Meet AAA Vice President Ben Gerstel

1902 f0

ME, CASTLECRAG AND THE AAA
By Ben Gerstel

As an architect and resident of Castlecrag, I feel I am very lucky. This luck is three fold for the following reasons, I live in the suburb, I am an architect and I am surrounded by domestic architecture which I love.

To give an example of the wealth of domestic architecture in Castlecrag, we have Burley Griffin and Eric Nicholls houses, houses by Harry Seidler, Philip Cox, Allen Jack and Cottier, Peter Muller, Bill Lucas, Bruce Rickard, Alex Popov, Virginia Kerridge, Hugh Buhrich, Theodore Fry, Hugo Stossel, Arthur Baldwinson, Neville Gruzman, Robert McClurcan, Gordon M Jenkins and Engelen and Moore to name a few. Castlecrag is soon to have new houses by Marsh Cashman Kooloos and Koichi Tadaka.

There are lots of other architect designed houses but these have to be researched at Willoughby City Council.

I grew up in Castlecove, so I have not moved very far from home. As a child, I loved this suburb for all the red textured brick 1960’s houses with massing at obtuse angles. These houses had wild designed balustrades and garage doors. . Little did I realise that these houses may not of been designed by an architect!

I am sure with these houses and my Lego blocks (not in kit form) were my inspiration to become an architect, but let’s not mention receiving a book on Frank Lloyd Wright at the age of 13

When I started my practice, I introduced myself to the local real estate agents with the view that when people buy a house in the suburb, may want a local architect, me! This happened. These are clients who I would never had otherwise.

I also joined Archicentre, an organisation (no longer in NSW, pity) that connected registered architects with people looking for an architect in their area. One of my first projects was to renovate one of these Castlecove 1960’s houses. It was an experience. I loved it but also very challenging being at the beginning of my solo career.

Unfortunately Castlecove is being gentrified like lots of other Sydney suburbs. Houses are being knocked down, renovated or replaced with project homes. We have lost these wonderful time pieces of architectural domestic history. Unfortunately this happened to my family home.

Another source of learning about the houses in Castlecrag is I write a column for a local periodical called The Crag, which is produced by the Castlecrag Progress Association. There are four issues a year and I started writing in 2010. I was asked to write about one house located in Castlecrag for each issue. This has allowed my into some fantastic houses which I would never of seen otherwise.

Through my walks in the suburb for the association (AAA Castlecrag Walks 1 and 2), these have also opened some doors again to houses which I never would of seen either and this makes these walks special for the attendees.

As a local resident, I get to know a lot of the residents who live here and from them, I hear what is happening in the suburb. Which houses are being demolished and who is the architect. This is how I keep my finger on the pulse.

Since becoming an architect, I have learnt of all the other wonderful architect designed houses in the surrounding suburbs of Middle Cove and Northbridge. From this knowledge I have developed these walks for the AAA.

JOIN ONE OF BEN GERSTEL'S TOURS

Want to experience a AAA Castlecrag Walk? Join the next tour in March.

TOUR DETAILS

Location: Quadrangle Shopping Village, 100 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag NSW 2068
Date: Saturday 9 March 2019
Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Tickets: $30 (Public) / $25 (Concession) / Free (AAA
Members)

Numbers are limited. Click here - to secure your place on the tour.

  • Article: Ben Gerstel
  • Image: Ben Gerstel with tour group attendees on the Castlecrag Walk.
  • Photographer: Annette Dearing

In Review: AAA Chippendale Walk

1902 e0

A CHIPPENDALE OFF THE OLD BLOCK
By Deborah Singerman

One of the AAA’s newest city walks is around one of the oldest, but most radically revamped, areas of Sydney. While Chippendale’s history featured in the tour lead by interior design and fabric expert Michelle Maras, the revitalised industrial architecture is more than matched by the residential and foodie haven now within the Frasers Property-redeveloped former Carlton & United Brewery site, bordered by Broadway and Abercrombie Streets, close to Central Station.

Our meanderings on a pleasant Saturday morning in November showed off Chippendale’s new glory from its laneways, spearheaded by Kensington Street, apartments with plant-filled facades, an upmarket shopping centre and unique museum to alleyways of food stalls, an idiosyncratic hotel and central public parkland. 

We met AAA Volunteer Tour Leader Maras under the prominent yellow halo in the heart of Central Park. After years of living in London and Paris, Maras is entranced by cities and welcomes the chance to take people around the byways and vantage points of this variegated precinct. 

Despite its shape, the splendid sculptural circle does not have a spiritual connection, but something much more prosaic – it represents the arm that spun the hops and other ingredients for the beers brewed at the old Kent Brewery. 

As well as acknowledging the past, Tzannes Associates’ master plan looked to the future. It included a trigeneration plant, with its use of natural gas to produce low-emission electricity and thermal energy. hot water, cooling and electricity for the buildings in Central Park. 

A zinc-like cloak drapes the cooling towers while the raw stainless steel, pipes, which plug into the cooling towers from the ground, are a rugged reminder of what the plant is doing.

We learn about Tooth and Co, founded by 1830s arrival John Tooth, and brewery owner from 1835 until 1985. KB Lager was a favourite. Maras mentions staff benefits offered by the company, such as free beer (though drunkenness was a distinct no-no). 

The Identifiable atmosphere of the area owes much to the network of laneways with their workers’ cottages and filigree iron balconies. The aptly named Spice Alley street stalls, South-East Asia reincarnate, has lanterns, tables and stools, as well as a growing list of restaurants. 

It also has a fine example of adaptive/reuse (from award-winning Tonkin Zulaikha Greer). In the Old Clare Hotel, which is named after the owner's birthplace in County Clare, Ireland. The 1930s Carlton United Brewery Administration Building and the County Clare Hotel join together while also enclosing a former laneway The resulting mix of hotel rooms and suites, restaurant, a sweeping curved bar, and what they call a laneway foyer, has a surprising array of original artefacts and household items including old dentist chairs, and is unafraid to leave aspects of the building fabric open and unpolished 

We also navigated the much-venerated One Central Park, the most vegetated high-rise in Sydney. Ateliers Jean Nouvel's 5-star green rated building (with collaborating architect PTW) is invigorated by Patrick Blanc’s hydroponic, vertical gardens, some 35,000 plants, soil-less, grown in planter boxes, with their own irrigation systems. We stare at the wall of plants within Central Park and on the Broadway street front, admiring the clusters of different plant species, even if we don’t know their names. 

Different patterns grace the building opposite, the University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, whose aluminium screen represents the Os and 1s of the binary system. Then there is the dramatic heliostat, a cantilever of motorised and mirrored panels that capture sunlight and reflect it back to the shopping centre atrium and landscaped terraces. 

Spreading our wings, we see Judith Neilson’s White Rabbit Gallery, a substantial exhibition space from a former Rolls-Royce service depot, which houses a collection of contemporary Chinese art and a much-loved tea house. Her latest philanthropic venture is a commitment to a $100 million independent Institute for Journalism & Ideas, also to be based in Chippendale. 

We also stop at Neilson’s home, Indigo Slam, which won the 2016 AIA Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) and is designed by Smart Design. The name is cleverly inscribed in the corten steel front gate, and an official product description aptly describes its monumental presence: “The curves and creases of the concrete façade fold, open or close, concealing and revealing, to create privacy, open to the light, form a balcony or maintain outlook as the rooms demand.”

1902 e2

The distinctive architecture (harking back to 13th century Venetian Gothic) of Mortuary Station on nearby Regent Street sets a completely different mood as we contemplate the journey from this city end of the railway service, begun in 1867, that picked up coffins and mourners on Regent Street en-route to Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney’s west. 

The AAA walk, you could say, touches all bases.

JOIN THE CHIPPENDALE WALK

Experience the architecture of this fascinating inner city suburb by joining the next AAA Chippendale Walk.

TOUR DETAILS:

Meeting Point: The Halo Sculpture, Chippendale Green, O'Connor Street, Chippendale NSW 2008
Date: Saturday 16 February 2019
Time: 10.00am - 11.30am
Tickets: $30 (Public) / $25 (Concession) / Free (AAA Company Members)

Hurry tickets will sell out fast, so book now!

Click here to secure your place on the tour.

1902 e1

ABOUT DEBORAH SINGERMAN

AAA Volunteer Deborah Singerman is a writer and editor, with extensive experience interviewing people, researching stories, finding angles and then disseminating the information for different readerships.

She offers professional writing and editing services for articles with content that can be adapted for websites, blogs, magazines and university journals.

Check out her website at: https://www.deborahsingerman.com.au/

  • Article: Deborah Singerman
  • Image 1: AAA Chippendale Walk tour group - developed by AAA Volunteer and Registered Architect Ben Gerstel (pictured).
  • Image 2: Mortuary Station (Regent Street Railway Station) - designed by Government Architect James Barnet
  • Image 3: One Central Park - designed by French Architect Jean Nouvel in collaboration with French botanical artist Patrick Blanc.
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens

In Focus: AAA Woollahra Walk

1902 d0

Explore the architecture of Woollahra on the AAA Woollahra Walk - Saturday 9 February.

Wandering through leafy streets laid down upon lands once inhabited by first nation peoples the Cadigal clan - tour participants will discover some of the numerous architect designed residences located in the area.

AAA volunteer tour guide and registered architect Ben Gerstel, will facilitate your experience of both exceptional and controversial buildings of the early to late twentieth century and how design has evolved within the area into the twenty-first century.

Featured on the tour are designs by well known Australian architects such as Don Gazzard, Neville Gruzman, Glen Murcutt and Alex Tzannes, as well as gems designed by less recognised architects.

TOUR DETAILS:

Meeting Point: Phoenix Hotel (outside front entrance), 1 Moncur Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
Date: Saturday 9 February 2019
Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Tickets: $30 (Public) / $25 (Concession) / Free (AAA Company Members)

Don't miss out on joining the tour. Click here and book now!

1902 d1

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image 1: Woollahra House 11, designed by Grove Architects
  • Image 2: Littlemore House, by Glenn Murcutt
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

1712 a0

The Australian Architecture Association would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

We have had another eventful year and remain committed to increasing the public’s awareness and appreciation of architecture.  In 2018 we added 2 new walks to our tour programme, one in Ultimo and one in Chippendale. Look out for these tours in 2019. 

The AAA would like to thank our financial supporters, Natspec and Universal Publications, as well as the architects, designers and clients who have kindly opened their homes this year.  To everyone who donated to our annual fundraising campaign, your support ensures that we can continue to help people understand the value of architecture and how it shapes our cities.

A very big thank you to our AAA volunteers, who are the backbone of the Australian Architecture Association and committed to sharing architecture with the general public.

Best wishes and look forward to seeing you on one of our tours in 2019.

Memorable AAA Residential Tour

1812a1

What a memorable and wonderful last residential bus tour held on 8th December, an amazing finish to 2018.  We visited four very different residential projects from Balmain to Manly and attendees were given the opportunity to see and hear first-hand about the design process from the architects and designers.  Of course, the day wouldn’t be as successful without the delicious lunch at Marthas where we share good food, stories with like-minded people and the architects.

Thanks to MM + J Architects, Carter Williamson Architects, Anderson Architecture and Ben Gerstel Architecture for participating and adding to the success of the day.  

1812a2 

1812a3

1812a4

 

  • Article: Annette Dearing
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens