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Australian architectural concepts
on the drawing boards, under construction or recently built.

Portland: Maritime and Visitor Centre

Melbourne’s Pels Innes Neilson Kosloff have won Glenelg Shire’s limited competition for a maritime and visitor information centre at Portland, near the wreck of the Regia. PINK’s metaphoric concept exploits the imagery of marinas with three boat hull-shaped pavilions linked by a covered boardwalk and accessorised with balconies and ramps. Aligned north-south on reclaimed land, the complex is conceived as "a linear sequence of events" which begins at a proposed foreshore marina and finishes inside the curved walls of a maritime heritage exhibition gallery. Along the way are a two-storey pavilion comprising a museum and a café with a video theatre beneath them; an information office, and a souvenir shop. Stage 1 of the scheme is budgeted at $1.5 million and is expected to begin on site in June. Stage 2 is anticipated to include extension of the jetty ‘spine’ to take visitors directly out to the Regia shipwreck, which is submerged on the edge of Portland’s harbour lagoon. The local newspaper, Portland Observer, has noted that this is PINK’s second win of a Glenelg Shire competition.

Sydney: Beachside

In an unexpected yet applauded move, the NSW government land-release agency, Landcom, last year revealed a model housing program involving jury-selected schemes for nine new subdivisions planned by architects with good reputations for urban design. One scheme is ‘Beachside’: 30 courtyard houses conceived by Frank Stanisic Architects for a narrow strip of land between Lake Macquarie and Blacksmiths Beach on the Central Coast. Sited near weekenders and weatherboards, these houses will be built of painted brick, lightweight cladding and metal roofing to designs which encourage sun in living areas and cross breezes. Solar energy systems are planned, along with a nutrient control pond on the site’s northern boundary.

Melbourne: Aurora Apartments

Among the latest examples of a trend to stock Melbourne’s St Kilda Road with more apartment towers, the Aurora, designed by Spowers, offers 138 apartments over 19 levels. Conceived as an H-block plan configured to allow double aspects from the living areas of apartments at lower levels, the tower will be built in rendered concrete, anodised aluminium and Evergreen glazing; with strong vertical buttressing. The apartments range in size from 65 to 340 sq m (one to three bedrooms) and many have views across Albert Park Lake or to Port Phillip Bay. Ground level facilities include a restaurant, gym and 25 m pool.

Sydney: Centro

Close to Sydney’s Central Station, Centro is a 50-seat café converted by José-Garcia Negrette from a ground floor storeroom in a 1929 warehouse. Existing concrete floors and 4 m ceilings were retained, while the walls were opened up to two streets with large, aluminium-framed windows. Second-hand chairs were recovered. Along one wall, a new banquette was installed, with seating and backrest upholstered in blue marine-grade canvas, contrasted by a lemon-painted wall above. The counter is finished in a mulberry laminate.

Sydney: Dee Why Apartments

Melbourne architects Billard Leece have been investigating the beach culture on Sydney’s northern peninsula as research for a new apartment building on a corner block at Dee Why which offers views across the Narrabeen lagoon and towards Long Reef Point. Their client, Cornerstone International, "wanted a better product" suited to the casual culture and sunny climate of the area, but within a cost-efficient framework that precluded council-provoking designs or unconventional construction methods. The response is a three-storey dumb box-"like every other dumb box in Dee Why"-elaborated with generous balconies, private roof terraces, bay windows and a stepped facade exploiting north-east water views. Ten of the 15 apartments sold off the plan and construction has just begun.

Wellington: New Zealand

Parliament Restoration Three of New Zealand’s early parliamentary buildings have been restored and earthquake-strengthened to an NZIA Award-winning heritage strategy recommended by Sydney architects Howard Tanner & Associates and designer Rosemary Lucas, with documentation by Kiwi firm Warren and Mahoney. The 1876 Government Buildings (above, by William Clayton) is believed to be the largest timber structure in the southern hemisphere, and its four floors have been converted for Victoria University’s law school. New communications cables were introduced behind the historic kauri dadoes of its restored High Neo-Gothic interiors. A hexagonal lecture block was also built nearby. North of the Government Buildings, the Parliament House (1911-22, John Campbell) and Parliamentary Library (1897-9, Thomas Turnbull) were also reworked in original style to update their current uses to include modern office services.. Howard Tanner says the project required a detailed survey and photographs of the buildings’ existing conditions, research for original photos and plans, resolution of complex colour and furnishing schemes, and supervision of NZ artisans by Tanner site architect Rod Cook.

Melbourne: Victorian Arts Centre Corporate Lounge

Revising neglected nooks in the Roy Grounds-designed Victorian Arts Centre, Ashton Raggatt McDougall have transformed two subterranean sponsors’ lounges with a 40 m-long ‘marble wall’. This is literally a wall of marbles, suspended in backlit panels of clear resin, along with with scattered miscellany such as car jumper leads. ARM note that the resulting pattern is blurred: like a video screen seen too close or a printer’s dot screen magnified



Published online: 1 May 1997


Architecture Australia, May 1997

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