John Simpson, Master builder
Kevin Glacken, Shipwright
Michael Gilbert, Jack Of All Trades
Andrew Fong, Apprentice
Tom Uren – Labour leader, environmentalist, peace and social justice advocate – always wanted to return to the working-class suburb of Balmain where he was born. He bought the block in 1983 and engaged architect Richard Leplastrier to design his house. Before putting pen to paper, Leplastrier camped on the site for a week, insisting: ‘When you do that, you get to see how the place works in a way that you can’t if you only visit for a few hours two or three times … You see how it works with the weather, the sunrise and sunset, noise, neighbours, the harbour activity – all the local conditions’.
Like many Leplastrier houses, Tom Uren House is lovingly crafted – with recycled jarrah and karri framing, blackbutt walls and brushbox floors. The brilliance of its design is that the building itself has a pure simplicity that offers warmth and calm the moment you enter, while perfectly framing the wide sky and harbour views.
Leplastrier’s work is influenced by Japanese architecture and sailing, and his time spent working with Jørn Utzon on the Sydney Opera House in the mid-1960s. The hallmark of his houses is an acute sensitivity to place, and the rituals of people who occupy them.
Hear how the owners experience living in this iconic home.
Amanda Blair & Damien Rath