Episode 56: Eltham Mudbrick Houses

Alistair Knox was a maverick builder and self-taught architect who ran the first mudbrick house tour in Eltham 50 years ago. Now, there are almost two thousand examples of creative and beautiful homes using this natural building material.

What is it about mud brick houses that makes their owners more likely to be artists, writers or theatre people? Certainly the homes on the Eltham Mudbrick Tour are creative and quirky. Spiral staircases, hexagonal turrets and vast window areas looking out onto abundant green. Mudbrick pioneer Alistair Knox made his home out this way, no doubt inspired by the experimental design work going on at the artist colony of Montsalvat.

Alistair's home is on the tour again this year, fifty years after he organised the inaugural tour in 1964. He is something of a guru around here, his name spoken with reverence and respect. He bucked the trend, stuck his neck out and persuaded his banking bosses to loan him the money to purchase land on which to build his first house.

Knox turned the post-war shortages into a virtue and used natural, found and recycled materials in his designs. Although not qualified in architecture, he came to the same conclusions as many award-winning architects of his day and married form to landscape, forever trying to "bring the outside in".