Category Archives: architecture

Blue Poles at the museum

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There is talk in the art world about the National Gallery of Australia’s (NGA) changes to their permanent collection galleries and how this has included the movement of the famous Jackson Pollock painting, Blue Poles, from its long historic position downstairs to the upstairs galleries.

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Dickson Flats and Canberra Planning Madness

The madness of Canberra’s planning and development

flats-P1100033Since the 1960s there has been several rows of public housing located on the main road into Canberra. In the last year, the Dickson Flats have been listed for demolition to allow for brand new multi-unit developments. So far so good. Maybe! (pic by Paul Costigan)

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Architectural Wonders

Comment: architectural eyesores and failures

rmitWhen it comes to architectural eyesores and mistakes, there are many. They are not mentioned by the professions.

Once when attending a conference on green roofs, an architect told the story of his first major green roof project. All sounded impressive, until he casually mentioned how it failed and that water penetrated the top floor of the office building.

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Architecture discovers the bleeding obvious

Comment: Architects realise something is wrong with cities

rmitJust read a short article about how an architect at the world architecture festival stated that something has gone wrong with the design of our cities!

Wow! Now there’s a revelation from the profession largely responsible for the problem.

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Architecture Eyesores

Commentary: Architecture Basket Cases

rmitI love the joy of good architecture, being both places and buildings. There is something really wonderful when you experience the enjoyment of good design. However there are other contributions that simply take your breath away for all the wrong reasons!

Here are a couple of gems.

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Embassy Architecture – Solomon Islands

Review: Embassy Architecture in Canberra

The Solomon Islands High Commission1-solomonP1060929I spotted this example of successful embassy architecture as I was driving past to have lunch at the Beaver Gallery Cafe in Deakin. From the available online information (and there’s not much) I think these new buildings for the High Commission for the Solomon Islands were completed around 2011/2012.

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Architecture of Enjoyment

Announcement: New Book on Architecture
Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, 2014, Author: Henri Lefebvre

image_miniI’m about to get my hands on a copy of this book. Having read some of the commentary about the author and the concepts he is dealing with, the book reinforces the need for more discussion about the topic of enjoyment of architecture and urban spaces.

My life is already involved with dealing with planning bureaucracies that lack vision and any notion of good design. I have posted several times about the blandness of architecture in our cities.

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The Saturday Paper

Review: Media

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I am recommending that you read a couple of articles in last weekend’s Saturday Paper. As a general comment, The Saturday Paper is a good read. At times the combined effect of their well written articles about current issues can be a little depressing.  Australia’s has one of its worst governments and most commentators are doing the right thing in examining just how much trouble these people are causing the country. It is not good news. My preference is that I would like to see more regular articles on the visual arts!

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Hospital Architecture Brisbane

Review:  Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital

photographed late June/early July 2014 – due to open later in 2014

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On two recent visits to Brisbane I noticed this new hospital building under construction in South Brisbane.  I first noticed it as while crossing the river.  I was impressed that at last there was something in the area that was not simply bland-box architecture. (click on photographs to enlarge)

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Architectural Eyesores

Comment: From James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler’s blog often has interesting points to offer in the debate about design and architecture and how it is assisting, or not, with solutions for the future.

Click on the image for eyesore of the month of June 2014. I do not always agree with what he sees as eyesores. But it a great start to any debate. In this case, yes, the tall towers’ days have gone but the developers and architects will stay with them while there is money to be made. Stuff the environment!

Click on the image.

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2014 World Architecture Awards

Comment: World Architecture Festival Awards

53b6e562c07a80a343000206_shortlist-announced-for-the-world-architecture-festival-awards-2014_montage-530x387The 2014 World Architecture Festival Awards shortlisted projects have been listed online. It makes for an interesting read.

I have provided two links below. One with categories only  – which means you have click-through to see more. The other is the full list. A number of Australian projects have been listed, including The National Botanic Gardens – these I have reviewed (click here) , so I will say no more.

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100 Canberra Houses

Review: Book
100 Canberra Houses: A Century of Capital Architecture / by Tim Reeves and Alan Roberts

100Houses-0This book about housing in Canberra is welcomed by those amongst us who would love to see more good design in the provision of houses in Canberra. Much of Canberra, as with most places internationally, is presently being devastated with loads of new badly designed suburbs as well as very awful blocks of cheaply rendered apartments being foisted on the older inner suburbs. The authors of this book are to be congratulated for illustrating that the architecture for residential properties can be something to be enjoyed.

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Sydney Urbanity and Architecture

Is architecture is failing contemporary Sydney? Part One

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There is no doubt that the City of Sydney and its harbour are magnificent to behold. (click on the photo to enlarge). The mix of built structures really makes for a view that demands you take the time to stare, contemplate and to just enjoy it for as long as it takes. However…..

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Architecture Marketing

Review: Architecture Exhibition
Architecture Marketing and
The Iconic Australian Houses at Museum of Sydney till 17 August 2014

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Over the years I have ventured into many exhibitions on Australian architecture. Most have been so badly put together that to call them boring is an understatement. This is not to say that the architecture is the problem, it is clearly that bodies such as the Institute of Architects know how to talk themselves but have little idea of how to market to the wider general public.

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Just Say No

Comment: on being True to the Planet can mean sometimes you have to just say no.

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How are we being served by our professions in their provision of buildings and landscape projects? The highest priority for the future of the planet remains that every action be taken in the context of addressing climate change adaptation.

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HOME Witold Rybczynski

Review: Book
Home: A short history of an idea
by Witold Rybczynski 1986

134218I bought this book about tens years ago – maybe even more. I can remember starting to read it and thinking what a great little book. Then the business of work interfered with normality and sadly enough time did not materialise again to sit down peacefully and get into this little gem; until now.

I found the book amongst so many other unloved publication the other week and immediately set out to enjoy it fully. I did. I now recommend it highly. What an intelligent and entertaining writer.

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Grand Designs Australia

Review: TV program (on DVD)
Grand Designs Australia – season Three

XYZ23902_GDAS3.pdfOccasionally it is good to sit back and watch a series of programs about how people are going about building their homes. In this case, the programs are based on the UK long running series, Grand Designs. The commentator, Peter Maddison, is an Australian architect who follows more or less the same lines as the UK presenter, Kevin McCloud.

Series 3 is dated 2012. However, despite its currency, the amount attention paid by architects, builders, the developers and the presenter himself to the need to address climate change adaptation is minimal in most of the case studies. Continue reading Grand Designs Australia

University Urbanity

Review: Campus Design
A review of new architecture and spaces within the ANU (Australian National University) Part One

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Across Australia there are stand out examples of campus design amongst many of our universities. In more recent years I have had reason to visit campuses in all the states and back here in Canberra and have been constantly impressed with some of the architectural and landscape work.  In most cases I have been positively impressed with the work and in others I have been taken aback.

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The Farrell Review UK

Report: The Built Environment

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In January 2013 the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned a review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.  The recommendations covered: Education, Outreach and Skills; Design Quality; Cultural Heritage; Economic Benefits; and Built Environment Policy.

See our other blog for more details and comments click here

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Paul Costigan, 2 April 2014

Post-Soviet Architecture

Review: Book
The Butt-Ugly Allure of Post-Soviet Architecture

The photographs of architecture of the Post-Soviet era.

There’s a review in WIRED online of a book. To quote: Frank Herfort moved to Moscow with no intention to make a book. Like all photographers, the German-born artist always keeps one eye open for potential subjects, but making a book of architectural photos was never the plan. “While scouting the new city for myself, I began to notice these amazing buildings.”

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Gardens By The Bay

Review: Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

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This is a difficult review.  I am not as enthusiastic about this major park project as all the reviews I can find online. I am very ware that it has been granted all sorts of awards. Please check award accolades here in the UK Telegraph,  and again on this award site.

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Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003 I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

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Education in ecology and biodiversity

The Nature of Cities

Education in ecology and biodiversity

If cities look to stay within their boarders, there is the need to seek acceptable ways to intensify the number of residents within the older suburbs. This requires an intelligent engagement with the present residents of suburban areas on a case by case basis.

Given the need to address climate change within the suburbs as they are being redeveloped and upgraded throws up a host of requirements that should have by now have been built into legislation. Sadly this is not so as most of the re-development and intensification as been left to laissez-faire market forces.

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Cultural Writing

Opinion: Cultural Criticism

The current state of Cultural Reviews and Critical Comment

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Recently the Guardian ran an opinion piece on the Barangaroo development on the eastern edge of Sydney’s CBD. The author pointed out that she had been involved in the project.

I suggest that the author failed to declare that they had been more than just simply ‘involved’. In fact they had been a leading professional on the team that had won the design competition, that had then seen their designs criticised publicly by people such as Paul Keating, then had their wining design rejected by the client and a new design developed and the contracts awarded to other teams.

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Architecture & Awards

Opinion Piece on the state of Australian Architecture Awards

frontNGA-P1020039 It was while standing in front of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), that it occurred to me that the extension, which includes the new entrance, had not figured in awards. I am fully aware of the controversies about how these extensions came about. Should any of that have excluded this architectural addition to the nation’s art gallery from being the recipient of awards.

I intend to write more about the NGA in the near future, but for now I my curiosity has turned to the architecture awards as run by the national professional body, the AIA. These awards are lauded nationally, so why not apply a reality check as to how their award winners really stack up.

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National Portrait Gallery

Review: Urbanity

A work in progress – reviewing the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra

The National Portrait Gallery of Australia opened in 2009 to much acclaim. This national cultural institution has become a very popular tourist destination. The gallery sits in amongst trees in the National Parliamentary Triangle alongside the National Gallery of Australia and the High Court of Australia.

While I have seen nothing but praise for the building, I beg to differ.  Particularly when talking about the outside of the building and how it ‘sits in the landscape’. More on that later.

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