• AR137 – Residential

    The annual Residential issue is a reflection on all that is emanating in the realms of the housing typology and, in this issue, is primarily focused on New Zealand.

  • Inside 84

    Settle back and enjoy this special bumper issue of (inside). As you turn each page you will be proud, just as we are, of the talent, diversity and expertise that is Australian design.

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The annual Residential issue is a reflection on all that is emanating in the realms of the housing typology and, in this issue, is primarily focused on New Zealand. In a bid to invigorate what can be a normative and conventional typology, this issue takes as its secondary subject matter one steeped in architectural history – from ancient civilisation, to Roman Antiquity, to the present day – the courtyard.

On revisiting Las Vegas some twenty-five years after their original trip, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown noted that returning to the city was comparable to returning to Florence a century after Early Renaissance – an alienating discomfort. They had previously suggested, in Learning From Las Vegas (1972), that ‘Las Vegas was to the strip what Rome was to the piazza’. In essence, the strip provided the place for activity. It was an urban typology, almost scaleless.

A courtyard, of course, is open to the sky and contained by building. Etymologically, it is a word relational to the notion of enclosure, whether it is referred to as a piazza, square, palazzo, cloister, or even the humble backyard. The courtyard’s historical lineage is notable from the archetype of the Italian Renaissance palazzo – an urban perimeter block with an internal courtyard, presented to the city as a closed exterior facade; to the French Classical hôtel, which conflated the main facade with the courtyard as a response to the difficulty of inserting regular spaces into the fabric of the city; and, to Vienna’s Karl Marx-Hof social housing stock in 1927–30 – a superblock arrangement based on spatial and programmatic principles for monumental interior courtyards – said to be comparable to the monastic cloister typology. The courtyard spaces have often framed a new model of urban spatiality, regularising the irregular space of European cities. How, then, does a European courtyard typology, mired in historical emblem, translate to traditional Antipodean values?

The link may be found in the appropriation and constitution of public and private space. There are strangely similar objectives for the implementation of the courtyard: a desire for community. Whether it is the courtyards in China’s social housing systems as precedent to contemporary residential architecture or the anticipation of interactivity with the street as noted in Aaron Peters’ In Conversation article (p093), it seems that a return to older values are at the centre.

As Sam Kebbell notes, there is a ‘fascination with the private backyard [but] there are several concerted efforts to reorient New Zealanders to the front of their house’ (p036). With the conventional idea of housing in Australasia related to the notion of the ‘quarter-acre block’, there is parochial apprehension towards urban density and the tighter urban block. Indeed, Kebbell, in using the phrase ‘quarter-acre pavlova paradise’ alludes to an idea of individualised paradise on their own plot, suggesting the backyard is the operative force in contemporary architecture but that a return to traditional values would see the front yard become more predominant. It is a sentiment echoed in Peters’ article, as he advocates for his office’s (Owen and Vokes and Peters) use of the ‘sleep-out’.

Is a return to (or at least understanding of) tradition in response to attempting to find solutions, not a comment on the wider architecture discipline? Indeed, if the profession is to recalibrate, should tradition be its first port of call? If practitioners commanded, say, a typology such as the courtyard – coopting it as a reformatted version of traditional archetype – could it help but develop a discourse beyond a single project? Further, can isolating locality and elemental symbolism provide a sociopolitical base and announce ‘a more sensible way to reach the universal’, as noted in Silvia Perea’s article on Brazilian architect, Lina Bo Bardi (p031)?
The courtyard is loosely explored in projects and, as this issue centres on New Zealand design, there is a selection of Kiwi projects, from RTA Studio’s Wanaka House (p054) to Glamuzina Paterson’s courtyard project for the Lake Hāwea Courtyard House (p066) and Domenic Alvaro Architect’s Balfour Cottage (p072).

The courtyard is explored on a slightly different scale in OPEN Architecture’s Stepped Courtyards (p078), where the residential complex is analysed. Moreover, the ‘concept to completion’ series is initiated in the Under Construction feature on The Old Clare Hotel by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (p026) and the issue is bookended by POSTVIEW AR136 (p008) and PREVIEW AR138 (p098).

Michael Holt
Architectural Review Asia Pacific

The end of the year has come by so quickly and summer is almost here, but more importantly the IDEA 2014 winners are presented in this issue of (inside). With 194 shortlisted projects and 11 categories, determining those who have received the top accolade was a daunting and diffi cult task. Our wonderful jury worked tirelessly over two days to review each and every project and then choose the ultimate winners. We would like to thank Mim, Mark, Fiona, Trent, Jon and Grant for their professionalism, consideration and resolve throughout the process.

As you will see, the winning projects speak volumes about the calibre of Australian designers, architects and object makers. Our winners and those projects that were awarded a commendation are exemplars and we are proud that they have been recognised in IDEA 2014. In fact all entries this year were of such a high stature that we think the bar has been lifted for design resolution, innovation and sheer talent.

Although half the magazine is devoted to IDEA 2014, we also have great pleasure in presenting some wonderful projects and outstanding profiles and reviews in this issue. These days art is an integral part of the design process and Jane O’Sullivan chooses the best from the Melbourne Art Fair (p32), while Mira Calix’s forthcoming installation is reviewed (p36). We talk design and violence with MoMA’s Paola Antonelli (p48). Trends are integral to the business of design and in this issue Annie Reid talks to Kim Chadwick from Colourways about this year’s Trend Forecasting Workshop (p54).

In Profile is Travis Walton (p40) one of the busiest, up and coming designers in Australia and in Practice we discover how Geyer (p44) has helped shape a slice of Australian design over the decades.

Our projects are varied but in essence they all have a particular beauty and style. There are two refurbishments of architectural gems: fmd architects’ Deco Residence (p80) and Greg Natale’s Rosemont Stud (p64). The interiors of both are outstanding for their sympathetic and exciting design, and for the ability of the respective designer to interpret the desires and requirements of their clients. From one end of the spectrum to another, Cancer Council Victoria (p88) has moved into new premises and a recently established design company, Hot Black, completed the project with great flair and in record time. Hare + Klein’s Mosman House (p58) is typically divine, while Durbach Block Jaggers’ Balmain Apartment (p72) is robust, elegant and a fine example of this firm’s stylistic intelligence.

So settle back and enjoy this special bumper issue of (inside). As you turn each page you will be proud, just as we are, of the talent, diversity and expertise that is Australian design. Congratulations to the IDEA 2014 winners and those who received commendations, but most of all to everyone who entered. We look forward to talking with you in 2015 and seeing your projects for the next Interior Design Excellence Awards.

Jan and Gillian

Co-editors of (inside) Interior Design Review

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