This house, yes, house is on St.Kilda Rd, St.Kilda West, not far from where we are living and it is one of my favourite Melbourne landmarks. The striking facade is a mural of Pamela Anderson in patterned glass. It was commissioned by Sam Newman, an infamous figure in Australian Football and was designed by award winning architect Cassandra Fahey. The facade is actually called ‘White Noise’ and is manufactured from laminated glass, digital film and an aluminium flat plate grid frame.
Fahey was given an open brief by her client; a rare luxury, considering it was her first commission. Apparently, it was a design objective (of Farhey’s) to get her architecture on the front page of the national newspapers, and as her client was a celebrity, ‘she determined to cast her design net over popular culture’ (according to the St.Kilda historical society website). Why Farhey chose the image of Pamela Anderson is unclear, but rumours of a romantic link between Newman and Miss Anderson are apparently unsubstantiated.
Newman is one of Melbourne’s most colourful characters and over the years he has been no stranger to controversy. He is an Australian Football League legend and AFL hall Of Fame inductee. He played for Geelong for 17 seasons and played 41 games as captain. He is however, more famous for his on screen antics on Channel Nine’s The Footy Show. Newman is not what you would describe as the consummate professional. His on screen antics have included blacking up after Aboriginal guest Nicky Winmar failed to show, Having his underpants pulled down revealing his genitals to the cameras and getting assaulted live on air. Newman is also a renowned womaniser and his love life is rarely out of the tabloids. One of his many conquests has allegedly been the Playboy model and FHM favourite, Imogen Bailey. Although this is unsubstantiated and as she is 32 years his junior I am a little dubious. He was most recently in the news after getting into a fight at a samba party held to celebrate Australia’s group match at the 2006 World Cup. The man is quite obviously pure class!
The Exterior design of the house was unsurprisingly controversial and was dogged by objections (a situation hindered by builders taking down the covers before completion) and incorrect planning applications. Building opposite the former Royal Australian Planning Institute chair, Bernadette George’s house probably didn’t help. But Fahey couldn’t have picked a better candidate for such a controversial design. After all, if anybody was going to let a design like this fly, it was Newman. As the stories linking Newman romantically with Pamela Anderson were unsubstantiated, I suspect all he got was the (unsigned) photo. But hey, Newman’s photo is bigger than anybody else’s, just like the huge yellow Lamborghini Murcielago he has be seen driving around in.
Newman sold the house in July 2002. The headline in The Age, Melbourne’s premier newspaper read “When Sammy left Pammy”. Thankfully, the new owners have not implemented any changes, so Sammy may have left Pammy, but St.Kilda still has her, and I for one, think this Pammy gives much more to the world around her than the original ever has!