Category Archives: Architecture and Urban Design

Suburbia, apartmentia, adapturbia

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Nelsons Ridge

Nelsons Ridge housing estate, photo by Marinco Kojdanovski 2012

Are baby-boomers responsible for Sydney’s unaffordable housing? It’s becoming a common theme of the property media with story headings like ‘Boomers put super squeeze on first home buyers’. And similar arguments are being made in the planning and architecture world.

Former NSW Government Architect Chris Johnson: ‘The big issue right now for Sydney is the pendulum swing from low density detached housing to more urban apartment living.…With a growing army of ageing baby boomers wanting to protect suburbia, Sydney needs a new swat squad of younger urban dwellers to support the new apartmentia’.
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The Big Trousers has a new friend

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CCTV model

Powerhouse Museum collection: Architectural model, China Central TV Headquarters, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA, ECADI, Arup, England, made by Micromodel, Beijing, China, 2004-2008. Gift of Arup Sydney.

Thanks to Arup Sydney we acquired a model of the China Central TV headquarters in Beijing. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and OMA, its a sophisticated and controversial attempt to reinvent the office tower. Architects, journos and others have debated its pros and cons at length.

But in Beijing they can’t be fussed with that. To taxi-drivers, commuters and all manner of smarty-pants, Rem’s masterpiece is just the Big Trousers.

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Lost paintings from the pub wall

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pub painting

Pub painting, photo by Jim Brown 1968-1972.

Jim Brown was a former US serviceman who lived in Sydney from 1968 to 1972. Like a lot of people back then he was struck by the oil-on-glass pub advertising paintings which adorned most of Sydney’s pubs. During the first half of the twentieth century a lot of advertising graphics and signs were the work of artists like those at the Rousel Studio. A painterly touch was common.
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Sirius on the Rocks

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Sirius

Sirius apartments, watercolour and ink on board. PHM collection 2013/36/1 Gift of the family of Jack and Jean Nagle.

We have just acquired this watercolour elevation of the Sirius public housing apartments in the Rocks.  Most architects’ elevations use a street level viewpoint – this bird’s eye view is different and striking.

Sirius was built to rehouse public tenants displaced during the controversial redevelopment of the Rocks during the 1960s and 1970s. Eventually building work in the Rocks was halted by union Green Bans and resident opposition. In 1975 the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority agreed to suspend most of its development plans and rehouse displaced public housing tenants in new public housing.
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Nouvel and Gehry in the Hood.

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Photo by Charles Pickett 2013.

Photo by Charles Pickett 2013.

The first new building at the Central Park development on Broadway is making progress. Watching it is a bit different from following the progress of most new buildings – it’s literally growing, not just figuratively so. French botanist Patrick Blanc is creating what’s claimed to be the tallest vertical garden in the world.
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Architects and photographers

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Max Dupain, Sydney Ancher house, Neutral Bay, 1958. Courtesy Max Dupain & Associates.

The careers of architects and photographers are often intertwined. An outstanding case is Max Dupain, Australia’s leading photographer of architecture, whose work was crucial in building the reputations of several architects including Harry Seidler, Sydney Ancher and Glenn Murcutt.

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The Clare is closing

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Clare Hotel, 2010. Photo by Sotha Bourn.

The Clare Hotel on Broadway is closing this year. It will open again, but not as the comfortably crumpled venue of recent times. The Clare’s past and likely future are reflective of the fortunes of Sydney pubs.

The Clare like all Sydney pubs built during the twentieth century was shaped by restrictive licensing laws. During the 1920s thanks to the temperance movement pubs lost the small bars and parlours where all sorts of things could be said and done more or less in private.

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Demolishing Darling Harbour

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Sydney Convention Centre, 1988. PHM collection 2009/55/1, Design archive, John Andrews / John Andrews International, Australia / USA / Canada, 1962-1992.

You might have read recently in the Sydney Morning Herald about the planned demolition of Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. The Centre’s architect John Andrews is not surprisingly unimpressed that another of his Australian designs is under threat after a mere 25 years of use.

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Opera House models

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Photo from ‘Sydney National Opera House’, (‘Red Book’), paper, prepared by Jorn Oberg Utzon, printed by Artlier Eleckra, Denmark, 1958. 2003/34/2-1

It is 56 years this month since Jorn Utzon’s success in the design competition for the Sydney Opera House. During January 1957 the four judges (they were all architects: Cobden Parkes, Eero Saarinen, Ingham Ashworth and Leslie Martin) looked through more than 700 entries. Utzon’s win was announced at the Art Gallery of NSW on January 29.

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Dream Homes

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Artwork for poster, J & J McAdam, 1963. PHM collection 93/112/1-7

The poster artwork above is the work of Jean and Joan McAdam, twin sisters who ran a successful graphic design business for several companies including LJ Hooker, developers of the Killarney Heights Estate. Recently I posted about a Beachcomber project home built at Killarney Heights in 1965 for Ruby Matthews and family.

The poster artwork is one of couple of Killarney related things I’ve since stumbled across. As an address Killarney Heights dates from 1963 when Hooker Rex launched the Estate overlooking Middle Harbour.  Killarney Heights wasn’t just another subdivision – when it opened the Estate featured a ‘Parade of Homes’ of 17 display houses by several project builders and a ‘Dream Home’ built for the winners of a Women’s Day competition.
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