Today I was able to tour the block of flats known as Cairo on Nicholson Street, Fitzroy as part of Open House Melbourne.
Designed by Best Overend the flats were constructed in 1936 in a U shaped around a large communal garden.
The block consists of 20 bed-sits and eight one bedroom units. The spaces are small with some built-in furniture however the complex originally included a communal dining room, an in-house meal service and a laundry service. The serving hatches placed at floor level outside each kitchenette are still in place.
Overend worked with Wells Coates in London and Cairo follows many of the principals employed in Coates' Lawn Road flats in Hampstead which had been completed two years earlier. The concept was to provide minimal bachelor flats at affordable prices.
We were able to visit one of the ground-floor bed-sits which had been recently renovated in keeping with those original design principles. The ground-floor flats each have a private garden. The units on the southern arm of the block face the internal communal garden which adds to the airy feeling of those units.
The first floor flats have access to the roof via concrete stairways including a most extraordinary cantilevered spiral at the centre of the black forming the bottom of the U.
And it provides a lovely view of the city oasis at Cairo.
MELBOURNE ART DECO
In 2009 Robin Grow published a book on Melbourne Art Deco, with images largely supplied by David Thompson. The book quickly sold out and he is pleased to say that it has now been re-published by Brolga Press, with updates, errors corrected and a new cover.
Best of all, it is selling for about $25 in the shops and on-line. Art Deco & Modernism Society members can purchase a copy from me for $22, (includes postage within Australia). For overseas orders please email for postage rates. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested, and advise if you would like the book to be dedicated and/or signed.