Rice House Kevin Borland
Ph: J Ware, 2010

Site Overview

site name:
Rice House
Kevin Borland
date of completion:
69 Ryans Rd, Eltham, VIC
Technical Innovation (UNC)
protection status:
– Victorian Heritage Register (H0123).
– National Trust of Australia Heritage Register Victoria (B7355)


Kevin Borland’s second commission, although his first completed house, was the structurally and formally inventive Rice house in Eltham, designed for Harrie and Lorna Rice. In its completed form, the house comprised two rectangular blocks each composed of multiple transverse thin-shelled concrete arches. The two blocks were originally linked by an unbelievably light and fragile concrete and steel covered way that eventually failed structurally and collapsed spectacularly. The house was constructed utilizing a unique thin shell concrete structural system developed in the U K by the engineer J H de Waller and licensed in Australia to the builders McDougall and Ireland. Excited by the formal possibilities the clients agreed with their architect that their house should be designed utilizing this method of construction. The unusual appearance of the house made bank finance initially difficult to obtain and the combination of unusual structure and inexperienced clients and architect extended the time and cost of completion. The built outcome, however, remains a significant icon of the modernist architectural ideals and optimism of the early post-war period.

Text adapted from an entry by Doug Evans in Australia Modern: Architecture, Landscape and Design 1925-1975 (2019, Thames and Hudson).

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