Dr Michael Baker, a mathematician, demanded very particular mathematical and geometric rules. He had discovered the area of Long Forest near Bacchus Marsh, which was dense, untouched bush at the time. He commissioned Robin Boyd to build his home there in 1966. Both men were visionaries and the resulting property Boyd Baker House has been called ‘One of Australia’s most important Post War buildings’ by Melbourne University’s Professor of Architecture, Mr Phillip Goad. Robin Boyd is one of the foremost proponents of the ‘International Modern Movement’ in Australian Architecture. Dr Baker said “For Robin Boyd it was not just another project. He treated it as a masterpiece”.
Robin’s book ‘The Australian Ugliness’, published in 1960, is a critique of Australian Architecture in suburbia and the lack of a uniform architectural goal. He is the younger son of painter Penleigh Boyd and first cousin of the renowned Australian painter, Arthur Boyd. Dr. Baker was before his time, demanding a plan of the house prior to approving the build.
Michael Baker decided against a large English garden, saying “The flora and fauna of the bush are tied up together, they cannot be separated and each relies upon the other. The koalas, possums, bull ants species, many small birds and the wallabies all rely on the delicate, struggling foliage of the mally trees and their under story for survival. The relationship is age old, delicate and all too important to upset.” Thus trees that obstructed the views were never cleared with the house being the only manmade thing to disturb the calm of the bush.
The roof became a low pyramid, 27.5 metres square over symmetrically curved stone walls linked by straight window walls. The water tanks became stone cylinders supporting the edge of the roof. Service rooms and children’s sleeping cubicles formed an inner ring around the court. The stone was quarried locally in Bacchus Marsh, floors were polished concrete and the roof was thatched.
In 1967 Rosemary and Michael Baker’s family had expanded to five children, all being home schooled, so they decided that they needed another house. Robin Boyd was once again commissioned as architect for the new dwelling, called the Boyd Dower House. By then the local quarry in Bacchus Marsh had closed down and Dr Baker started quarrying sandstone on site. He tells a story that he and his family and friends would busily quarry the stone by hand and cart it up the huge hill towards the Dower House ready for the builders to turn up on Monday.