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Architecture Australia September 2021

Ask architects which Australian magazine they choose to read or to publish their work and the answer is most likely Architecture Australia. If you want to be up to date with the best built works and the issues that matter, then Architecture Australia is for you. Its commissioned contributors are independent, highly respected practitioners, architectural thinkers and design commentators and each article is supported by images from leading architectural photographers. Provocative, informative and engaging – it is the national magazine of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Architecture Media Pty Ltd
6 Issues

in this issue

3 min
putting people at the top of the agenda

Firstly, I’d like to offer my sincere congratulations to the winners in the Institute’s 2021 Chapter Awards program. In my previous foreword, I laid down my agenda to look beyond awards during my presidency; although this remains my aim, it is important to acknowledge the achievements of our members and to applaud the exceptional architecture that has been completed over the past 12 months. I’m particularly glad to see that many of the projects showcased within these pages reveal the best in sustainable design, and that many new or improved community spaces have been awarded this year. It was heartwarming to learn that this edition of Architecture Australia looks at architects being responsive to an increasing need that will, at some point, affect all of us: ageing. The subject of ageing…

3 min
embracing shifting demographics

In March this year, the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety called for fundamental reform of the aged care system. As architect Jan Golembiewski highlighted in his article for The Conversation (9 April 2021), the report unfortunately didn’t address the role that architecture can play in the implementation of the recommendations. He says that “only two of the 148 recommendations relate specifically to architecture, numbers 45 and 46: to improve the design of residential care accommodation; and to provide ‘small household’ models of accommodation.” Prompted by this omission, we invited Guy Luscombe, Sydney director of System Architects, to guest-edit a dossier for this issue of Architecture Australia on how we might envision a more age- and dementia-friendly built environment (page 51). During the past 20…

7 min
venice biennale 2021 australian exhibit: in | between

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, curated by Hashim Sarkis, poses the question “How will we live together?” and calls on architects “to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together.” Sarkis’s provocation is a compelling pitch, on the grandiose stage of the Biennale, in a time marked by continuing acts of racial injustice, settler colonialism, police brutality, and extensive damage, destruction and dispossession of Indigenous peoples’ lands. Australia has the privilege of being one of only 29 countries with a permanent pavilion within the Giardini della Biennale, though this year operated differently, with some pavilions – including Australia’s –moving to a virtual exhibition to manage the risks posed by the pandemic. The Biennale provides an unparalleled platform for the profession to display its architecture – its projects, scholarship and responses…

4 min
mmxx: two decades of architecture in australia

More a massive magazine than a book in the traditional sense, MMXX (Thames and Hudson, 2020) seeks both currency and reflection. Cataloguing 20 years of Australian architecture, Cameron Bruhn acts as author and editor, concisely writing on 59 selected projects and bringing in a strong set of diverse voices to contribute essays. He makes clear the link to Davina Jackson and Chris Johnson’s 2000 book Australian Architecture Now, but this and other books around the time sought currency rather than reflection in their attempts to capture a concise period. Given Bruhn’s stated attempt to survey a 20-year period, I came away thinking the book’s ambition was to offer a sequel to Jennifer Taylor’s Australian Architecture Since 1960 (published 1990) – which was itself a sequel, of sorts, to John Maxwell…

4 min
design: building on country

Alison Page and Paul Memmott have written this timely and powerful book as part of a First Knowledges series, edited by Margo Kneale, which brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors in an act of reconciliation. Design: Building on Country (Thames and Hudson, 2021) draws on Indigenous knowledges to illuminate how design can become an expression of respect for Country, and how it can begin to “pick the scabs and allow country to breathe again” (page 17). It is a call to the design professions to accept and step into the obligations inherent in the now customary Acknowledgment of Country and to develop responsibility for this knowledge relationship. Page and Memmott outline the implications of practising what they call “New Australian Design” by linking a series of Indigenous-led-and-designed projects with knowledge of…

8 min
woods bagot and shop architects

Melbourne city is slowly coming back to life after months of lockdowns, on and off. Walking the streets of the CBD, I see people around, a tenuous return to the streets. As you walk west along Collins Street, you pass some of Melbourne’s best nineteenth-century mercantile buildings – the Block Arcade (1893), the former Melbourne Stock Exchange (1891), the former ES&A “Gothic” Bank (1887) and, across the intersection of Collins and Queen streets, the former National Mutual Life Association building (1893). These gothic and classical buildings are remnants of “Marvellous Melbourne” and the land boom that fuelled it. They are street buildings with a rich interplay of windows, doorways and ornamentation proudly exhibiting the commerce of the time. You need to walk down William Street to get a sense of the next…