Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fountain Gate Housing Estate

The Fountain Gate housing estate, in Narre Warren, was developed by Isador Magid in the mid 1960s. He employed Robin Boyd to create the Estate on Radburn principles, which involved separating pedestrians and vehicles by providing short cul-de-sac entries and internal spines of open space. Prominent architects were also employed to design Protoype houses. The Fountain Estate is bounded by Tinks Road, Sweet Gum Avenue, Prospect Hill Road and Dawn Avenue and is listed in the City of Casey Heritage Scheme as being of local significance and possibly State significance and an innovative and imaginative housing development. Some individual houses also have Heritage listing. 

Fountain Gate Estate 1972

House and land prices at the Fountain Gate Estate from an advertisement in The Age June 17, 1976.

Fountain Gate Estate 1978. The Fountain Gate Shopping Centre wasn't opened until March 1980. The City of Berwick Civic Centre was opened in December 1978.

A copy of the original Estate plan which came with the contract of sale.

This is not very legible but it is a letter dated November 14, 1966 from Alexander Magit & Associates to the Shire of Berwick  advising us of the  approval of your Council for the erection of the motif in the form of  a fountain in accordance with the designs prepared by Mr Robin Boyd, Architect.

According to a long serving City of Casey/City of Berwick employee, this Robin Boyd fountain at the entrance to the Estate  was only turned on once when the estate was opened ( early 1970’s ) and the water went onto the highway which caused traffic problems, this may have been because the prevailing wind at the time. As you can imagine because of it’s proximity to the highway this would be a problem, which became worse when the highway was widened, it was never turned on again.

Artist's impression of the Fountain Gate Estate from 
The Age June 3, 1967.  
The fountain, which is still there, was designed by Romberg & Boyd. 

Detail of the Fountain from The Age June 3, 1967.

Photograph of the fountain from The Age June 3, 1967

There was some discussion in the early 1990s about the Fountain Gate name and whether it should become the name of  a suburb. The Fountain Gate Shopping Centre tended to dominate the area and people began to use Fountain Gate to describe the area, rather than the correct name of Narre Warren. In the end it was never adopted as a suburb name and both the Fountain Gate Housing Estate and the Shopping Centre are in Narre Warren.

This article from the Sunday Age of  February 16, 1992 mentions the controversy of the use of the name Fountain Gate as opposed to Narre Warren.  Also of interest is the price of a house $106,000. 

However, the fact that Fountain Gate was never officially adopted as a place name didn't prevent developers using the name in a proposed future housing estate, south of the Highway. This brochure isn't dated but I presume it is from the 1980s.

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