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Cairo Flats and Cairo Studio

Architect: Best Overend of Taylor Soilleux & Overend, Alterations Nicholas Agius Architects and Architecture Architecture

City of Yarra | R03 + R04

Booked Out

For this year’s Open House, the Cairo Flats will feature one tour across two properties, and the grounds, led by Architecture Architecture and Nicholas Agius Architects.

Cairo Flats consists of a U-shaped block of 36 apartments, with 26 studio and 10 one-bedroom residences. It was designed by the noted architect, Best Overend of the architectural practice Taylor, Soilleux and Overend, and built in 1936 by Blease Macpherson and Co. Through his regular articles in The Argus newspaper, Australian Home Beautiful and other magazines, Best Overend became the arch-publicist of modernism in the 1930s. Arguably no other built example better illustrates his ideas during this period than Cairo Flats. Overend had worked in London with modernist Wells Coates. On his return to Australia, he began writing on the minimum flat concept – an entirely functional living unit with built-in or fold-down furniture, complete with labour saving devices. Cairo Flats was designed to illustrate these principles. The flats sought a distinctive type of accommodation; the custom-designed bachelor flat, providing maximum amenity in minimum space for minimum rent. The flats were supported by a communal dining room, an in-house meal and laundry service and lockable garages. Cairo Flats established a major break with earlier types of flats in Australia. It is significant for introducing the flat to the modernist program in Australia, and for its acknowledgement of the existence of a new, modern way of living.

Embracing the philosophy of making more with less, Architecture Architecture have created a simple space with maximum flexibility to address contemporary living needs within a minimum floor area – an exercise in creating a fully functional abode within a mere 24 square metres.

Cairo studio recalibrates room function to accommodate a suite of new spaces. The character of the modifications express a domestic utility without eliminating opportunities for discovery and delight in the form of a crafted tool chest in which to sleep, eat and wash.

Need to Know

  • Open: Sun 10am - 4pm - Booking required for this building

  • Photography Restricted: Yes

  • What's Open: Both Cairo Flats and Cairo Studio, and grounds

  • Tour Details: First release Friday 13 July 8.30am until booked out, second release Friday 20 July 8.30am until booked out, small booking fee applies. Tours at 10.00am, 10.45am, 11.30am, 12.15pm, 1pm, 1.45pm, 2.30pm, 3.15pm, running for 45 minutes, in groups of 10.

  • Building Type: Residential

  • Access: Limited mobility access

  • Year Built: 1936, 2017

  • Website:

  • Transport: Stop 13: Nicholson St/Hanover St on route 96.

  • Photo Credit: Rubin Utama, Tom Ross

  • Tour Type: Pre-booked

    Booked Out


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