Model, Aquatic Centre for the Asian Games, Bangkok, Philip Cox/Cox Architects, 1995. Powerhouse Museum collection.
The architect Philip Cox recently told us what we already knew: Star casino in Pyrmont is by far his worst building. Needless to say a Star flack was immediately reassuring the media that almost none of Cox’s 1997 design had survived the casino’s recent renovations. Whether the casino genre is a likely inspiration for good architecture need not concern us here – for his part Cox declared casinos a toxic genre and wished he’d never designed one.
Photo by Max Dupain 1966, Powerhouse Museum collection. Courtesy Max Dupain & Associates.
We’ve just installed a small exhibition to mark the fortieth anniversary of Sydney Opera House on 20 October. The anniversary, by the way, is of the official 1973 opening by the Queen, not the first public performance there on the 28 September 1973, an interesting choice of dates.
Danny De Vito, Richard Dreyfus and Cadillacs in Tin Men, 1987. Copyright Allmovies.com
Re-skinning of buildings takes several forms, not all of them particularly reputable. During the 60s and 70s salesmen prowled the suburbs, seeking out fibro and weatherboard cottages that could be re-clad with aluminium or vinyl. The hard sell would then begin, with promises of capital gains, improved appearance and insulation. I’m not sure that many houses were actually improved, especially as the new cladding was usually screwed on over the existing one.
This business was immortalized in a popular US movie of the 1980s: Tin Men was both satirical and nostalgic about two competing aluminium cladding (‘siding’ in US lingo) salesmen, played by Danny De Vito and Richard Dreyfus.
Marseille: Museum of European and Mediterranean civilisations (left) and Villa Mediterranean. Photo by Charles Pickett, 2013.
I’ve been holidaying in Europe recently; mainly Italy and Greece, but we also managed a day in Marseille.
France’s oldest and second-largest city is European City of Culture for 2013 so there is even more to see than usual. Focusing on Marseille as a cultural address is partly an attempt to stop the city being bracketed with the likes of Naples and Chicago: capitals of crime, corruption, poverty and drug gangs. There’s reality behind the negative image but it also reflects the long-standing rivalry between Paris and Marseille and resulting urban caricatures.
Cover, The Home, 1 November 1933, artwork by Eileen Gray. Powerhouse Museum collection.
A couple of month’s back I was contacted by a Daily Telegraph journo, doing a story about Sydney’s ‘Gatsby-style’ mansions. Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby had just hit the screens and the media was searching for evidence that 1920s Sydney had glamour to match that of New York.
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.
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.
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.
Planned new tower podium and gateway building for UTS. Image courtesy UTS.
Recently I gave some help to a heritage architect working on the Broadway Central Park development. We were looking at the Kent Brewery photos in our Tooth & Co collection. I particularly enjoyed revisiting the Broadway photos, timely given that Broadway is having its biggest makeover in decades. As well as the vast Central Park project, UTS is gaining a new building on the northern side of Broadway while the street level podium of the UTS Tower will be transformed.
Traffic congestion in a big city like Sydney is never far from the headlines and for those of us who need to cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge it is a daily reality. But traffic congestion in cities is nothing new. In London in the 1630s the clogging of narrow city streets by the increased use of horse-drawn vehicles was causing considerable outrage amongst the populace.