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Fibro Moderne - Mid 20th Century Housing in Monterey NSW

Fast disappearing, the modest fibro houses of the early 20th Century bayside suburb of Monterey show ingenuity and an eye to the architectural fashions of the time. Identified in a 1990 heritage study as "Fibro Moderne" these houses used the modernist idiom as a source book for ideas.

According to Charles Pickett, Curator of Social History at the Powerhouse Museum and author of "The Fibro Frontier", fibro houses are perhaps our most distinctive expression of domestic architecture. Driven by the inter-war austerity measures, fibro was a material that embraced versatility and simplicity and enabled people to own their own home.

Monterey fibro is distinctive because it also embraced modernity. The houses are an extraordinary collection of unique dwellings that are consistent in their use of materials and application of the Moderne style. Located in the California-themed suburb of Monterey, with street names like Hollywood and Pasadena, these houses demonstrate the marketability of modern design in a rare show of conformity between professional and public taste in domestic design. Now vulnerable due to their modest size and the safety issues associated with asbestos, the project aims to raise public appreciation and record this rare collection of houses for posterity.

With grant funding from the Australian Government's 'Your Community Heritage Program' Council's team of experts; Michael Bogle, architectural historian and expert on 20th Century design and Charles Pickett researched and wrote the history of the Monterey suburb and its distinctive Fibro Moderne houses; Russel Workman, professional heritage photographer, recorded this small collection of houses for posterity and Jennifer More, communication designer, designed a delightful visitor's guide that celebrates this small but unique collection of houses.

It should be noted that it is not Council's intention to Heritage List these properties as an outcome of this project, but simply to celebrate them and ensure that this part of our history is not forgotten.

A PDF soft copy of the History of Fibro Moderne Houses and the Visitor's Guide can be downloaded from the previous links. The Visitor’s Guide is also available in hard copy by contacting Council's Urban Strategy unit on (02) 9562 1634 or emailing

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