Open House Melbourne | Cairo Flats / 25-26 Jul

yarralibs, Cairo Flats

Cairo Flats

Architect: Best Overend, 1936 and Architecture Architecture

North | N02

Cairo consists of a U-shaped block of 28 bachelor flats, comprising 20 bed-sits and eight single bed units. It was designed by the noted
architect, Best Overend of the architectural practice Taylor, Soilleux
and Overend, and built in 1936 by Blease Macpherson and Co.

Through his regular articles in The Argus newspaper, the Australian Home Beautiful and other magazines, Best Overend became the arch-publicist of modernism in the 1930s. Arguably no other built example better illustrates his ideas during this period than Cairo Flats.

Overend had worked in London with arch-modernist Wells Coates. On his return to Australia, he began writing on the minimum flat concept – an entirely functional living unit with built-in or fold-down furniture complete with labour saving devices. Cairo Flats was designed to illustrate these principles.

The flats sought a distinctive type of accommodation; the custom designed bachelor flat, providing maximum amenity in minimum space for minimum rent. The minimal flats were supported by a communal dining room, an in-house meal and laundry service and lockable garages.

Cairo established a major break with earlier types of flats in Australia. It is significant for introducing the flat to the modernist programme in Australia and for its acknowledgement of the existence of a new, modern way of living.

Need to Know

  • Open: Saturday 10am-1pm, Sunday 10am-1pm
  • What’s Open: The grounds, rooftop and Architecture Architecture’s recent renovation
  • Frequency Of Tours: Tours will run every 45 minutes with 10 people per tour. Queue at main entry point outside front gate.
  • Building Type: Residential
  • Tram Stops: Stop 13: Hanover St on route 96


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