MPavilion - Peter McIntyre: "Logic for comfort, imagination for delight"
MPavillion has set up at Parkade, the first modernist multistory car-park in Melbourne (just over the road from the Melbourne Club and all its leafy, inaccessible allure.) On Friday night I went to see a film and talk about/by the building's architect Peter McIntyre. McIntyre designed two of my favourite Melbourne houses: River house and Stargazer House.
The first time I ever saw River House I was paddling on the Yarra and it appeared between the trees like something in one of my dreams. This weird winged house. So I knew McIntyre was interesting, and a contemporary of Robin Boyd, John Murphy, Kevin Borland, Roy Grounds. But I didn't know he'd brought strategic planning to Melbourne (or what it was), or that he'd made films, or that listening to him speak would make me feel emotional - it is strange what buildings and history can bring up.
The first film was Peter and Dione McIntyre 1950-1960 – Counterbalancing Forces by Toby Reed - a spare documentary that provides an introduction to McIntyre's work and philosophy (I could have heard more about Dione) - Reed has been making the film over years and continues to add content, and edit so I expect I'll get to see another iteration of someday.
Afterwards McIntyre talked at length, with alacrity and humour and the occasional deviation and also tears (when he spoke about Robin Boyd, his great friend, who died too young and unexpectedly.) He said that he considered many of the buildings he designed to have failed - simply because they were built for the moment and not for the future. When he built River House he was a bachelor, but as he had a family adaptations had to be made. And his public buildings, such as the Olympic Swimming Stadium* and Beulah Hospital, proved ultimately unsustainable. (This was also due to the fact that the architects had to be creative with available materials, and super-tight budgets.)
McIntyre spoke of the need to design houses that respond to people's psychologies - which made me think about my emotional connection to every house I've ever lived in as well as the houses I dream about. (Aside: whenever I dream about a house I try to draw the plan of it, sometimes this is impossible but I get down what I can, the broken room, the surprise balcony. In a recent dream there was a button on this very blog that led to all the plans.)
The second film of the evening was Boyd and McIntyre's vibrant (lurid!) fascinating mini film Your House and Mine, about the evolution of housing in Melbourne. It featured many many stills of houses which I'm sure no longer exist and a wildly 1950s BBC style narration and bebop/MOR soundtrack. How extraordinary to be McIntyre to have this long term connection to place, to have witnessed all the changes of this city, what has been made and what has been erased.
MPavilion has all sorts of interesting events running until April- you can check out the program here. I am on the waitlist fot the roller disco - I completely want to do a Cliff Richard Wired for Sound roll around the Parkade. Hope it happens. (Aside: I have not donned rollerskates since about 1982.)
*w/Kevin Borland and John & Phyllis Murphy