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Week in review

March 23, 2012

Sydney’s infrastructure highs and lows, new designs for The High Line in New York and Melbourne’s suburbs ‘making people fat’. Our round-up of this week’s architecture and design news.

Sydney’s infrastructure made the headlines twice this week, with the city celebrating a milestone ‘birthday’ for one of its icons, only to see another thrown to the curb. The Sydney Harbour Bridge became an octogenarian on Monday, marking 80 years since the Bridge first opened to the public on 19 March 1932. Later in the week, however, the writing was on the wall for the considerably younger monorail, with the NSW government announcing plans to scrap the twenty-four-year-old network “as soon as possible”. The under-utilised system will be removed as part of plans to redevelop the area around the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Premier Barry O’Farrell and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian revealed the plans on Friday, with the Premier commenting: “The real problem with the monorail, I think for most Sydneysiders, is that it doesn’t actually go anywhere that you want to go.”

Over in New York, the city’s former West Side Improvement rail network – originally built in the 1930s – has been undergoing years of redevelopment. The defunct freight rail track, which had ceased operation in 1980, has now been transformed into The High Line – an innovative and hugely successful urban park designed by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planting designer Piet Oudolf. Now, plans for the final section of The High Line have been unveiled. The third and final stage, which will cost an estimated US$90 million, will be closely integrated with the regeneration of the Hudson Rail Yards, and is expected to reopen in early 2014.

Back on home soil, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority announced that Bob Nation had been appointed as design director for the controversial Barangaroo development. Australian architect Nation has been in practice for over 40 years, and is currently a senior architect at RMJM. In the new role, he will provide design advice to the Barangaroo Delivery Authority on Lend Lease’s proposals for the site, alongside design advisers Karl Fender, Keith Cottier and Richard Nugent.

In Adelaide on Wednesday, acronyms were the order of the day when the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) revealed the winners of its annual Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards (AAAA). The Institute’s most prestigious prize – the Gold Medal – was presented to architect Lawrence Nield, in recognition of his contribution to architecture in Australia and internationally over a career that spans 45 years. For more, read our story here.

Melbourne’s suburbs are making us fat, says a recent Victorian State Government inquiry. As The Age reports, the inquiry claims poorly planned suburbs are providing inadequate public transport, parks and medical services – leaving residents overly reliant on private transport and exacerbating the “epidemic” of obesity and diabetes. One Melbourne doctor, Margaret Beavis, told the inquiry: ”When it comes to urban planning, we are building suburbs that in 20 years will be ghettos of ill health.”

In the UK, all eyes might be on East London’s Olympic Park as the new stadiums are completed in time for the London Olympics – but further north in Glasgow, construction has begun on the rubbish church. As the BBC reports, “Grand Designs meets Scrapheap Challenge” as the Colston Milton Parish Church plans to build a new community centre from four tonnes of beer cans, a dozen redundant shipping containers, 300 industrial pallets, and 500 used car tyres. Hannah Buss, a trainee architect working on the project, says the majority of the building work will be done by the community: “All the techniques that we’re hoping to work with will be techniques that anyone can get involved with… There will be some aspects of the building that we will need to get people in. But we’re hoping that the majority of it will be built by the hands of people in Milton.”

And finally this week, some light relief for the weekend: first came Unhappy Hipsters, and now we’re enjoying the potty mouthed humour of this Tumblr, mocking some familiar interior design clichés from around the web.

Images The High Line final stage, plans by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, images courtesy Friends of The High Line.

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