Friday, August 7, 2009

Cairo Flats, Fitzroy

Cairo, FitzroyIn a recent email, Brian from the Fitzroyalty website expressed surprise that I hadn't written about a block of flats called Cairo in Nicholson St, Fitzroy and did I know of them.

I didn't have to think for long because I do know of them but the gardens are so overgrown that it is difficult to get a clear photo. He got me thinking though and I had a look at his post on Cairo from January 2009.

From my point of view the best part of Brian's article is the use of photos from the archives which show the flats soon after they were built and before the garden matured.

Then I read Philip Goad's article, Best Overend - Pioneer Modernist in Melbourne from Fabrications : The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Vol 6 published in 1995/6. It is a great read.

In 1931, in his early 20s, Best Overend went to London and worked for 18 months as Chief Draughtsman for Wells Coates. Returning to Melbourne in 1933, Overend, having passed his Royal Institute of British Architech exams while in London, joined the architectural firm of H Vivian Taylor and G A Soilleux.

Overend designed Cairo in 1935 as a U-shaped block of minimum flats with a communal dining room. The block also had two communal laundries on the roof and garages at the rear of the property.

Certainly there is an interesting connection to the Lawn Road Flats which Wells Coates designed in 1932 when Overend was working for him in London.

Cairo, Fitzroy

The outstanding feature of the Cairo flats is the cantilevered stairs at the centre of the block at the bottom of the 'U'.

My photo does not do them justice but there is an excellent archival photo in Brian's aforementioned artice which really shows how astounding these stairs are.

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