Demolition starts at Enrico Taglietti’s Flynn Primary School

May 10, 2011

Residents claim demolition work at Enrico Taglietti’s Flynn Primary School in Canberra may be illegal.

Demolition work has begun at the Flynn Primary School in Canberra, designed by architect Enrico Taglietti in 1972, following a four-year struggle between Flynn residents, the architect, the ACT’s Heritage Council and now the state’s Supreme Court.

Demolition work has reportedly started inside the school, despite there being no approved development proposal for the site – a move that Flynn spokesperson Roger Nicoll claims may account to a criminal damage.

“With the heritage aspects of the site still before the ACT Supreme Court, we are concerned that the demolition crews may be doing serious and costly damage to known heritage assets which could be a criminal offence under the ACT Heritage Act,” said Nicoll.

Flynn residents and Taglietti are appealing against a decision made in June 2010 by the ACT Heritage Council not to list the school on the heritage register. The group has taken the appeal to the ACT Supreme Court, claiming the Heritage Council had been influenced by “irrelevant matters”.

The ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services has lodged a development application for a new childcare centre on the site – but approval is yet to be granted. Nicoll said: “The department has completely jumped the gun by prescribing a use and damaging the heritage and community assets before these guiding policies and plans are in place.

“Whether the department thinks that smashing down walls and other key architectural features is refurbishment or demolition, they open themselves to allegations of criminal damage and contempt of fair court process,” he added.

Taglietti’s Flynn Primary School, completed in 1972, is considered an important early example of open-plan classrooms, with an architectural form guided by the educational philosophy for ‘team teaching’ in primary schools. After the school was closed by the state government in 2006, the project was nominated for citation on the heritage register in 2007, a move endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Italian-born Taglietti is a celebrated practitioner of the late-twentieth century organic style. Taglietti moved to Canberra from Milan in 1956 to work on the Italian Embassy, and has lived in the ACT since then – working on a striking range of residential and public works across the state. Taglietti was awarded the AIA Gold Medal for architecture in 2007.

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