Archive 2012

St Thomas Aquinas Parish Church


I may have had a fall out with religion, yet I find fascinating how a church, mosque, synagogue or other type of spiritual building is traditionally an expression of religious rhetoric and the power of the institution. Ye olde worlde sacred spaces are fascinating to me as spaces of artifice and psychological manipulation. A place where in the old days (and you will have to forgive the generalization), church and state asserted their moral and community ‘guidance' to ignorant and sinful commoners through soaring, awe inspiring architecture. ‘Man', the individual is meant to feel small and insignificant when faced with the soaring and echoing spaces. ‘Thou shalt be silent and reflective' and ‘thou shalt not laugh at the green indicator above the confessional because we are a modern church now, you know'!


Things have moved on a bit since then. These days the spiritual connection need not be so much about reminding humans about their insignificance. Our spiritual selves can be celebrated with simplicity and modest architectural artifice distilled by light and form like in St Thomas Aquinas Parish Church in Charnwood, Canberra. This church is another architectural legacy that the great Italian born architect, Romaldo Giugola bestowed on Canberra, yet is little known.

Romaldo Giurgola is better known for his contribution to the nation, with his competition winning design for the Australian Parliament House, completed in 1988. When he won the competition in 1980, he moved from academic and architectural acclaim in the US to Australia (he became a citizen in 2000). No small thing to do for a man who at this time was already in his sixties.


St Thomas Aquinas Parish Church in Charnwood is located in the North of Canberra. White brick, big cross - you can't miss it as you drive in (but you do). It is a form that is a mediation between open landscape and domesticity. The form of the building reflects both Giurgola's modernist roots, as well as his departure from modernist tenets through the influence of one his inspirations - the work of Louis Kahn. Spatially it does what you expect a church to do - draw you into an intimate entrance and then push you out into vertical height, light and a big cross behind the alter. Cue shaft of light and angelic symphony.


It's not a resplendent stained glass windows and weeping saints kind of church, but it is nice. It makes you feel welcome; it's a warm fuzzy kind of religious experience. It's the kind of church that is about the suburbs and community and you would hope, not about preaching dogma. I will ponder this the next time I reflect on spirit, just maybe not on consecrated ground!

Images and Text by our Canberra Correspondent.

Early Bird Discount - Sydney City Walk

aurora1Our 2012 walks program is now into it's second month with a renewed route for Sydney City Walk and Twilight Walk.  We are now including the newly finished 1 Bligh Street Tower and the Sydney Opera House in the route.  If you are interested in the Twilight Walk, make sure you do it in March or you will have to wait 6 months until daylight saving re-start in October!

We are now offering a whopping 33% early bird discount on Sydney City Walk and Twilight Walk if you book more than 1 week ahead. Early bird tickets for these walks are now only $20 generally and $10 for students. (Normally $30 & $15 respectively)

And remember, these walks are available to book for free for all AAA members. If you are not a member yet, join online today and you can come to all our walks for free for the entire year, including several new walks to be launched in the next six months!


CPD Talks Series - Concrete Polishing Specification


Following our two successful CPD talks in February, the next talk will be held on 21 March in SOHO Annex South.  If you are a NSW registered architect and have not fulfilled your CPD requirement for the year, make sure you coming to this one before the end of March cut off date!

Polished concrete has a special appeal to those who love minimalist or brutalist aesthetics, it is about transforming this common material, be it old or new, into its best glittering look.

Knowing how the polishing process works and it's environmental benefits will assist you in incorporating polished concrete in your future projects.  No matter if you are an architect, interior designer or a home owner looking to transform your house, you will find this talk interesting.  It will be presented by Dallas Mexon from Concrete by Design.  Take a look at their website for various examples of polished concrete!


Drawn by Design - The Art of Architecture

As part of the Art Month program, Art Atrium will host the exhibition ‘Drawn by Design - The Art of Architecture' focusing on drawings and sketches by Australian architects. Architects participating in this exhibition include Camilla Block, Malcolm Carver, Philip Cox, Neil Durbach, Richard Goodwin, David Holm, Chris Johnson, Richard Johnson, Colin Madigan, Glenn Murcutt, Paul Pholeros, Peter Stutchbury, Alec Tzannes, Tone Wheeler, Ken Woolley.


Sketch by Philip Cox

Art Atrium director and architect Simon Chan said: "Drawing and sketching for a lot of architects are an integral part of their design process. A simple sketch or drawing can form the basis of a design concept that will be further developed and refined. A sketchbook in the hands of an architect is also the equivalent of a camera for a photographer or a journal for a writer. This exhibition captures the way different architects utilize sketches and drawings at work and at play.'


Sketches by Col Madigan (Left) & Ken Woolley (Right)

The exhibition is open from 13 March - 7 April 2012, 11am-4pm Monday - Saturday at Art Atrium, 181 Old South Head Road, Bondi Junction NSW 2022.  The exhibition launch with the architects will be held on Saturday 17 March between 2:30 - 4:30 pm, to be opened by Malcome Turnbull, MP.

Full catalogue for Drawn by Design - The Art of Architecture will be available at the Art Atrium website.


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.