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Scanning the nation for architectural news and noteworthy nuances.

left Renzo Piano’s Centre Culturel Tijibaou, in Noumea; inspired by Kanak ‘cases’ (houses) and built in laminated iroko wood and metals. Photo copyright P.A. Panz/RPBW/ADCK.


AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Civic should be revitalised as the real heart of Canberra, suggests a new discussion paper, Our City, prepared for the ACT Planning and Land Management group (PALM) by a team including architects Colin Stewart, Pedro Geleris and Ann Cleary. This idea contradicts the old National Capital and Development Commission‘s Y Plan, which championed a decentralised array of equal towns. Welcoming the document, ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell said it represented community views. Greens called on owners of vacant Civic office buildings to “bite the bullet” and convert them for apartments and community uses >> RAIA CEO Michael Peck has told federal Parliament’s public works committee that the government should postpone opening the national museum facilities on Acton peninsula (scheduled for January 2001) because the time is too short to obtain quality >>Colin Stewart has been appointed design adviser to the Kingston Foreshore Authority, after his MCC Group won the commission to design a 38 hectare lakeside recreation zone.

NEW SOUTH WALES
At press time, DCM‘s Richard Johnson was the last architect being interviewed for the kamikaze task of refurbishing the Sydney Opera House. Earlier candidates were Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp and Allen Jack + Cottier with George Freedman >>Graham Humphrey is nearing completion on a substantial masonry shophouse for James Packer and Kate Fischer on a corner of Campbell Parade, Bondi. Neighbour Neville Quarry prevailed on them to drop one storey >> Pyrmont’s most flamboyant apartment development, designed by Wilkinson Candalepas as winners of a City West competition, has almost sold out >>Cox Richardson have won the planning commission for Victoria Park-a hotel, residential and commercial precinct at Zetland, south Sydney >> Three Assistant Government Architects have been appointed by the Minister for Public Works & Services, Ron Dyer. They are Doug Anderson,Walter Koll and Peter Mould >> Five teams have been appointed by the state government to prepare plans for operating key precincts of Sydney and Homebush during the Games. Architects are Bligh Lobb (Olympic Park and Darling Harbour), Scott Carver (Homebush press and hospitality facilities), Daryl Jackson-Robin Dyke (Sydney East) and Woods Bagot (Sydney West) >>Dino Burratini, novated architect for the internationally criticised apartment block at East Circular Quay, has told The Sydney Morning Herald that his practice has been ruined (with a staff decline of 68 to 3) by public opposition to the building. He also showed his first design for the site: a building high beside the expressway, then swooping down towards the Opera House “like a 747” >> The Herald has begun another campaign against a significant Sydney development: the Walsh Bay finger wharves. Fuelled by complaints from losing architects Vivian Fraser, Richard Johnson, Ken Woolley and Peter Tonkin, and CRI developer Peter Wills, the paper has expressed grave doubts about the government’s support for a design which flouts the original tender conditions by demolishing one wharf shed and parts of others. It suggested that the government should start again and not trust the developers to honour any contract >> Listed architect Devine Erby Mazlin is denying serious impacts from the Asia crisis, while its share price is below 50c >> After years of inertia, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects is increasingly active about the design of civic places. As well as beefing up its lectures and seminars, it showcased its last awards in a colour brochure bound onto Belle magazine. NSW president Noel Corkery has claimed in The Australian that LAs are “emerging as champions of quality public spaces” >> Plunging into projects with a small team at the Department of Public Works and Services, Queenslanders Lindsay and Kerry Clare are tidying up central Circular Quay and designing exhibition and retail pavilions at the botanic gardens, plus an ESD TAFE college near Albury and the Olympic Village school. They are linking with Devine Erby Mazlin and RAIA NSW President David Brown to produce guidelines for suburban housing at Wyong >>Meriton is the only developer defying a general lack of confidence about planning new apartment buildings in central Sydney, following the Asian crisis >> A large block of Defence Department land at Randwick is being sold, with potential for 44 units >> The Council of Building Design Professions suggests that the move by NSW Public Works and Services to a two-envelope tender system is not going far enough-and has called for qualification-based selection >> Seventies project home innovator Ken Woolley has claimed that since the 1980s, Australia has been suffering its worst period for housing: “nostalgia gone mad”. But The Australian’s architecture critic, Peter Ward, disagrees, claiming that quality is better now than in the ‘jerry built’ decades of the 1940s and 50s, and any design inadequacies are the fault of architects for ignoring project housing >> Leading developers are battling to buy the 51 hectare AGL site at Breakfast Point, with its 1.3 km of Parramatta River waterfront and potential for 1700 dwellings >> NSW Urban Affairs and Planning Minister Craig Knowles seems set to approve a Westfield scheme for a major retail and cinema centre at Bondi Junction, despite a floor space ratio almost 50 percent over the limit >> The AILA and UniNSW landscape students are conducting an international ideas competition for the Brickpit; a former Mad Max film set and now the ecologically sensitive centre of Millennium Park at Homebush >> The RAIA‘s national housing conference (in Sydney late March) was told by Frank Stanisic of a “historic U-turn” in current thinking of housing as part of rather than apart from the city. Meanwhile, urban sociologist Dr Michael Bounds described deteriorating conditions in outer suburbs.

QUEENSLAND
Delfin Properties is planning Brisbane’s largest industrial park, near its Forest Lake residential subdivision in the southern suburbs >> RAIA Gold Medallist Gabriel Poole, delighted by his honour and “magic” current circumstances, told a large crowd of admirers at Noosa that Queenslanders had been prepared to take risks on his housing designs, even if they didn’t understand them, but Sydneysiders had been obstructive and afraid of change.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
David Jones is “deeply disappointed” about the 11th hour nomination of its Rundle Mall store for the state heritage register; it expects this move to delay sale for several months >> Glenelg’s beachfront is under construction for a 59-berth marina, protected by an offshore reef, and two apartment buildings. More facilities are planned for Holdfast Shores >>Westfield‘s newly enlarged shopping/cinema complex at Marion is hurting city retailers.

NATIONAL
In Australian Historical Studies,Tony Dingle and Seamus O’Hanlon write that Robin Boyd was wrong in claiming that modernists were ahead of public taste and that conservative homebuilders and buyers would eventually catch up. They suggest that Australians have consistently rejected modern houses (based on European intellectual theories associated with communism) through conscious antipathy rather than ignorance >> Vacancy rates for CBD offices fell by two percent across all States in 1997, says the Property Council of Australia >> An article on ‘Architecture’s New Politics’ was extracted from our last issue after the RAIA‘s National Executive decided it read contrary to our publishing agreement to “respect the aims, objectives, dignity and professional standing of the Institute”. Writer Davina Jackson was then asked by President Ric Butt to present her views to the National Council, which debated them vigorously and called for a review of RAIA communications >> Architects are forgetting two vital aspects of house aesthetics: acoustics and ambience, claims The Weekend Australian, quoting Melbourne ‘house of the future’ conceivers Michael Trudgeon and RMIT’s Chris Ryan >>The National Trust is worried about old woolsheds on country properties, collapsing through neglect.

TASMANIA
Despite three objections, developer John Lewis has gained approval to convert Hobart’s Salamanca silos into apartments >> The RAIA has told the government’s Sustainable Development Advisory Council that architectural and urban design issues appear to be incidental rather than fundamental to guidelines for the controversial Oceanport shipping terminal at Sullivans Cove. The Institute also called for thorough and accurate drawings of the project, and recommended that the council obtain design advice from Barrie Shelton (Hobart), Ken Woolley (Sydney), Rob Adams (Melbourne) and/or Renzo Piano (Genoa). Chapter President Keith Drew said Tasmanian architects were particularly worried by the proponents’ talk of “harmonising” the terminal with historic buildings in Salamanca Place … he called instead for “an enlightened and creative architectural design response” >> Expatriate Bob Nation headed a list of illustrious Apple Isle architects attending the Tasmanian Architectural Na(rra)tives weekend at the Gala Estate at Cranbrook during March. Others listed were Barry McNeill, Bevan Rees, Neil Wade, Leigh Woolley, John Ancher and Robert Morris-Nunn >> Launceston’s Inverresk railyard is to become a cultural, education and recreation precinct.

VICTORIA
At an open Sunday presentation by developer Bruno Grollo, more than 250 people (if you believe The Age) or more than 300 (if you believe the Herald-Sun) paid $5000 deposits for apartments in the yet-to-be approved, Denton Corker Marshall-designed Melbourne Tower; intended to provide Docklands with the tallest building in the world. Grollo also wants to build Melbourne an international Olympic sculpture park >> Geelong architects McGlashan Everist (award-winners for Deakin’s Woolstores campus) have again beaten Melbourne practices in a limited contest for a local project-this time to design a pavilion for a heritage fairground carousel to be placed beside Corio Bay. The Steampacket Place Directorate has denied claims that it rescued McGlashans from the reject pile after advising Anthony Styant-Browne and the Building Services Agency that they were the final two contenders >>Cox Sanderson Ness health guru Michael Lindell was to explain the new notion of ‘care-grazing’ and a third millennium trend to ‘self-managed interventionist’ treatment at a conference in Melbourne in early May >>Doug Evans, editor of the RMIT/ Aardvark Guide to Melbourne Architecture (CD, website and book) has claimed that Melbourne is “a truly remarkable architectural laboratory” to rival Paris, Rotterdam, Graz, Tokyo and Los Angeles >> Chosen from nine submissions by seven firms, Nation Fender Katsalidis are the architects for two retail, entertainment and apartment blocks to be built beside and behind the Esplanade Hotel at St Kilda. The rear residential building is likely to be taller than the 18-storey height limit for this site, to offset preserving the ‘Espy’ >>Geyer Design now forces all staff to go home every Tuesday evening at 6pm pronto >> Developments which fail to respect neighbourhood character are being targeted by a new network of residents groups called Save Our Suburbs, which recently attracted 1000 people to a meeting at the Hawthorn Town Hall >> The copper-clad design by Wood Marsh and PINK for the Malthouse Plaza contemporary arts precinct at Southbank has been described as “a cobra enticed into voluptuous repose”. The design includes a giant air vent for the City Link tunnel underneath >> Toorak and South Yarra are being transformed by townhouses on sites formerly occupied by stately residences >> Troubled Crown casino has decided not to go ahead with its promised second hotel tower >> Glen Iris, the childhood neighbourhood of Barrie Humphries, is Melbourne’s new demographic centre, thanks to a sprawl-halting trend to live closer to the city >> Generous balconies and decks are included in D’Orio Architects‘ design of a 29-storey apartment building known as Century Tower, to be built in Kavanagh Street, behind Southbank >> Bourke Street Mall needs a revamp, said streetsweeper John Kemp in an Age article noting the precinct’s 20th anniversary.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Forbes & Fitzhardinge Woodland are marrying Cox Howlett & Bailey, a move perhaps timed partly in response to the shortlist for a $38 million maritime museum (to house Australia II) and development of Fremantle’s Victoria Quay. These two firms were the only single offices listed among six double-contenders for the project. The other four teams were Donaldson & Warn with Hassell, James Christou with Denton Corker Marshall, Jones Coulter Young with Peddle Thorp & Walker and Brand Deakin & Hay with Bates Smart. There is no architect on the judging panel but Peter Parkinson will advise >> Another competition is being held to study feasibility of a $50 million police communications and forensic refurbishment of the Midland railway workshops. Contenders are Jones Coulter Young, Coney Stevens Project Management, Forbes & Fitzhardinge Woodland, Hames Sharley, James Christou and The Planning Group (Spowers) >> Worried about the loss of Asian work by larger local practices, the WA RAIA is examining ways to persuade the government to commission more city projects. However, Perth already has good infrastructure for its stable population and economy >>Hobbs Winning have designed a 14-storey apartment tower at Terrace Road and Hill Street, next to Perth’s Sheraton.

NORTHERN TERRITORY
Despite RAIA protests, the Architects’ Act review panel is again recommending repeal to the territory government, subject to all-States’ agreement.

INTERNATIONAL
1998 Pritzker Prize-winner Renzo Piano‘s latest work, the Centre Cultural Tjibaou, opened in Noumea in May. It is dedicated to Kanak pro-Independence leader, Marie-Claude Tjibaou, who was killed during an insurrection in 1989.

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Published online: 1 May 1998

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Architecture Australia, May 1998

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