Word on the street (and the AFR) is that Total House has been sold to Riichard Gu and the AXF Group, for $40M. Word is also that it was marketed as a city development site. Quelle horreur.
Here’s the sliced version of the article at AFR.
The building houses an office block (resembling a TV or microwave) which sits astride a carpark. Designed in the early 1960s by Bernard Joyce (1929 – 1994) of Bogle Banfield and Associates, it is home, or has been home to many prominent architects over the decades. Recent tenants include John Wardle, Peter Elliot, BKK, and Shane Murray.
Total House missed out on inclusion in the City of Melbourne’s study last year into 98 unprotected buildings deemed worthy of inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register.
AXF Group has recently been in the news for restarting its rejected proposal for an apartment tower in Box Hill, 33 storeys this time. You can see that golden wonder at The Urbanist.
If demolished, it will join Australia’s first multi-storey carpark, which was just up the street, in carpark heaven.
This Friday is the last chance for women involved (now or in the past) in Australia architecture to complete the first Parlour survey: “Where did the women go”. Go here if you want to tell them.
The Parlour: women, equity, architecture website opened in May at the national conference in Brisbane, and is most definitely worth a careful look through. Justine Clark, Naomi Stead, et al, have assembled a trove of relevant essays and articles by all sorts of people.
In July AIA National President Shelley Penn launched the survey in Melbourne. Her speech, in which she speaks frankly about her own career in architecture, is on the Parlour website here.
Shelley Penn speaking at the Parlour soirée, Melbourne, July 2012. Photo: P. Malatt.
14.08.12 in researchers
2011 rendering, Windsor Hotel with lowered corner building, DCM
Melbourne’s Windsor Hotel redevelopment is back in the news. The owner, Halim Group, was seeking a 12 to 18 month extension to their planning permit, as they were not ready to start construction before the November deadline, set two years ago. Adi Halim received a letter from Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning, on the 18th. It refused an extension.
The November ’10 permit [ PDF ] was issued after an appeal by the owners to maintain the original height of the corner building (on Bourke and Spring Streets). The appeal was unsuccessful, though they were awarded an extra 20 odd centimetres. The stated reason for the appeal was that the entire development was not economically viable unless they could retain the upper two storeys shown in the design originally submitted for approval. Halim didn’t get what they needed but haven’t abandoned the project.
Since then little has been heard, publicly. Press releases on the development’s website ceased in May 2010. Media coverage of the project swung over to a lashing of the former Ministry for Planning. In 2011 The Age reported that the proposal was suffering financing woes. That’s about it…. until now.
Adi Halim, for Halim Group has just written an exclamatory opinion piece in The Age – with the subtitle, “Matthew Guy’s ‘‘bombshell’‘ is clearly aimed at stopping the project.”
“[The Minister for Planning’s] decision left us with three choices: abandon the project, appeal to VCAT and hope for a decision before our permit expires in November, or rush the construction plans to activate the permit.”
Halim group has signalled that the latter option is most likely, otherwise they are back to square one. The resulting redundancies and booking cancellations have the government crying ‘blackmail’. Anyway, DCM could be in for a busy couple of months.
29.07.12 in heritage
Architect / protaganist: Denton Corker Marshall [DCM]
My God, that is appallingly ugly. I forgot how ghastly it was, not having seen anything about this for a couple of years.
by James on 30 July 12 ·#
Former Land Titles Office – fire door
It’s that time of year when dusty old Melbourne buildings fling their doors open for 12 hours of inspection by hoi polloi. This Saturday and Sunday, enter the city with a comfortable pair of shoes and have a good poke around.
Open House Melbourne is now in its fifth year, and has grown again. This year one gadzillion buildings will be open and over 100,000 citizens are expected to attend. This might be off-putting, but I have attended most years and never had to queue for anything. I have avoided the Russell Place substation for this reason though.
The effort by the OHM team has been mighty, once again. As will be this year’s 800 volunteers. Show them a little appreciation and attend.
Having gotten quite lost in their website (the mobile version is easier to navigate), I thought I’d drop some tips here. What I would give for a giant PDF… I have left out the buildings you can wander through anytime, pre-balloted tours, and ones in the ‘burbs.
Buildings I’ve been to which were pretty bloody OK.
Buildings I haven’t been to, but would like to get to…
Batman Kangan TAFE, Docklands
27.07.12 in tours
Another month, another wounded architect. This time, it isn’t due to the recession resentments of Spanish leftists, it’s conservative Washingtonians who want a monument to Dwight Eisenhower that’s lot more conventional than the one proposed by Frank Gehry. They don’t seem to like any of the “isms” of the past century or so. We find out who wins this coming Friday.
The site is a difficult one on Washington’s Independence Avenue. It is one lost between buildings and bisecting roads. The brief is difficult too, and becoming more so. The architect is an old pro from Santa Monica who in 1979 wrapped his house in hurricane mesh, keeping with neighbourhood character. Washingtonians don’t seem to like this history of cheekiness, or ‘irony’, and suspected the worst when he wrapped the entire site in a transparent decorative mesh.
This time it isn’t hurricane mesh, it is more considered. The screen defines the ‘park’ and was a tableau of images lifted from events in Ike’s life. After development this was switched to display trees around Ike’s childhood home in Abilene, Kansas. It solves all the problems with the site in one fell swoop. But the screens continued to present problems – why focus on his childhood and neglect his future feats as general and president? Why use a screen that to the family looked like a concentration camp (Gehry, being Jewish, didn’t take this at all well), and to others it reeked of Gehry’s ‘nihilistic’ architectural attitude.
Memorial in 2010
Bas-reliefs in 2010
83 year old Frank (O.) Gehry’s career has been a fascinating one to watch. Starting out in Canada, then working on humdrum housing in L.A., then a major shift into the screened fortresses of the early ’80s, then another into colourful sculpted forms under the influence of contemporary Claes Oldenburg. In the late Nineties he finally reached the big time with the titanium-shelled Guggenheim in Bilbao, credited with changing that town’s fortunes and, for better or worse, triggering the ‘Bilbao Effect’, felt as far away as Geelong.
The reputation he’s built up for sculpted singular forms, reinforced by Sidney Lumet’s recent movie, masks his skills in shaping external space. To see that, it is necessary to wander about his Loyola Law School on Olympic Boulevard, or his best work in my book, a modest shopping complex near Venice Beach.
But that west coast heritage doesn’t count for much in Washington. A site dedicated to killing off the scheme tries every angle available. From questioning the chosen sculptor’s previous nude work, to detecting a change in national mood, to conveniently supporting the call for an open competition (the original was limited). But the stick is pointed mainly at the architect. The site includes a lengthy page of sound-bites from Gehry, dating back to the 1970s, that are meant to explain to us why he is not of the right moral character to work on this project. But it isn’t just Gehry, it’s his ilk. The National Civic Art Society, which published the website, sees itself as fighting on behalf of traditional counter-culturalists against… “a postmodern, elitist culture that has reduced its works of “art” to a dependence on rarified discourse incomprehensible to ordinary people.” The Washington Post thinks they go even further, mounting a “philosophical attack on the legacy of modernism, post-modernism and anything that smacks of avant-garde art, going all the way back to architects such as Louis Sullivan and Le Corbusier.”
Memorial with sculpture replacing bas-relief photographs
The Eisenhower memorial is being redesigned by a publicly patient Gehry, politely responding to a queue of concerns and protests voiced by committees and descendants. Most recently he has introduced more sculptures of Eisenhower at different stages in his career, and changed the ‘barefoot boy’ sculpture to a young cadet, but has retained the steel backdrop screens. These, the core of his idea along with the barefoot boy, are again under attack. I think he is entitled at some point soon, to blow his own stack. Then the NCAS may get its way, which appears from their recent competition to be something classical and traditional, dwarfed by the surrounding buildings, and sidelined by busy traffic…
Maybe if Gehry had looked at the similar sagas of just about all of Washington’s presidential monuments, he would have kept well away. The Washington monument took 53 years to build, thanks to the pesky interventions of the “Know-Nothings”. The final result, absent the original colonnade, was against architect Robert Mills’ wishes, he thought it would look like a “stalk of asparagus”. Not far off..
[ Much of this information is drawn from an in-depth article by Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post, which can be viewed here, though you’ll need to register (for free) to read it all. ]
Memorial images from Gehry Partners
03.06.12 in architects
Architect / protaganist: Gehry Partners
yes washington seems to have a coterie of believers in classicism – remember the sculpture added to the fantastic Vietnam memorial ? and have you seen the WWII memorial ? Looks like Lutyens designed it, but dates from 2004. Noice.
The only thing I dont like about Gehry’s design is that having a square at all cuts off another chunk of one of L’Enfent’s diagonal roads. Though there’s not much of Maryland Avenue, it does point straight at the done of the Capitol, providing a view-line that would also be gone. So that’s me being a traditionalist !
by rohan on 21 July 12 ·#
[ Old Treasury Building, Melbourne. Gil Meydan ]
A young John James Clark arrived in Melbourne in the early 1850s with his family, emigrating from Liverpool. At the age of 14, he visited the Colonial Architect’s Office with a map of Liverpool he drew for school. He was hired and there began a six decade career in architecture.
Andrew Dodd recently released a book on Clark, based on his PhD. Its launch coincides with an exhibition being held at Clark’s master work, the Old Treasury Building, designed when he was just 19.
Having looked through the newspapers of the time, Dodd was unable to find anything to suggest that anyone thought it odd that such a young man would gain such a commission. He suspected this has something to do with the exodus of skilled professionals from the city to the gold rush up the road. But there was also a different attitude towards youth…
“We were talking about a period when young people were given many more opportunities than they are today.”
To hear an interview with Dodd on By Design, go here
For exhibition details, click here
To purchase Dodd’s book at Readings, click here
For a gob-smackingly impressive list of Clark’s work, click this.
Is this a sign of things to come? As austerity measures dig in, are “los indignados” of Spain wondering about the money that fed a cultural building boom? Where complex buildings were designed by foreign architects, who didn’t seem to know that their hefty fees were being added to the country’s debt.
Santiago Calatrava is in a puddle of a muddle in his home town, Valencia. The fourth-ranked United Left party (Esquerra Unida) has found the architect to be a handy scapegoat as the region nears bankruptcy. On a dedicated website Esquerra Unida lists allegedly corrupt dealings with the Comunidad Valenciana concerning fees for the City of Arts and Sciences. Perhaps they have also targeted Calatrava as both major political parties had a hand in commissioning him, and because his work is monument to that very recent era when a government would happily extend its debt to secure prestigious buildings and events.
The [Popular Party] government denied for years the information on contracts and payments to Calatrava, but the work of the United Esquerra parliamentary group has managed to uncover all the secrets of business of the Swiss architect with the money of the Valencians. Esquerra Unida
Fairfax papers have passed some news along from the Guardian. It trumpets that:“contracts were given to [Calatrava] via an unpublicised negotiating system establishing his payments as a percentage of the final cost of each project, which doubled or tripled’”. Then they reveal that he was paid, “for designing projects that never came to fruition.” The horror.
Santiago Calatrava, architect born in Valencia star but residing in Switzerland, has claimed about 100 million euros from the Generalitat Valenciana, with no IVA or tax paid in Spain. Esquerra Unida
They neglect to mention that Calatrava moved to Switzerland to do his civil engineering degree in 1975, not to evade spanish tax. If Calatrava’s Swiss office had charged IVA (Spain’s GST equivalent), it would have been extra to the fee, and passed back to the government. [ Update: In 2008, Calatrava’s website did mention offices in New York and Valencia – it no longer does. ]
His most emblematic [project] is the City of Arts and Sciences, which has cost over 1,100 million euros and is still unfinished and has various operating problems. Esquerra Unida
Calatrava was signed on in 1991 to a 625M Euro project. The project was inaugurated in 1998, with the final building, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, being opened in 2005. According to The Guardian, the ‘city’ runs at a loss.
“…the costs of reproduction, models, photography, travel, travel and expenses … are billed separately and paid within one month from the filing of the bill.” exclaims El Mundo.
Apparently journalists haven’t heard of disbursements. Or percentage fees… Calatrava initially charged 4.5% of the budgeted cost for architecture and engineering, and 6.5% for “construction management”. In later buildings this was revised to “11% to 12%” of the final cost of construction, highly controversial to El Levante-EMV, which refers to the City of Arts and Sciences as “the crime scene”.
Calatrava is an easy target in a deep recession. His main faults? 1. He left Spain. His Spanish wikipedia page is… er rather negative compared to the English one. 2. He didn’t audit the government, and 3. His buildings don’t come cheap. They are expensive and distinctive, which is what the government of the day wanted, to attract major events and tourism, and build its own pyramids.
Over the last decade, surfing on a property boom, Valencia spent billions hosting the America’s Cup sailing competition and the European Grand Prix motor race, launching Hollywood-style movie studios, and building the biggest aquarium in Europe, a Sydney-style opera house and several museums. Reuters May 1st [ link ]
“The “big events” policy is responsible for 13% of the region’s current debt, which has been estimated at close to 20 billion euros. “Looking beyond the surface of wealth and excess, this superficial economic model made us poorer.” Vincent Soler, Professor of Applied Economics at the Univeristy of Valencia. [ link ]
One of the worrying things about this politically motivated kerfuffle is how it has been reported. Many news services have let these claims about dodgy contracts slip through, without noticing that a normal contract for architectural services looks around about the same. Maybe not for much longer?
14.05.12 in practice
Architect / protaganist: Santiago Calatrava
On Tuesday I snuck in, as a “plus one”, to ACMI’s preview of the new Eames doco, “Eames: The Architect and The Painter”, not sure what to expect. It was long, but it was good. It must have been hard compressing an odd fifty years of career into 83 minutes, and it did feel as though some stretches of time were skipped over. There wasn’t too much of the Sixties, unless I dozed off, which I doubt.
The film seemed to have two main zones of investigation: the complicated creative partnership between Charles and Ray, and their cross-disciplinary practice. Interviews with stylishly ageing Angelinos who used to work in the office are intercut with rare footage and photos of life in the studio. The employees seemed a tolerant lot, mostly seeming quite happy to be ‘exploited’ by a charismatic and ‘proper’ master. This was a studio that apparently never closed, life and work being very much entwined for Mr and Mrs Eames.
Their work too was intertwined and complementary – the Eames’s output stemming (for the most part) from the fusing of two minds – a neglected aspect the film very much wants to promote. The studio’s output was not quite as cross-disciplinary as I had imagined, more a progression from furniture design to a dominant focus on film making and communications, with a famous dabble or two in architecture along the way.
I don’t want to spoil any surprises for those considering attending, so I will keep this short. Go, be surprised and amazed. What I will do is embed some of the footage that the film sampled, some of it newly released by the Eames Office. If you want to see these at the film, just don’t click play!
Possibly the most awkward TV interview I’ve ever seen. It starkly shows the difficulty people had accepting Ray as an equal design partner.
IBM at the Fair. The film of the Eames / Saarinen IBM pavilion at the 1964-5 New York World’s Fair. Hello Koyaanisqatsi?
Many of the following films show an unusual regard for scale, often zooming into macro for a slow pan with a limited depth of field, revealing the intricate detailing of.. a hand, a toy train, anything really. There is a fascination with contraptions and mechanics, the way things go together, and the way people use them. This perhaps even extends into the circus films and the off-the-shelf components of the Eames House.
Powers of Ten, from 1977. A film seeking to engage school children with maths and science, preempting Google Earth?
A leisurely paced eleven minute advertisement introducing the Polaroid SX-70 (1972).
And, of course, the trailer.
13.05.12 in film
This looks too good to miss. RSVP by tomorrow Tuesday if you are in Sydney.
When important new buildings don’t meet the expectations of others in the architectural community, there is usually a lot of grumbling in back street bars, then we try to avoid looking at them. Very rarely do architects break rank to publicly criticise a design. And when they do it too publicly, they can run foul of the institute’s code of conduct and the ‘defamed’ architect. So it is left to the poor reviewers to surreptitiously inject just the right amount of doubt – too much and their article may attract the dreaded “kill fee”.
But the MCA’s new “Mordant Wing”, named after philanthropist Simon Mordant, is a special case. Since 1997, the MCA has not once but twice held limited architectural competitions for extensions to the old museum. One comp was won by Kazuyo Sejima, the other, which Seijima boycotted, by Sauerbruch Hutton. Neither went ahead, much to the embarrassment of just about everyone except the MCA. So the eyes were on Sam Marshall when he eventually gained the commission a few years ago, having worked as the MCA’s master planner for several years. Talk about a poisoned chalice.
Marshall’s blockish design (which I have yet to visit) addresses the MCA’s concerns that the building not be too showy, the art is what it’s about. Coincidentally, the Venice Biennale pavilion proposal by DCM addresses similar concerns voiced by the Australia Council’s Simon Mordant, who is also part-funding that project.
Congratulations to Architect Marshall for fronting up at this debate. Elizabeth Farrelly is also on the panel, which will perhaps add some historic perspective, given her role at the council when the Seijima scheme was “moved to trash”.
Here’s Sam Marshall discussing the MCA’s environmental sustainability recently:
Lastly, a dated butterpaper forum discussion.
30.04.12 in forum
I finally got to the William Kentridge exhibition at ACMI last weekend, with a friend. It closes at the end of May. It is worth every cent. Etchings and drawings of characters in his films take up most of the space. He has a particular way with blotchy skin that reminds me of the late Lucian Freud’s work. The self portraits – William as “Felix” and “Solo” – move about within ghost like bubbles that remind me a bit of one of Freud’s models, Sunshine boy Leigh Bowery.
So the traditional hung paintings sat well in the gallery, with lots of room to pace about and stand back without getting in anyone’s way. The film spaces were such a let down in contrast. My memory fails me as to whether it has always been like this. Perhaps it was just the volume of people highlighting the deficiencies.
[ACMI Flinders Street level – the main entrance has been relabelled Video Garden..? MORE PLANS]
Some suggestions we came up with afterwards, for those lucky enough to be designing such space, and their exhibitions.
[ Lucian Freud’s portraits are currently on exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London ]
10.04.12 in galleries
Denton Corker Marshall have won the limited competition for the Australian Venice Biennale Pavilion. There is a fair bit about that competition within these pages. Myself and about 750 architects protested against its conditions, which basically limited it to larger companies with overseas experience and experience in similar buildings. This wasn’t to be a pavilion that would take any risks.
In June, the commissioner for the Australian 2013 Venice Art Biennale, Simon Mordant, announced the competition and antagonised the nation’s architects by stating, “This is an art space. It’s not an architectural competition … We need a functional exhibition space that works for the artist and complies with the Venetian authorities’ requirements. And that’s going to be something that’s far more modest.” Mr Mordant is also donating $1M towards the $6M construction budget.
Denton Corker Marshall have read the writing on the wall, designing a stealthful black box that sucks in the light. It is not reflective, and doesn’t want to be anything other than the container Mordant asked for. This appears to be a building trying to disappear, in a terribly elegant way. Whether that’s the right thing to be doing in the canal-side backlot of a garden full of expressive national pavilions, is debatable.
Upon entry into the black box, one will enter a white box. The architects say that they have, “avoided imposing a mannered architectural ‘event’ on the artworks displayed within, rather creating a container on and in which ideas can be explored where the container in no way competes with those ideas.” It could be seen as the polar opposite of Sverre Fehn’s Scandanavian pavilion, also chosen at a limited competition. That building provides a platform to be filled, opening out in two directions to the gardens. That building is beautiful and very obvious, but, like Mies’ National Gallery in Berlin, it is a hard one to hang paintings in. DCM’s building borrows more from the numerous older pavilions decked out in generic neoclassical garb, and housing plain white rooms with four sides.
The DCM building can be read as a discrete and perfect box for the architecture-averse Australia Council. Even the architects say it was conceived as an object rather than a building. But it can also be read as a protest against the silencing of Australian architects, a darker and angrier statement about the state of things. Perhaps a black armband was just what we needed.
Denton Corker Marshall is becoming quite adept at invisible buildings. In 2009 they designed the building that no one wanted, but everyone needed – The Stonehange Visitors Centre. At the time, London director Stephen Quinlan hoped that, “if a visitor can remember their visit to the stones but can’t remember the visitor centre they passed through, we will be happy.”
04.04.12 in competitions
Architect / protaganist: Denton Corker Marshall [DCM]
Congratulations to the boys at DCM. A development of their Di Stasio competition entry. Who needs a new idea every Monday morning. Good pencil graphics. Barrie Marshall is still the best delieator to have come out of Springvale. I particularly liked the barge view on the Bacino, an appropriate nod to Aldo Rossi. Not fast enough for my taste though.
by David White on 4 April 12 ·#
That should be “delineator”.
by David White on 4 April 12 ·#
That’s almost as interesting as Seans’s bar fridge. I suppose it’s a fair comment on Australia’s relevance… Heatherwick was lying through his teeth, but it doesn’t hurt.
by WOFTAM on 7 April 12 ·#
pg 480-481 Content. R. Koolhaas.
by info on 7 April 12 ·#
This morning’s Background Briefing on RN examined the flaws in home energy rating systems. The show was unsurprising: they found many houses with low ratings and high performance, and vice versa. No prizes for guessing that architect-designed green homes suffered in the ratings department for not under-glazing, and not air-conditioning. The software wasn’t designed to be used like this and it encourages a conformity of design that suits standard project homes. From my experience, it is a bit of a lottery what the software will think of a custom-designed house.
Paraphrasing Adelaide architect John Maitland in the documentary, the system isn’t good but it’s better than nothing – at least it is pushing the industry along. Maitland designed a house in the early 2000s at Aldinga. An outer skin shields the building fabric from western sun, and a small in-line fan shunts hot air from the mezzanine back downstairs. Both of these are apparently too much for the software to handle. Despite not needing any active heating or cooling (which the software assumes you will have), the house has been rated 4.3, so would be unbuildable today. Its real performance, gauged from energy spend, is closer to 8.0.
This fitting of square pegs into round holes been something architects have grumbled about for years. But now the federal government is planning to extend the rating system to old houses, penalising houses like the one at Aldinga, and thousands more. News is just in that the government has backed off setting dates for the roll-out.
01.04.12 in sustainability
It was my first journey into the 26 year old Dulux colour awards. This is one of several industry awards in architecture, and this one now covers New Zealand also, so it was a big event. I have to admit the main reason I went along was that it was in the Regent Theatre, which I had never ventured into before, musicals not being my thing. The basement ballroom is a hidden Melbourne treasure, giant in scale, yet detailed to the umpteenth degree in 1920s exoticist splendour. Hundreds of ceiling panels, each individually painted. A late nod to the Marriner Group for bringing this beauty back from rat-infestedness.
The awards were dominated by the colour green. More of a lime green. It is everywhere, and is usually justified by the proximity of trees. Winners were chosen from an intensive six hour session held in the theatre yesterday where judges including Peter Maddison and Jeff Fearon argued over photographs.
The major winner of the night was the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, which picked up the major gong as well as a few smaller awards. They built a palette for the project which included hundreds of colours, many of them green, and it looks damn good for it. Colours were built into the project concept, as the lead architect at Billard Leece / Bates Smart said, colours were a, “strategy for getting through a massive and gruelling project”. Meaning that if the colours were governed by an overarching scheme, department heads couldn’t stymie colour selections because they didn’t like yellow/ green/ purple. The close runner up for appearances on stage went to MGS for their Drill Hall project, also in Melbourne, and also in green.
The audience favourite was possibly a bridge in an arts precinct on the Derwent River near Hobart. It is part of the Glenorchy Arts and Sculpture Park. The palette for the vertical slats stretched the full height of Room 11’s poster. It may be time for another trip down that way. Here are some phone pics snapped on the night:
And here are some slightly more professional shots..
28.03.12 in awards
[image by nkzs]
It’s been a slow start to the year at butterpaper.com. Sorry about that, if you’d noticed. There have been two main reasons.
1. The Butter Paper architecture and web office is about twice as busy as it was a year ago. Given the gloom forecast, I had taken on some enjoyable yet demanding tutoring work at Victoria University this semester. So time for this website has been in short supply.
2. OK this is a long one. The web has changed, again. I have taken a step back to work out what this site can be in the future. Back when this site began in 2000, the backbones were the directories, and its news coverage. It was one of about two websites reporting on Australasian architecture. I would type summaries of print publications, with links where available. This is now known as micro-blogging and there are several hundred others covering the same territory on twitter and facebook. Everyone is a micro-blogger.
I deleted the trade library in 2003 as by that time there were far better-resourced sites in competition. The forum, like many others, started to die off about three years ago as Facebook and Twitter encroached into that territory. I think the quality of online discussion has deteriorated since then, but there ain’t much I can do about it. The events section takes a lot of time to maintain, and there are now several commercial sites doing exactly the same thing, so I’m becoming weary of that too. The choice became: do I continue throwing time into elements and aspects of the site that are becoming obsolete, or do I concentrate on the things that can’t be copied?
I have decided to: – find ways for people to directly add items like events and notices, perhaps through a delicious tag or a login (which is rather tricky using the current software). – do something similar for the architects’ directory, which is way smaller than it should be. – spend the bulk of my time working on longer posts examining the back stories of some of the news items that fly past us at a rate of knots. I like doing that and it can’t be copied. But it does take time, I have had some in the works for months. These will be promoted via twitter and facebook when they go online.
As always, thoughts are most welcome. So they we are… welcome back to Butterpaper v.2012.
[image source stanford.edu]
25.03.12 in random-debris
Hyundai Australia has just published an e-book covering their six blogger-lead tours around Sydney and Melbourne in August last year. I was one of them, and get a double page spread, thankfully with no mugshot. They seemed to like the Ashton Raggat McDougall buildings I showed them the most. Click the image below to view the book.
Hyundai have launched an associated competition only being promoted through these six blogs – so your chances are quite high to snaffle $5k to put towards your “design dream”.
[ NOTE Hyundai Australia has been a butterpaper.com sponsor ]
25.03.12 in books
Coming up on the telly on the 28th at 10pm – an ABC documentary about the work and ways of McBride Charles Ryan.
“This intimate documentary observes the pressures of building a multi-story, twin-tower development and a revolutionary new school, in the shape of an infinity symbol, alongside the construction and design of their new family home. It follows Rob and Debbie as they prepare their pitch to win the contract to design and construct a prestigious new billion-dollar building that will be the biggest cancer care centre in the Southern Hemisphere. “
22.02.12 in films
Architect / protaganist: McBride Charles Ryan
Awesome Peter, thanks for the tip !
by Sean on 27 February 12 ·#
The National Mutual tower in Collins Street (Godfrey & Spowers, Hughes, Mewton and Lobb) lost a marble facade tile today, clearing the plaza 10 storeys below. The Age has more, mistakenly referring to a fallen ‘concrete slab’, a scary thought.
30.01.12 in buildings
Yes marble a little friendlier than conc. but same effect. Funny how no-one recognises marble unless its a counter top. Not popular for building facades for a long time (except perhaps for despotic regimes). This has revealed to me (by rumours and net sleuthing) that the owners have a permit to fill in the plaza with a ten storey block, lower on the edges, thus eliminating the open space ! Lots of cafes / shops at ground level though. Buchans. Shocked that powers that be think losing the open space is ok, though admittedly its never been very user friendly – but it could easily be done over without an actual new office block.
by rohan on 1 February 12 ·#
What an amazing facade.
by crazy over skyscrapers on 3 February 12 ·#
This is a significant modernist building that continues to hold historic resonance: See listing: http://bit.ly/xVVwo3
by nevillek on 12 February 12 ·#
Just went past – some scaffolding up on west side and marble being removed. Guess photo now or never !
by rohan on 20 February 12 ·#
On Tuesday night an ABC article popped up announcing that Troppo and another unnamed firm have completed their new town design in the Northern Territory. To house 50,000, Weddell is to be built about 40 kilometres from Darwin.
The population of Greater Darwin and Palmerston is currently 133,000, and this is expected to increase to 171,000 by 2030. They intend for most of this growth to happen in Palmerston (built in the 1980s) and in the new city of Weddell. Due to the expansion of Southern satellite cities and suburbs, they calculate that the population centre of Greater Darwin will in fact be 12km out of Darwin by 2030. Weddell will be as close to this point as Darwin.
A Troppo-designed house for Weddell
Weddell is being branded heavily by the Territory government as a Sustainable City. They have a document [ PDF ] explaining what they hope to achieve. Emphasis being on ‘hope’ as all the sustainability initiatives have question marks next to them. Given the sprawling nature of the new Greater Darwin, and the lack of commuter rail, you’d have to raise your eyebrows at the hope of having 20% of the population getting around on bicycles and public transport by 2030. Maybe they’ll all become triathletes. The long distance railway station is a 20km drive from the CBD – but at least it runs through Weddell.
In this document, they cite, “reducing car dependency by creating a compact city” as being the first in the list of trait that define a sustainable city. They have taken the liberty of applying this condition to Weddell itself, rather than to Greater Darwin.
“In Weddell, the following practices will be important to drive transport decisions: creating a self-contained, compact city that avoids the need for commuting to work and provides local services and facilities…”
Their hopes are that (with a question marks next to them): “80% of trips by Weddell residents are within Weddell by 2030… [and] a minimum of one person per household is employed locally in Weddell”. To get this rolling they are thinking of establishing a “hub of excellence for sustainability training”, local business clusters based on the horticultural industry, and a virtual office hub. And yet there are only eight small blocks labelled commercial along the “Village Square”.
It will be interesting to see the plans develop, if the government is serious about all its aspirations, and if Troppo really do get to design all the buildings. If it comes to pass that these aspirations vaporise once the town is built, and the project home builders have their way, then Weddell will be yet another dormitory suburb in eco city clothing.
Darwin’s Mayor Graeme Sawyer is pessimistic about the plans, saying in 2010 that, “Weddell is an absolute nightmare and shouldn’t happen… If you look at all of those criteria around public transport, around energy efficiency, around travel time, around all of those sorts of things, probably if you set up a matrix and ticked off those things against Weddell you probably wouldn’t build it.”
Just for interests sake, here are same-scaled Google maps of Greater Darwin (133,000), Melbourne (4M), and Auckland (1.5M). Despite being destined to sprawl, Darwin can at least take heart that it is Australia’s most Sustainable City, according to the ACF. This appears largely due to high rankings for air quality, employment, and biodiversity.
Weddell is on the lower right.
An exhibition of the proposed design is currently on at the Art Gallery, Chancellery Building, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin until December 16th (10am to 3pm).
“Trapped in an Elevator” is possibly one of the dullest documentaries I’ve ever endured, but it may be of interest to lift buffs out there. I guess it proves that lifts are about as boring as they look. The doco scoots quickly over the much more dramatic elevator stories of the 19th Century, preferring to focus on an office worker’s worrying weekend stuck in a lift in Manhattan. There is a sneak peak at the up and coming magnetic elevators, which are starting to become necessary as cables are just getting too long in the new super tall skyscrapers.
“So what’s up with elevators?” Narrator
To add to the excitement, the TV edit is a mess, with black spots and six minutes repeated. The video expires December 7th, Australia only.
30.11.11 in video-clips
The Australia Council yesterday announced its shortlist for the Venice pavilion competition. As expected, they are playing it safe, with just a couple of smallish practices. Given the level of discontent surrounding the competition, it’s surprising and provocative of them to play it this safe. It’s the competition you have when you’re not having a competition. All blokes who graduated before 1986, so a total lack of Gen X, Y or Z, or XX chromosomes. Of the 67 expressions of interest, the jury of five chose:
I’m sure any of them would do a fine job, but so would many lesser knowns, if given the chance. Rose Hiscock of the Australia Council describes the conservative assessment of the first round entries:
We received 67 Expressions of Interest (EOI) as part of the first stage of the selection process – an open call to all Australian architects for credentials. From this, a panel selected six practices on their demonstrated capability, suitability, experience and skills to undertake this project,”
The big firms with capability coming out their ears, and the architects with decades of experience naturally float to the top. Brian Zulaikha, the sole architect on a jury of arts administrators, discussed the weeding down process:
“There was an incredibly diverse range of interest, from sole practitioners to large Australian architectural organisations, and the selection of a shortlist was difficult. We believe we have chosen a truly talented group of firms which represents a breadth of architectural excellence.”
Perhaps more revealing is a response to a question from the first round.
Q: We have not undertaken a project off-shore. Would this eliminate us from consideration at this stage?
A: Respondents are requested to demonstrate their experience in areas such as projects in an off-shore location as one of the criteria that will help demonstrate suitability and capability for this project. It is envisaged that the EOI stage will be a very competitive selection process, so whilst this is not the only criteria in assessment of suitability and capability ( see Part A Section 1.4) it will be included in the panel’s decision making process.
When I put that through Google Translate it says, “You can try, but you’d be lucky.”
24.11.11 in buildings
as usual your missing the real story.
by info on 24 November 11 ·#
At least I can spell. I did hear a rumour, but I try to keep closer to fact.
by peter on 24 November 11 ·#
looks like a who’s who of the pensioners club.
some of them are even too old to drive anymore.
by cabbie on 25 November 11 ·#
Why anyone would bother to enter this without being one of the ‘top’ established architects at the moment I have no idea – it was always going to be a waste of time for everyone else. Wonder what the Flinders St Comp holds in store for us…?
by STARCHITECT on 25 November 11 ·#
great! venice pavilion yawner to gen x whinger.
i ‘d take the borarchitect list over the up and coming gen y tossers like super colostomy et al any day. playing safe just avoids a demonstration of how threadbare and overated local design is – then again it would have been good to see how crap you neutered deadbeats are if you were given a chance.
by sod on 26 November 11 ·#
Gen y love going on the bottom for a bit of the old nepotist in out.
by japanese cricket tragic on 26 November 11 ·#
Are denton corker or marshall still alive?
by shorn on 30 November 11 ·#
Last word from s. mordant’s missus on mexico’s X Y & Zs.
…. she’s got a point?
by info on 30 November 11 ·#