It has only been a few weeks since the local press bore tributes to Derek Wrigley (February, 1924 – June, 2021).
It has only been a few weeks since the local press bore tributes to Derek Wrigley (February, 1924 – June, 2021).
Once upon a time, Canberra tourism included views of tree-lined suburban streets. That was Canberra as we knew it – a city in a landscape. The ambience was greenery and open spaces.
Book Review: Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul
Elizabeth Farrelly’s new book “Killing Sydney: The Fight For a City’s Soul” is a must-read for anyone with an interest in their local planning issues.
not so normal travel during the pandemic
We took the opportunity to travel to what seemed like a faraway place – Adelaide.
What is the ACT Government’s attitude to good architecture and good landscape design? That’s easy. It does not consider such things important.
All cities have their city square or equivalent.
Back in 2013 plans were announced for the next stage of Canberra’s Constitution Avenue.
Our lust for originality is wrecking the city, delivering a rash of formally new but ultimately anti-urban hideous skyline baubles reducing city-making to a spectacle of super-size billboard branding gestures while inhibiting the multiplication of good ideas. Click here
GANG GANG arrives in Downer
Always good to celebrate when a suburban centre rises again.
Interesting read – but I think they let the architects off too easily. Click here.
About the architecture along Northbourne Avenue
The saga of the proposed Garden Bridge over the Thames in London has been well covered in the UK press. It is indeed a saga. It is about a folly.
Braddon is cool – well not quite yet
Braddon should be cool. I said something similar two years ago.
2017 in Canberra began with announcements that so many new buildings are about to change the city’s landscape.
They have tried before and have failed–but this time they have got their way.
They have tried before and I am sure they will keep trying till they get their way.
For many years tourists regarded Singapore as a stop over to somewhere else. Most spent a night or three but rarely much more.
Now here’s an idea. Should we recognise the worst architecture?
Canberra is usually referred to as being a designed and/or planned city. Continue reading Government Architect – what’s that?
What does it take for the ACT Government to have vision for developments in and around my own suburb of Dickson? I’ll get back to the question.
More on the Australia’s contribution to the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale
City planners allow for all manner of formal spaces when plotting out the municipal aspects of any new township.
Sometimes you do have to wonder about things that come your way. Today I have to report on a media release that was sent around today on a new set of federal awards.
Most people normally go to a speech or presentation expecting to enjoy themselves and possibly to learn something or to be challenged by a set of views put forward. Here’s one presentation that mystifies!
Along with some very pointed questions that were posed at the recent talk at the Albert Hall, there were a couple about the lack of government leadership in emphasizing the value of good design and the importance of architecture.
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.
The decision by the ACT Heritage Council to heritage list 17 of the Northbourne housing precinct does confuse the developments being proposed for the gateway to Canberra.
We start with words from the City of Sydney – that contains all those words that make sensible people run for cover:
The whole of the Barangaroo story is messy. Sydney based architectural writers are not very happy. Yes their chosen few did not get the contract. Yes even the next team did not survive.
There’s a good read online about the ‘ShotGun’ houses of New Orleans.
The ACT Government’s Land Development Agency (LDA) circulated a media release late last week that I think was meant to be good news and was supposed to inform us that something is about to happen along Northbourne Ave.
The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) opened its new wing in 2010 and amongst several key improvements was the realignment of the main front entrance.
Here in Canberra there is a trend for larger urban space jobs for the government project managers to look elsewhere for the designers and consultants. As a result the city has had many design solutions that have not quite worked. We can do a lot better!
Many universities in Australia have campuses with lush landscape settings. Then there are the universities that are very contained inner city urban environments. In Sydney, the University of Technology (UTS) is one of the latter.
Since 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)
I always enjoy a visit to this gallery. It doesn’t matter what special exhibitions are on. There is plenty to see and to engage with.
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.
Wow! Now there’s a revelation from the profession largely responsible for the problem.
It is sad to see that world architecture has continued the trend to have a dominance of the boys in their decision-making – this picture says it all!
I 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.
Architects and their awards have come to my attention for three reasons of late. The first was when Enrico Taglietti was featured in the local paper, The Canberra Times. According to the report one of his significant architectural achievements was being considered for a special award. Click here for the article.
There’s a very thorough article about the combined architectural and developer and government mishandling of the whole ground zero site in New York.
The Solomon Islands High CommissionI 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.
I’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.
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!
photographed late June/early July 2014 – due to open later in 2014
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)
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.
The 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.
It has been a long puzzle of mine as to just what makes an architecture project an award-winning project. I know that it cannot be just who sits on the award jury and who knows who, so it must be something else.
This 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.
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…..
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.
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.
I 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.
Occasionally 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
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.
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
Paul Costigan, 2 April 2014
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.”
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.
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.
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.
The current state of Cultural Reviews and Critical Comment
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.
An exhibition at the Getty in LA on the link between photography and architecture. Check it out and note the partly illustrated check list at the bottom of the page.
I refer to what looks at first as if it is another informative article in the Guardian Australia. Click on the image below. Unfortunately this great online newspaper has been infiltrated.
The author of this piece has not declared a very close interest in the project.
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.
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.