Archive 2012

New Publication: Australian Modern


AAA volunteer, interior designer and design educator Annalisa Capuro, has written an article for the new publication Australian Modern. The magazine is the result of the passion of Brisbane based publisher and creative director Chris Osborne, for all things Modernist.

The independent publication explores Australian mid 20th Century architecture, design, art, and furniture. This unique retrospective examines the projects, people and style of the period, enlightening readers about the mid century modern movement and it's talented and often overlooked designers.

Australian Modern was officially launched in Adelaide and Brisbane in January and Melbourne in March. A further launch event is being planned for Sydney. The AAA will post information when the date and location are finalised.

To learn more about Australian Modern visit their website. Copies can be obtained online through Folio Books.

Art Month Talks

1203E1The third annual Art Month Sydney festival takes place over the 1-25 March. Two of the Australian Architecture Associations' supporters, Object Gallery and Soho Galleries Sydney, are taking part this year.

The Art Month festival is all about celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary visual art in Sydney. It is great opportunity to hear artists talk about their work and see some exciting contemporary art exhibitions.

Object Gallery has their group show exhibition Stories In Form running over the length of the festival. To learn more click here.

Object Gallery also has a talk scheduled for the Wednesday 7 March at 7.30pm called Finding the Line Between Art and Design. One sure to be a thought-provoking discussion about the intersection of art and design. Speakers include Trent Jansen (designer), Andrew van der Westhuyzen (director of Collider), and Liane Rossler (designer). At this stage the talk is already booked out, however keep on the Art Month website to see if further places become available.

Soho Galleries Sydney has a series of exhibitions running over Art Month. Visit their website to see details on the exhibitors and locations.

Soho Galleries Sydney have also organized a talks by a sculptors as a part of ARTpark Australia Sculpture Collective, which sees the installation of large format sculptural works in commercial locations.

The first talk scheduled for ARTpark Australia Sculpture Collective is by noted artisan and sculptor, Stephen Coburn (son of famous artist John Coburn). The talk will take place on Tuesday 6 March at 2.30-4pm in Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney. See the below exert for an insight into his free talk ‘Public Sculpture in the City'.

"From the beginning of human civilisation civic sculpture has had its place. The bone assemblies from the midens of the cave dwellers to the ornate door posts of the African tribes gave groups of people and tribes their visual and spiritual identity.

In our modern world of economic rationalisation we have changed our building materials to steel and glass and limited any form of ornamentation to architectural features. The skyline of our new cities has changed dramatically in the last fifty years with technology and new building techniques.

Sculpture is going through a new Renaissance as well, and artists can collaborate with architects, with a true budget for art. Our new cities will become truly amazing. Architects take concrete and turn it into something spiritual, artists take something spiritual and make it concrete."

A second talk will be given by Todd Stuart of MainArtery Studio. Entitled ‘How to Successfully Commission Public Sculpture', it will held at The Bond, 30 Hickson Rd, Millers Point on Tuesday 20 March at 6-8pm.

To learn all about ARTpark Australia Sculpture Collective click on this link.

Cameron Offices, Belconnen by John Andrews


“Respect your elders”. How many times have you heard that age old saying? It crosses generations and cultures. We all like to think we give value to those who have wisdom, experience and history. The same could be said of architecture, but old does not always = respect.

Heritage seems to be valued if it's packaged in nostalgia – filigree colonialism is ok but brutalism concrete of the 70's is a no no. Take the Cameron Offices designed by the architect John Andrews as an example of how divided public opinion on architectural heritage can be.


Built in the 70's, the Cameron Offices were once a landmark building in the town centre of Belconnen in Canberra. Originally 9 rectilinear blocks linked by pedestrian bridges and landscaped courtyard galleys, the monumental complex once housed thousands of public servants.

As end users, those who worked there are often the harshest critics of the building – it's ugly, cold, too hot, too far away from the mall, and car parking (it's all about the car parks in Canberra). To be fair, all valid criticism if you spend 7.5 hours a day inside your allocated 6m2 rank area allocation with no opening windows living through successive and out dated office churn.


Beyond what I can only imagine the public service office detris, the design of the building offered column free floor plan (hallelujah!), achieved by the massive hanging beams and post tensioned concrete that made up the vast colonnaded landscapes between the individual blocks. The strong geometry and expressed concrete structure is why I love it. Also, hello, landscaped courtyard to look into to both sides (originally 'themed' to feature the variety of the Australian landscape) – like! Did I mention the kick arse sculpture by Canadian Gerald Gladstone (the optical galaxy sculpture), again – like!

Despite a vocal architectural community declaring the building's significance and its recognition on the Australian Government Heritage Register, demolition proceeded. Three of the blocks of nine now remain (and luckily the sculpture). These continue to be tenanted by the government, commercial enterprise as well as accommodation for the University of Canberra.


Hints of the ingenuity and colossal intent are evident out of the pickings of what seems like urban neglect. The concrete has stained from rain and leeching which only elucidates the sadness of a building culturally abandoned. Surrounded by car parking, the remnant buildings are even further disconnected to what was originally intended by John Andrews. He had envisaged a cohesive urban environment linking work, transport, shopping and residential.

Alas, change of mind, change of government and ownership, change of opinion and a disregard for valuing vision (sound like a familiar story?) leaves Belconnen, like much of Canberra outside of the Parliamentary Circle and Griffin Plan, a hodge podge of unvalued architectural heritage.

Photos & Article by our Canberra correspondent: Soovius


Castle Cove Walking Tour


On Saturday 26 February the AAA commenced the first of it's new walking tours for 2012. The Castle Cove - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly walking tour.

Led by AAA volunteer, architect and design educator, Ben Gerstel, participants of the walk launch enjoyed an exploration of the suburb. Tracing the development from it's 1950's and 1960's single dwellings into the present day, Castle Cove is an areas with a rich diversity of architecture.


Over the course of the walk, Ben presented many buildings designed by different architects in different eras, including works by Martin and King Architects, White Box Architecture, Harry Seidler & Associates, Marston Architects, Bruce Rickard and Luigi Roselli Architects.


After completing the two hour walk, tour participants were invited to join the AAA for early evening refreshments in the Castle Cove residence designed by architect Vivienne Marston of Marston Architects.

Attendees enjoyed mingling in the light filled open plan living spaces that look out to outstanding views of the water.


We would like to thank Vivienne and Andrew for offering their home to host the AAA and it's supporters. A great evening was enjoyed by all.

We have Castle Cove walking tours scheduled throughout the year. Book into this popular tour early to experience some of the architecture Castle Cove has on offer, be it the good, the bad or ugly!

Special Talk - Julian Lipscombe

1203A1Special International Architect Talk:

Julian Lipscombe of UK firm Bennetts Associates Architects

Holme Sutherland Room, University of Sydney

2012 sees the return of the Australian Architecture Associations' international architects talk series. Our first speaker for the year is Julian Lipscombe, director at one of the UK's leading firms, Bennetts Associates Architects.

When I first heard Julian Lipscombe would be presenting his firm's work for the AAA, I suffered a fit of nostalgia for my time working as a designer in London. For anyone interested in all things theatrical, London is definitely the place to be! Bennetts Associates Architects designed the Hampstead Theatre, one of my favourite places in London to experience new writing and see contemporary productions.

The Hampstead Theatre at night. (Photo courtesy of Bennetts Associates)

Despite it's name, the Hampstead Theatre is actually located in the suburb of Swiss Cottage. Completed in 2003, this RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awarded building (2003), was the first freestanding theatre to be constructed in London since the National Theatre in South Bank was built in 1975.

Founded in part by grants from the Arts Council of England, the theatre formed a part of a larger master plan developed in 1994 by Bennetts Associates. The inclusion of a new cultural institution in the area was envisaged as a catalyst for the revitalisation of Swiss Cottage in northwest London. Not only would it attract theatre enthusiasts into the area, it would also encourage the establishment of associated organisations and commercial business in Swiss Cottage.


Interior view of the Hampstead Theatre ancillary spaces and elliptical auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Bennetts Associates)

The clients, The Hampstead Theatre Foundation, wanted a space that was compact, with the flexibility to adapt the staging to a variety of productions.

The building's sculptural form expresses the volume of the auditorium and stage rising out of a rectangle of ancillary accommodation. A large basement prevents the building from dominating the site, which is surrounded by low-rise buildings.

The auditorium's shallow ellipse accommodates various sizes of audience and stage format while maintaining the feel of a complete ‘room'. Flexible education and production workshops facilitate the client's work commissioning and staging new plays.


Interior view of the Hampstead Theatre auditorium seating. (Photo courtesy of Bennetts Associates)

With the completion of the Hampstead Theatre, Bennetts Associates Architects established themselves as one of the leading designers in the UK for cultural buildings.

On the 3 April, Julian Lipscombe will present another theatrical building Bennetts Associates Architects completed in 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in the English Midlands.

We expect places at the talk to fill up quickly, so don't miss out, book now!