What is significant? Taunton, 520 Toorak Road, Toorak designed by Robert B. Hamilton and Associates and constructed in 1936, is significant. The significant attributes are the Old English style form, materials and detailing of the flats, low brick garden walls, garage and front fence and lych gate, and the garden setting. The high level of external intactness and wide range of decorative and quirky detailing that is typical of Hamilton including uniquely designed screen doors with inset panels, the grotesques to the lych gate etc. are integral to the significance of the place.
Later alterations and additions are not significant.
How is it significant? Taunton is of local architectural and aesthetic significance to the City of Stonnington.
Why is it significant? Architecturally, Taunton is a highly accomplished and externally intact example of interwar flats designed in the Old English style. Aesthetically, the flats are distinguished by their skilful modulation of roof forms, projecting bays, window types and cladding materials to break up a long building and create the sense of an intimate Medieval village. Details of particular note include the Japanese-influenced lych gate with carved grotesques, and the rare use of terracotta roof shingles and hung tiles. Also for its association with Robert Hamilton, Victoria's foremost practitioner of the inter-war Old English style. (Criteria E, F & H)
Taunton, 520 Toorak Road, Toorak, is a two-storey flats building set behind a medium-sized front garden and a high brick wall and lych gate providing vehicular and pedestrian access. The wall is of clinker brick, as are the piers of the lych gate. The gate has a striking Japanese-influenced 'pagoda' roof, with bell-cast eaves and terracotta shingle cladding. The roof is visually supported by two rustic timber beams with carved grotesques under either end. The gate provides access to a driveway with clinker brick paving in a herringbone pattern. Garden beds in front of the flats are edged in clinker brick as well.
The flats building is long and narrow, with the long side facing the driveway and effectively serving as the principle facade. It has a high hipped roof, clad in terracotta shingles, with many projecting bays to the Toorak Road and east side (inner) facades which break up its bulk. The gables range from high hips and vergeless gables, to jerkin-head gables, and are often doubled with a smaller projecting window bay on the front.
Cladding material is highly diverse, and varies from flat to flat, further visually breaking the long building down into a row of Medieval 'houses'. The Toorak Road elevation has clinker brick foundations and smooth rendered walls, with a large and prominent external corbelled chimney. The east elevation, from front to rear, has two-storey bay windows with hung tiles to the spandrels, first-storey walls clad in hung tiles and jettied over clinker brick walls, another rendered section with intricate oriel windows and jettied corners above a canted bay window, fachwerk with curved timbers and crazy-brick nogging, and another rendered section with hung tiles to a corner balcony.
All of these elements have high-quality details, including scalloped metal skirts below windows, carved grotesque faces to the end of beams supporting the jettied bay, hanging lanterns to light entries, and intricate diamond pane leadlight windows to the fachwerk gable. The other windows are mainly four-over-four and six-over-six double-hung sashes.
There are several rendered garages at the end of the driveway, which are original.
No external alterations to the flats or front fence were noted.