architectural history.
We believe the current proposal should be refused to protect Gaden House’s value as a rare example of 1960’s Sydney commercial architecture.
We believe an alternative approach to developing the site could preserve the building, restore its facades and interiors and enhance the building as an asset to both the owner and the community.
The advertising period ends this Wednesday January 10th. If you share our concerns about the proposal, please add your support to this petition.
We also urge you to email email@example.com referencing the DA number above and stating your objections to the proposed changes. You can also ask council to allow for additional time to review the proposal.
Image by David Moore from Philip Goad & Neville Gruzman, Gruzman, an architect and his city, pub 2006.
Gaden House in its original form featured many purpose designed elements that represent Gruzman’s architectural flair and celebrated talent for detailing.
- Bounded by public roads on three sides (N, E + W) each facade addresses its orientation perfectly by employing sunshading fins, vertical to the east and west and horizontal to the north. These give the building its distinctive form and complete each corner of the facade carefully, achieving a visually cohesive composition from every angle
- The internal cantilevered helical stair (still intact) is beautifully detailed featuring glass treads set in concrete frames; it allows light (from the circular skylight above) deep into the interior
- A custom glass sculpture by Michael Kitching commissioned for the project connected the stair and entrance lobby through a combination of vertical and horizontal installations. A new sculpture by a suitable artist, purpose designed for the space, would be an appropriate requirement of any approval to alter the building.
- The office ceiling system (since altered but able to be reinstated/restored), designed by Gruzman, integrated all mechanical ventilation and air distribution plus lighting within a visually cohesive array of circular apertures set within a square grid. This is an unusual and ingenious solution to services resolution in a building of this type with critical vertical set outs and concrete slab floor construction.
Gruzman’s significance to Sydney’s and Australia’s architectural history is described here by historian Philip Goad, from NG’s Obituary published in
Architecture Australia – July 2005 (Vol 94 No 4):
In the published histories of Australian architecture, Gruzman makes only a limited appearance. Robin Boyd and J. M. Freeland don’t mention him or his work. Jennifer Taylor discusses Gruzman only as a name among what could be loosely described as a Wrightian school in Sydney, and also in terms of the career of Glenn Murcutt. This is surprising but perhaps not unusual, as these histories track “movements” rather than the individualist architects who began their practices in earnest in the 1950s – architects like James Birrell, Peter Burns, Alex Jelinek, Stuart McIntosh, and, of course, Neville Gruzman. As a consequence, these architects sit outside any current architectural canon. At the same time, Gruzman and his works are well known. His houses were consistently published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Then there was a gap in exposure until 1983, when a commemorative exhibition devoted to Gruzman’s work was held at the RAIA NSW Chapter, and another retrospective in 1992 at the Rex Irwin Gallery in Sydney. These drew considerable and intense interest.