CALL TO ACTION: Help us save Robin Boyd’s former family home

Featured image: Former Boyd House, Riversdale Road, Camberwell, by Mark Strizic, 1970, State Library of Victoria

What is happening?

An application has been made to Heritage Victoria to remove the Former Boyd House at 666 Riversdale Road, Camberwell (formerly 158 Riversdale Road) from the Victorian Heritage Register. The Former Boyd House was classified by the National Trust as a place of State significance in 1987, and added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1991.

The Executive Director of Heritage Victoria has assessed the request, and recommended that the house not be removed from the Register. This recommendation is open for public consultation until Monday 14 September. The Heritage Council will then review submissions and make a final decision. A registration hearing may be held if requested by the property owner or a submitter.

We need your support to show the Heritage Council that the Former Boyd House is an important part of our state’s cultural heritage, and should be protected for current and future generations.

How can I help? 

To make a submission to the Heritage Council of Victoria, fill out the required “Form A” in support of the Executive Director’s recommendation, and submit it via email before close of business on Monday 14 September. It doesn’t take long to complete, and every submission counts.

You can read the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria’s recommendation here.

When setting out your reasons for supporting the Executive Director’s recommendation, explain why you believe the Former Boyd House is significant and should be retained in the Register. You can refer to the Statement of Significance, below.

To find out more about this process, you can refer to the National Trust’s Advocacy Toolkit (Advocacy Guide No. 1).

Why is it important? 

The National Trust believes that the Former Boyd House is an important part of our state’s architectural heritage that should continue to be protected. We strongly support the recommendation of the Executive Director, and we do not believe that removal from the Register is justified.

The Former Boyd House, built just after World War II in 1946-7, is recognised in the Register as an early and influential example of Robin Boyd’s work, and one of the earliest known modernist houses constructed in Victoria. It was the first home designed and occupied by Boyd and his family, and embodied emerging design philosophies including open plan living, multi-functional spaces, and innovative use of materials and built-in features.

As part of this process, Heritage Victoria has reviewed the reasons for its inclusion in the Register, and prepared a new Statement of Significance for consideration by the Heritage Council, which is reproduced below:

Proposed Statement of Cultural Heritage Significance (included in the Executive Director’s recommendation):


The Former Robin Boyd House including the residential building (exteriors and interiors), all fixtures and fittings attached to the building at the time of registration, and all the land. The two storey 1975 extension at the southern end of the residential building is not of significance.


Criterion A: Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history.

Criterion D: Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.

Criterion F: Important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

Criterion H: Special association with the life or works of a person, or groups of persons, of importance in Victoria’s history.


The Former Robin Boyd House is significant at the State level for the following reasons:

The Former Robin Boyd House is historically significant for its clear association with post-war residential development in Victoria and post-war modernist architecture. As the earliest known constructed work of renowned architect, writer and critic, Robin Boyd, it allows the clear association with post-war modernist residences to be understood better than most other places in Victoria with substantially the same association. [Criterion A]

The Former Robin Boyd House is architecturally significant as a notable example of a post-war modernist residence. It is a fine and highly intact example which demonstrates innovative and experimental design through its open plan living spaces with multi-functional rooms and undefined room boundaries, and its design in response to the site. As the earliest known constructed residence by architect Robin Boyd it was influential as the physical manifestation of Boyd’s design philosophies. It is one of the earliest known modernist houses constructed in Victoria and encapsulates a key evolutionary stage in the development of the class, and of architecture in Victoria. [Criterion D]

The Former Robin Boyd House is technically significant and demonstrates a high degree of creative achievement for the period in which it was constructed. As one of the earliest known examples of modernist architecture in Victoria – constructed just two years after the end of World War II – the Former Robin Boyd House is recognised as breakthrough in term of its design. It incorporated aspects of design such as open plan living, multi-functional rooms, integrated joinery and response to the site which were considered revolutionary at the time, but are now seen as commonplace. [Criterion F]

The Former Robin Boyd House is significant for its special association with Robin Boyd’s life, work and achievements. It is the first home designed and occupied by him and his family and is where he lived while his career evolved from one as a relatively unknown architect to one of Australia’s most well-known and acclaimed architects. [Criterion H]

Former Robin Boyd House, Riversdale Road, Camberwell, by Peter Wille, State Library of Victoria.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Rod Armstrong

    This treasure must not be lost. Boyd is an iconic architect and too few of his masterpieces remain. This building as a wonderful example of modernist architecture of its time.

  2. 4
    Jan West

    This property has been at significant risk for many many years – the owners attempted to demolish it but were stopped by injunction – it has remained apparently uninhabited, untouched, neglected and deteriorating ever since.
    The owners should not be allowed to further neglect such an important building and must be forced to properly maintain it to secure its future. All steps must be taken to protect and secure the future of this important building – including mandated emergency repairs.
    The owners must not be permitted to destroy this building.
    The Boroondara Council has failed to protect this heritage asset in the municipality.

  3. 5
    Andrew P

    This house is 50 metres away from my childhood home where my elderly parents still reside. Whilst visiting yesterday I noted with great concern that all almost all the vegetation has been removed at 666 Riversdale Road in the past week. This now provides clear access to all the buildings. I sincerely hope the owners aren’t going to try and demolish it illegally.

  4. 6
    Anussia L

    I am part of the family who own the house and would strongly assert that Andrew P’s post is unfortunately fictitious as there are no ‘elderly parents’ living within 50 metres as we know all of the surrounding neighbours. Also it is ‘scaremongering’ to incite some community backlash against my family as we have no intention whatsoever of illegally demolishing the house and the claim that almost all the vegetation has been removed is categorically wrong, as we have simply tidied up and cleared some areas of the land around the house in response to Heritage Victoria’s request and also at the request of the Council due to complaints from nearby neighbours. To not comply with these requests would be irresponsible. I felt compelled to post this comment as otherwise incorrect and potentially dangerous posts like Andrew P’s appear factual. Thank you for posting my response.

  5. 7
    Julian N

    I have been appalled at the neglect and deterioration of this historic building and have wondered why on earth this has been allowed it to happen

  6. 8
    John Hughes

    I rented 666 Riversdale Rd for two years until the new owner arrived one day.
    A series of photos taken whilst living there were, according to Mrs Boyd (whom I gave copies to) were according to her the only colour shots ever taken of the interior. I also gave the same series to Richard Peterson, Architect of 20 Russel St, Ivanhoe. Sadly I lost the original negatives and my prints in a house fire. Attempting to track the copies I received no response from Richard Peterson (possibly deceased?). Mrs Boyd had already passed on.
    In an attempt to track Mrs Boyd’s copies I contacted the Robin Boyd Society but never heard back.
    According to Mrs Boyd my series of shots were the only ones in colour of the house in it’s original state.

    The house itself was absolute magic to live in. It had the strange effect of calming down everyone who visited there. They’d arrive jabbering but by the time they’d descended the stairs into the lower lounge they were behaving as if in a sacred place. From my perspective they were. Given the Riversdale Rd house was constructed in 1946 for Boyd and his family it was astonishingly advanced for it’s time. The outwardly angled windows facing the garden were the first ever manufactured by Stegbar. I could ramble on and on.
    If this residence is allowed to be vandalised by the present owner I’d be horrified.
    John Hughes
    [email protected]

    PS: I won’t say anything much about the new owner given steam comes out of my ears just thinking about her.

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