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John & Phyllis Murphy 1954 house - Camperdown

Hi Folks

I own (and am reluctantly selling) my John and Phyllis Murphy designed house in Camperdown, in Victoria's western volcanic plains. It was designed in 1954 and built in 1957. Consultants have described it as 'post WWII Modern'. It's built with fibro cladding, alum roof and concrete stumps; very minimalist. I call it my ‘architecturally designed shed'. I love it.

The place sits on the side of Mount Leura - a volcanic scoria cone - on the edge of town. It has uninterrupted northward views of the western plains. Grazing Fresian cows are the only obstruction of the view. You can see Mount Buninyong (90km away) near Ballarat on a clear day. Behind the house is a service road to the Princes Hwy with a 3km-ish long avenue of Elms in between. Over the road from the Elms is parkland and some housing and forming a backdrop to this is Mount Leura. I’m reluctant to sell, but…

The place has a heritage overlay. Heritage Advisor to Corangamite Shire, Samantha Westbrooke has provided a pre-application advice. I can provide this on request (file size is too big for attachments on this forum - and prob this posting too!)

I’m posting with the double intent of trying to flog the joint but also, if I fail to sell it I’d like to share ideas about design of the house because I’m keen to make some extensions and do some landscaping. I’m a horticulturalist and permaculturalist (and now a teacher) and have some knowledge of sustainable design. My idea would be to extend northwards with lots of glass atria at the ground level and a more solid structure at the second level and beneath it where the view would not be obstructed. I would connect existing outbuildings by extending the atria between them. The atria would maintain views but also bring my landscaping into the atria, enhancing the openness and sense of being a large and natural living space. These atria will abut the living space of the existing house and work to merge the two, but hopefully the glassiness of the extension will serve not to obstruct the presence of the existing house while still bringing the two abodes close together. The atria would mesh with the landscaping that would run down the western side of the house - on the opposite side of the solid extensions - and brush past and within the atria. The landscaping would cross the glass barriers by using the same stone on each side of the glass. Glass would open to the outside. The atria would be able to be closed off from the existing house. Hopefully some solar gain could be made from the atria. I picture large, heavy, exposed, used timbers, dry stone walls, lots of glass, vines and palms, slats, angled roofs, maybe slate, maybe split level, stone paving, Japanese/Indigenous/volcanic stone-style landscaping, raised beds, food production, keeping the existing fruit trees and restoring the
existing glass house.

Samantha has suggested I look at Butterpaper as a forum for heritage matters. I’m not sure what to expect. I welcome any comments on design or inquires on the house.
I'll try to attach plans and images soon (file size limitations = prob), otherwise just ask...



  • peter_j
    edited November -1
    Hi again Justin, do you have any pics? I don't know much (or anything) about the Murphys.

    Things have gone a bit quiet in the forum since facebook's explosion, but despite lack of posts, visitor traffic from google is still heavy, so your posts won't be in vain...

    Regarding the file size limitations, I think it's fine if under 2MB. If you're still having troubles, email to me via peter {{{at}}}
  • Justin
    edited July 2011
    Hi Peter

    Thanks for the reply.

    I can't tell you too much about the Murphys, except that they were progressive designers for their period. The house built in Camperdown was contentious because it was so unique and understated when compared to the the existing architecture of the town.

    I've set up a site at tumblr to help promote the house, and have put the url on the for sale sign at the house. I'll be adding info on the house, updates on the prospective sale (if it does sell - I would like to keep it and make some extensions - I've got some ideas I'd like to develop), my design ideas, of if people want to contribute design ideas (and become a potential architect/consultant for the job) or just discuss things thay check out my new site at tumblr. I'll be adding design sketches, pics and so on, soon:

    Facebook! I just shut down my page. People ask how to do this because it's apparently difficult to do so. The key is to just not use it and eventually it will shut down. I'm told 2 weeks but suspect it may take longer. I'm going to wait for 1 year and if it doesn't I'm going to make formal complaints. I can't help visualising marketers salivating over the megatonnes of user data FB generates. FB users are inadvertantly telling marketers what and how to sell them the crap that we buy that ensures we stuff up the planet and keep us in debt. Cynical? maybe

    I'll send you some pics when I get them - thanks, Peter

    bye for now
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