Archive 2012

Sanctuary Magazine Subscription Discount

1212e1Eco-architect Ken Yeang has inspired many with his vision for more sustainable cities. But you don’t need to venture overseas to find examples of leading sustainable home design.

Sanctuary: modern green homes magazine profiles Australian and New Zealand sustainable house design. Until 21 December 2012, they’re offering friends of the Australian Architecture Association 10% off subscriptions – that’s four issues for just $32.40!

Each quarter, Sanctuary profiles the work of Australia’s leading environmental architects and designers, providing inspiration and practical solutions for a sustainable home. In Sanctuary you’ll find beautiful and sustainable houses that don’t compromise on design, as well as tips and advice about how you can make your house healthier, more comfortable, and more energy and water efficient.

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An insight into the MCA Extension


As a part of the Sydney Architecture Festival, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) hosted a free panel discussion 'MCA Re-build'. Held on the evening of Thursday 1 November, the panel comprised architect Sam Marshall, MCA Curator Rachel Kent, artist Julie-Anne Long and was moderated by the MCA Head of Creative Learning Heather Whitely Robertson.

Almost a decade ago, Sydney architect Sam Marshall was awarded the task of creating a masterplan, designing and overseeing the remodelling of the existing MCA premises and development of a new extension. The official MCA opening weekend was held over the 29 March to 1 April and since this time over 500,000 curious members of the public and contemporary art enthusiasts have passed through it's doors.

The discussion provided a fascinating insight into the various aspects involved in the design and operation of an arts institution. Participants of the talk were treated to a broad overview of how the building addresses a variety of competing agendas that encompass aesthetics, operations, education and financial viability.

Sam Marshall began the discussion by outlining the some of the key criteria he used in the design of spaces:
1. Access to the building and it's spaces must be equitable and easy to circulate.
2. Gallery spaces must be flexible.
3. Spaces must be provided to host events and generate revenue.
4. Spaces and technological systems must be provided to facilitate both exhibitions and educational programs.
5. The buildings form should reflect it's status and function as a contemporary art space.


MCA Curator Rachel Kent then discussed the practicalities of exhibiting artworks and how this informed the brief given to Sam Marshall. She discussed how museums require:
1. Easy to navigate circulation through spaces.
2. Straight walls.
3. The ability to control light.
4. The need for neutral spaces that provide flexibility.
5. The need for these spaces to be conducive to both two dimensional and three dimensional works.
6. Most importantly the spaces need to feel welcoming.


Heather Whitely Robertson introduced the topic of 'live art', dissolving the boundaries between inside and outside. During this discussion led by artist Julie-Anne Long, the issue of circulation and how space is perceived was explored. Sam outlined how he wanted the interiors of the gallery to be perceived from the exteriors. Julie-Anne explained how her performance of the art piece Val, The Invisible would at times be visible to the street front and drawer curious observers. She also explained how she liked the ability to blur distinctions between 'gallery space' and 'public space' within the building. Rachel explained how from a curatorial aspect it was important to be able to filter out into the public spaces within the building, as well as outside the building.

The panel discussion ended with a Q&A session with talk participants asking questions about features of the building and materials used in the building. We learnt about the practicalities of the backstage operations and how it had a tangible effect on the physical form of the building. We also discovered how sustainable systems have been employed in the design of the building.

An interesting question posed to the panel was, 'what were their favourite spaces?'.

Julie-Anne felt that a great space was one in which the building was accessible to the human scale, that promotes an awareness of what surrounds oneself.

For Rachel, great architecture is defined by a sense of intimacy and simplicity both inside and out. She described her favourite gallery, The Beyeler Foundation Museum designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Sam explained how he felt great architecture is one that works on the emotions of the building user, is uplifting and has a sense of connection to light and the surrounding environment. He mentioned the buildings, the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by German architect Mies van der Rohe; the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, designed by French architect and artist Le Corbusier; the Nordic Pavilion in Venice, designed by Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn; and the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, designed by American architect Steven Holl.

The audience was then invited to contribute their own ideas about what constitutes great space and their own personal buildings and spaces.

Overall the evening was a wonderful opportunity to hear the personal views of people involved in different aspects of the MCA's design and operations. Participants of the talk left with the impression that this is a building where the needs and expectations of the various users have been met through considered design, open communication and collaboration.

The MCA has a great program of exhibitions and events. To find out the latest news check out their website and sign up for their e-Newletter.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Images: Vanessa Couzens & Vincent Lam

Twilight Walk - Special Christmas offer ticket reduced by 50%


Don't miss out on the final Twilight walk for 2012 on Wednesday 5th December, departing from Customs House, Circular Quay at 6pm.

Enjoy a guided walking tour of Sydney's CBD in the evening light with a AAA trained volunteer who will share their passion and knowledge of some of the city's most important buildings. Learn about why 1 Bligh is one of the newest 6 Star Green rated buildings in Sydney by the German architect Christoph Ingenhoven and the Australian firm Architectus.

Price $15, book here.

Northern Suburbs Residential Bus Tour

It was a truly nice Spring day on 13 October when we had our Northern Suburbs Residential Bus Tour.  The tour was fully booked and there were quite a number of names on a waiting list, however, the number of seats on the bus was limited and we could not take in any more passengers.


Our bus started from Circular Quay and headed north towards Seaforth.  The first stop was the Delaney House designed by Jorge Hrdina.  With the use of sandstone and hardwood, the house blended in very well with the environment.  Jorge explained how he captured the water view with his arrangement of rooms along this long site and how he arrived at the layout with the complete separation of the parent's floor and the children's floor by the living spaces.

(Visit the architect's website for more photos)


The next stop of our tour was a renovated semi in Fairlight.  The owner-architects Luisa and David greeted us into their home with great hospitality.  In 2005, they met through volunteering for the AAA, fell in love and got married a couple of years later. They now run their practice Manfredini McCrae Architects from their home.  Luisa talked about the design process and how they converted the ageing, run-down semi into a contemporary two-storey home + office.  David told us that they have been very cost-conscious during the design and contruction process.  The end result proves that great designs can be achieved by good architects at many different cost-points.

(This house and our tour was featured on the Manly Daily, read here)


We then arrived at the Smith Residence in Cremorne, designed by David Boyle.  The original Federation house was the childhood home for the client, who now has his own family with children.  David decided to remove the undesirable additions such as the garage and the rear extension.  A new living pavilion is added to the back while creating a new courtyard between it and the existing bedroom.  The  pavilion is an exploration of the relationship between house and garden, the form was sculpted to respond to the mature Jacaranda tree in the backyard.

(Visit the architect's website for more information & photos)


As usual, our residential bus tour includes a great lunch close to the places we visit.  This time we chose Martha's in Castlecrag.  Our President, Tone Wheeler joined us there to meet and thank our members and supporters.  After enjoying a delicious two-course lunch, we were all excited to continue our journey for the day!


After a short bus ride, we arrived at this home in Castlecrag designed by Smyth & Smyth.  David Smyth explained his design to us under the dramatic entry canopy and then showed us through the waterfront house on a relatively wide site.   Almost every room was drenched in the beauty of Middle Harbour.  The study was an interesting exception.  It retreated from the breathtaking view and focused at the serene quality of a small lawn.  At the rear, we walked down the terraced landscaping to the infinity pool visually connected with the harbour.


We then headed towards Lane Cove and visited the Woodford Bay House designed by MacCormick & Associates Architects. Michael MacCormick told us about the steep descent of the site and how he used voids and sculptural staircases to reduce the perceived level changes in this 4-storey house.  The use of light coloured timber and stone made the rooms bright and airy, while the various details utilising light fittings further enhanced the lightness of the home.

(Visit the architect's website for more information and photos)

After enjoying a full day of great residential architecture, our bus dropped everyone off at around 5:30pm back at where we started.

If you have missed out on this tour, make sure you stay subscribed to our e-newsletter to be amongst the first to know about such exciting residential bus tours in the new year!


  • Article by: Vincent Lam
  • Professional architectural photos supplied by the architects, Photos of the tour by Vincent Lam


AAA Educational Fund Postcards - A Great Christmas Gift


The Christmas season is fast approaching and it is time once again, to start looking for gifts for all your loved ones. The AAA limited edition, boxed set of architect cards, is the perfect gift for the architectural enthusiasts in your life.

With 24 cards of varying sizes printed with drawings by 23 of Australia’s most loved Architects, such as Glenn Murcutt and Harry Seidler, this is the perfect gift for Christmas or a birthday. (The cards also look great arranged and framed for display on the wall).

These cards are now available for online order for $75, while AAA members enjoy a special price of $60 including postage (NB: Australia only / see overseas costs when ordering). Not only will your loved one be thrilled, you will have supported the Australian Architecture Association Fund which is used to support design education initiatives.

Click here to order your limited edition set now!

Please note that orders for christmas delivery within Australia will need to be made by Friday 9 December 2014


Image: Peter Tonkin, Watercolour on paper. View of Amsterdam Canal


Image: Richard Goodwin, Photographic and drawing collages on paper. From the artists own collection.


Image: Terroir, Computer rendering on photographic paper. View of the National Library of the Czech Republic competition entry.

Image: Harry Seidler, Pen on Butter Paper. One of Harry Seidler's last sketches of details for the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre.


Image: Glenn Murcutt, Pen on Butter Paper. Sketch of a new house near Wagga Wagga with details of the sky.