Super Colossal

Lyons House – Robin Boyd

Monday, 5th May 2008

robin boyd - lyons house

A few weekends ago, I was fortunate to visit the Lyons House by Robin Boyd. The visit was organised by the Boyd Homes Group - a bunch of Boyd crazies and Boyd home owners up from Melbourne for the weekend. We got word of it from Mr Dan Hill, so Antoinette, Dan and I jumped in a car and headed down to The Shire, to check it out.

robin boyd - lyons house

Built in 1966 for Dr Lyons, the house is the only Robin Boyd house in Sydney; that I know of at least. It is hung up off the ground with the rooms arranged around a central pool with slippery dip and diving . The post and beam construction of the upper level, lends the house a Japanese feel, with sliding screens and matchstick blinds adding to the sense of transparency and openness.

Structurally the house is quite interesting: the floors are all cantilevered off the in-situ concrete pool which acts like a ring beam. The twin timber beams that spring off the pool act as service zones for the house’s original services and are braced back to the brick wall that runs around the pool.

robin boyd - lyons house

The original client still lives in the house and was present on the day to talk about the house, from his initial meeting with Harry Seidler - who rubbed him up the wrong way, to the meetings with Boyd, to making a model to test how the sun would fall in the courtyard to the piano soirees his first wife held in the house to the waterproofing inadequacies of the kitchen windows.

robin boyd - lyons house

Also present was the builder, Bob Ellis (above) who talked of working with Boyd, the issues of pouring thin in-situ pools and getting clinker bricks on the cheap before they ‘went viral’ with the Sydney school.

robin boyd - lyons house
robin boyd - lyons house

Best of all perhaps was in the basement below the pool, where sharing space at the centre of the house with the pool, there was an extensive model railway complete with mountain range, bridges and railway tracks that ran around the walls.

Dan has many more photos up, and no doubt a far more comprehensive post about the house in the works…