What is significant?
The McCraith house, constructed in 1955, for Ellen and Gerald McCraith was designed in the office of Mornington Peninsula architects Chancellor and Patrick. The defining structural feature is the triangulated tubular steel framing system. The building is constructed using two triangulated truss frames fixed at four points to the massive concrete footings on their inverted apex with 'C' section steel beams and steel cross bracing tying the main frame together. The two main steel floor beams break the truss at half height and these in turn support the deep timber floor joists which are cantilevered at either end. The butterfly roof is formed with timber joists in a similar configuration. The first floor extends beyond the small rectangular ground level, allowing for the parking of cars under the overhanging wings. Contained within the splayed walls of the ground floor are a bedroom and laundry area. The first floor contains a second bedroom, living area and amenities. The dominance of the structural form forces the use of triangular awning windows at ground level with horizontal timber infill panelling between and timber framed triangular sliding doors to the balcony. The original horizontal board siding to the first floor angled walls has been replaced with sheet roof decking.
How is it significant?
The McCraith House is of architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The McCraith House is architecturally significant as an example of structurally inspired modernism in Victoria in the 1950's. The McCraith house was used as an example of the 'structural functional' idiom in the architectural journals of the time alongside the works of Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds, Harry Seidler and Peter and Dione McIntyre. The use of a prefabricated structural steel frame of this scale was unusual in domestic construction of the period. The design of the McCraith house displays a creative architectural response in a period when conventional building materials were in limited supply post WW2.
The McCraith house is also significant as a recognised contributor in the development of the Mornington Peninsula of a Regional style of housing. The McCraith house is representative of a change in the way society holidayed, influenced by the greater availability of the family car.
The McCraith house is a small building embodying the ideas of structural experimentation, whimsical design, modern planning and the ideals of a 'holiday house'. Positioned precariously on a stone walled plinth, high above Dromana overlooking Port Phillip Bay, the McCraith house is distinguished by its unusual form creating a dramatic architectural statement.