AR139 – From concept to completion
The latest issue of AR, ‘From concept to completion’, is on newsstands now. Editor Michael Holt gives a summary of the latest architectural insight, interviews and projects behind the cover.
In this issue we have a wonderful array of projects, each different from the other but all showcasing innovation, perfect design resolution and outstanding style.
Should we really hide the medicine in the mashed potatoes – as per the Preview to this issue (in AR138– Margins) – to persuade the discipline to look at its critical and pedagogical approaches? Are facts and information scrupulously concealed, preventing full disclosure in procurement and contractual aspects of the profession? Is contemporary society hell-bent on the immediate shorthand version of events or commentary, rather than advocating for something, anything?
Where AR138–Margins sought to locate disciplinary parameters in order to establish the conditions by which problems are made stark, AR139–Disclosure is entirely contrasting. AR138 suggested the profession is marginalised, wallowing in the fact that architecture is driven by the bottom line and that Modernism reigns in marginalia. AR139 has an investigative focus, highlighting why the profession is marginalised by a lack of disclosure at every level. Margins and Disclosure, then, are disparate twins.
AR139–Disclosure looks at how we perceive our role and our work. The practice of architecture requires its own full disclosure of the facts, to scrutinise our own methods or approaches, to evince critical commentary that moves away from studied indifference. We should actively encourage rather than dissuade.
If there is an unwillingness to critically discuss architecture or to willingly engage in decision-making then architecture must seek strategies to rectify this. In ‘Undercover Architects: The deceptive face of frontline practice’ (p036) Alysia Bennett pertinently asks: ‘Given that our current architectural scene is plagued with political and regulatory constraints…could these issues be overcome through a deliberate misrepresentation of objective? Does architecture have to disclose its intentions and, what happens if an architect deliberately sets out to deceive?’ So, is it methods of practice or the language used that can shift the mindset? Indeed, Clare Sowden notes that the phrase ‘design thinking’ has been coopted by the business world, which ‘elevates the importance of process and creates new problem-solving frameworks’ (p028). In turn, Sowden believes architects must draw on their training and see the professional field as an opportunity rather than a predicament, allowing the figure of the architect to be in ‘a unique position [when facing] the complexities of city-making’.
City-level decision-making is at the core of the issue, notably the intensifying problem between public–private space and its disclosure. In ‘On Trial: Closure / Disclosure: Christchurch City After the Quakes’ (p024) Barnaby Bennett outlines Christchurch’s ongoing recovery following a series of earthquakes that destroyed large parts of the city. He identifies ‘two contrasting forms of closure and disclosure [that] can be seen operating across the city’, where ‘closure can be understood as a process in which it is claimed things are contained and under control; and disclosure is a process in which previously hidden things are revealed.’ The concealment of information is not unfamiliar territory for architecture. In the construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, Filippo Brunelleschi chose not to disclose his plans to the builders, but such authorial control proved impossible, as it required the architect to be on-site throughout construction. As such, Leon Battista Alberti suggested the architect should ‘provide builders with notations to be executed faithfully in the architect’s absence’. The advent of collaboration?
Currently, the profession holds a curious understanding of ‘collaboration’ – it possibly even glorifies a weakened definition of the role of the architect. The practice and culture of architecture is commoditised in the wake of collaboration. But in ‘Collaborative Commons, the latent potential’ (p030) Claire McCaughan identifies that our ‘patterns of consumption are changing, shifting from ownership to use’ and that ‘architecture is already acting latently within the developing social and economic order of collaborative commons; however, we are not making the link between the profession’s work and this highly impactful system’.
Project reviews include Woods Bagot’s Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre (p044), John Wardle Architects in collaboration with NADAAA’s Melbourne School of Design, the University of Melbourne (p068) and Atelier FCJZ’s Vertical Glass House (p076). Our Under Construction feature is The Goods Line by ASPECT Studios with CHROFI (p020). The issue is flanked by a revisit to the unprecedented edition of re-reviewed content in AR138–Margins in POSTVIEW (p008) and a look forward in PREVIEW AR140 (p098), which promises to be a similarly unique edition.
Welcome to the second issue of (inside) for 2015. We’ve been enjoying balmy late summer days and the Christmas break is but a memory; however, there are still many opportunities to relax, take in the warm weather and enjoy this exciting issue of (inside).
While we have been at home in Australia, there have been exciting things happening abroad. We journey first to Singapore where the Australian Tapestry Workshop unveiled its latest tapestry collaboration (p32) with artist Brook Andrew. Then it’s on to Denmark for Olafur Eliasson’s Riverbed (p38). In this issue, we profile Kennedy Nolan, the winner of the Single Residential category and Overall winner from IDEA 2014 (p44) and we talk with the team at Techne Architecture + Interior Design about their practice (p34).
In Survey, we discover the hidden retail locations for canny designers to purchase special pieces in Sydney (p40) – we’ll discover Melbourne’s secret spots in the next issue. We speak with Jonathan Adler in Discourse (p48) and discover what makes this designer one of the most admired in the world and, in the second iteration of Craft to Completion, Adam Goodrum’s Molloy is explored (p52) from concept through to showroom floor.
We have a wonderful array of projects each different from the other, but all showcasing innovation, perfect design resolution and outstanding style. The first of our projects from Arent&Pyke (p56) is a beautifully resolved Potts Point pied-à-terre. The Wolf Upstairs by Meme (p64) is a new event space that combines the best of the old with the new to eclectic perfection while, in Double Bay Sydney, the latest hotel for InterContinental designed by Bates Smart (p70) celebrates fine design in style.
Taking to the open sea, the MV Sorrento is the latest project from Nexus Designs (p78) and this ferry sets a new benchmark for interior design on sea faring vessels. Looking for beautiful furniture? Then a visit to the new Living Edge Showroom by Woods Bagot (p86) must be on your list. Or perhaps take a table at Benjamin’s Kitchen (p94), a new café by designer Aaron Wong of Alexander Pollock. Wong has created a clean, bright whimsical interior that sets the scene for the outstanding food on offer.
IDEA 2015 is on the horizon and we look forward to receiving your entries. We have a new website and it’s going to be an exciting year all round! The awards are open so make sure you contribute by sending in your wonderful projects and products.