‘It is as much as one could hope to squeeze into a single life’: The remarkable story of Edith Emery

When architects Mat Hinds and Poppy Taylor were asked to design an extension to their friend’s 1950s Hobart home, something struck them.

“When we first looked at it, we were like, ‘Well, it feels like there was someone involved,’ like there was… an architect involved,” says Poppy.

“So we asked them and they said, ‘Yes, we actually have plans from the previous owner,’ and then they pulled out these drawings and we took a closer look and then it became clear that there was really exceptional work done here.”

The 1958 plans were signed by Edith Emery – someone neither Poppy nor Mat had ever heard of before, prompting them to investigate the mysterious designer.

“The drawings were a really powerful indicator for us that there was something here that needed to be understood, and when you read drawings as an architect you can see a lot of intelligence in a drawing,” said Mat Tim Ross for ABC TV’s Legacy design.

But as Mat and Poppy later found out, the story is how, in 1950s Australia, Edith came to design houses that fill the pages of a Hollywood screenplay.

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