AM60 OFFICE TOWER, BRISBANE CBD, QUEENSLAND
by Donovan Hill
dealing with the problem of the facade...
by Silvia Micheli
Despite eternal controversy to the organization of Biennale di Venezia and the numerous doubts expressed towards its real utility as an international event in the internet era, the Italian istitution shows to still be able to keep its cultural appealing.
A sign of its credibility is the proposal announced by the Australian Council to organize the redevelopment of the Australian pavilion at Biennale di Venezia, after it secured a significant donation to help fund the project.
The current pavilion, a pre-fabricated structure designed by Philip Cox in 1988, was intended to be a temporary space in order to organize exhibitions inside Venice’s Giardini. The building has been used for the Australian exhibitions since then. There have already been several campaigns in support of a new pavilion, including the Di Stasio Ideas Competition in 2008.
The Australian Council has recently proposed to organize a national competition by invitation for a new pavilion, an idea not welcomed by the Australian architects, who see it as a discriminatory criteria of selection. The degree of disappointment is so high, to have pushed an architect from Canberra to consider: “By invitation… what’s going on here? Where has the Australian spirit of egalitarianism and the fair go gone? Would Griffin, Utzon or Giurgola have gotten invitations to their competitions?”.
Meanwhile, the debate keep on going…
by Silvia Micheli
Brisbane, 9th September 2011
by Antony Moulis
The State Library of Queensland re-design by Donovan Hill (in association with Peddle Thorp Architects) completed in Brisbane, Queensland in 2006 is, for me, an architecture of great promise. The project has been a popular success, being something like a “termite’s nest” with a broad and diverse set of spaces and activities that create a sense of active public space within a previously insular institutional setting.
A critical aspect of the building’s form is its re-creation of domestic style space within public space. In a country such as Australia where domestic architecture is predominant in cultural terms, the “domestication” of public institutions is a way to have people feel “at home” in a city where the suburbs offer the main form of living. At the same time the building does not “talk down” to its public but seeks to engage it in playful ways. There are aspects of the building that recall the work of Alvar Aalto and his attempts to “humanise” architecture and public space. These values are important to a culture at the other fringe of the world that is dominated by an open and vast landscape that dwarfs attempts to make architecture at a similar scale. I like this building because it signals a new beginning for public space as an open experiment beyond the settings of Europe and America where such cultural questions about public space are usually answered through the repetition of, or reaction to, conventionally understood architectural forms. With the main interior actually being exterior space there is a delightful ambiguity to experience here. The sense of being enveloped in the larger landscape and the benign climate is ever present.
Yet the recent dramatic floods that engulfed Brisbane also inundated the building, breaking the fragile truce between nature and architecture that so strongly characterises this vast continent.