Architecture of place

Page 46

Architecture of place

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On the Cover Interpretation sketch of the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre by Cumulus Studio, with the landscape arrival reflecting the multitude of endemic landscapes of the region, including buttongrass plains and temperate rainforests. Cover artwork by Eloyse McCall.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Victorian Chapter and Editorial Committee respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

With thanks to our Gold Patron Carey Lyon

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02 President’s message 05 Chapter news 10 Editorial 12 Feeling climate 18 After Warracknabeal 22 Designing in sensitive environments 26 Experience-based architecture 30 Place value 34 Exploring markets 36 Architecture as host 40 Office of the Victorian Government Architect 42 Slice 44 Profile Contents Managing Editor Simon Tengende Editorial Director Emma Adams Guest Editor Keith
Editorial Committee James Staughton (Chair) Elizabeth Campbell Laura Held Yvonne Meng
Noxon Sarah Lynn Rees
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A rich architecture of place

Our understanding of place is inherently subjective. This subjectivity has resulted from many thousands of years of evolution, translations, histories, heritage, dreamtime and occupation. How we regard place and the ownership of this is contentious and is governed by actions, attitudes and economics.

This issue of Architect Victoria, guest edited by Keith Westbrook, begins to set out the varying conditions that impact and define place. What are the social conditions that result and how can we find more meaningful ways of understanding and responding to place?

With the recent summer fires that ravaged communities and wildlife, the conversation very quickly turned to our ability as a country to look to our First Nations People to lead and inform us as to how best to manage the land that we reside on.

A recognition of our ignorance and naivety when it comes to being reliant upon those who know, those who understand place and how it responds and evolves.

and regarding it as a condition associated with tabula rasa denies our ability to understand and comprehend the inherent social and civic responsibilities that underpin our capacity to provide for communities and to allow for these to prosper and be vibrant. As architects we carry this responsibility. It is important that we continually seek ways to drive this agenda and ensure that what we build stands ethically tall.

Our recent super forum that brought together the Victorian Chapter’s sustainable architecture, small, medium, large and regional practice forums tackled the issue of climate action. How we as individuals and as a collective can achieve very real, incremental change. With contributions from Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture), Craig Harris (Low Impact Development), Stefan Preuss (OVGA), Professor Peter Newton (Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living), Davina Rooney (Green Building Council of Australia), Nadine Samaha (Level AK), Jacinda Sadler (Sadler Architects) and David Wagner (Atelier Wager), it is evident that complacency will no longer be tolerated so let’s get on with assisting change.

Longevity is key to understanding the principles that drive the need for climate action. The building of place is essential in supporting and underpinning a sustainable future. Ignoring place

I would like to thank Keith Westbrook and the considered reflections provided by the various contributing voices for this edition. It is a layered and nuanced topic. I would also like to acknowledge the very important role this publication plays. As architects we are trained to think laterally, to question, understand and challenge. This often leads to an industry that is made up of a variety of views, insights and convictions which have been informed by education, peers, mentors and the places that we have experienced and worked within. This is what makes for rich and diverse conversations. This is to be celebrated, and this publication provides the very forum for this to occur. Thank you to Emma Adams for her detailed oversight, the Editorial Committee James Staughton (Chair), Elizabeth Campbell, Laura Held, Yvonne Meng, John Mercuri, Justin Noxon, Sarah Lynn Rees and Keith Westbrook for continually pushing for relevant agendas, past and present guest editors and contributors, and Carey Lyon for his generous support as patron.

As we stand amid an evolving pandemic and the lasting impact that these conditions impose on our society as a whole, we cannot forget about those who have been impacted by the summer fires. Reaching out and reminding people that you are there is imperative. Over the coming months we will provide you with updates regarding the provision of additional support at a state and national level. Wishing you all a safe 2020.

Victorian Chapter President
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Victorian Chapter

Earlier this year I'm sure no-one would have picked up how much the COVID-19 virus would play havoc with our way of life, including social, cultural and professional activities. As most of us settle into working from home or remotely, I hope that this edition of Architect Victoria provides you with some literary respite from what’s currently happening. While we continue to monitor this space, it is clear that there are still multiple opportunities for the profession to engage in meaningful discussion and action. This was evident at the well-attended Climate Action Forum supported by RMIT University in Melbourne with all proceeds going to Architects Donate— our national campaign to support post-fire design and rebuild programs across Australia. This was balanced by the Pro Bono CPD event, which focused on the fantastic work being done by Architects without Frontiers. With many planned events now suspended or cancelled, I encourage our members and readers

Practice of Architecture Committee

Matt Gibson

Over 2019 the committee said goodbye to Hayley Franklin, Megan Dwyer and Con Moschoyiannis, thank you very much for your contributions. A special thank you to Hayley for her significant and long serving contribution as National Practice Committee (NPC) representative for four years. The Victorian practice committee welcomed Ian Briggs (Chapter Council), Regina Bron (Building Regulations Advisory Committee) and Aimee Goodwin (Small Practice Forum) from the early part of 2019.

It was a year with many of-the-moment issues to deal with along with the regular tasks – that of collating and identifying practice issues for elevation to the National Practice Committee or for the writing, reviewing or briefing of Acumen notes. 2019 started in earnest with a meeting to review the Lacrosse finding and followed throughout the year with extraordinary meetings with the Chapter President, CEO, Planned Cover and the Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV) to work through issues surrounding Professional Indemnity Insurance, Ministerial Orders and the changing nature of the built environment and what it means for practitioners.

Thank you to Karen McWilliam for once again drafting several briefing notes on topics such as mental health, student commissions and novation, and to

to continually seek up-to-date information from the Chapter through our website.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge Chapter President, Amy Muir, for her efforts over the past two years. Amy has worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the profession. Joining us on the Victorian Chapter Council in 2020 are Nadine Samaha, David Wagner, Sophie Cleland, Jeremy Schluter, Aimee Goodwin, Daniel Moore and Tom Huntingford. I am pleased to be working with you all. We also thank outgoing Chapter Councillors, Vanessa Bird, Ian Briggs, Rosemary Burne, Jocelyn Chiew, Daniel Soetjahjono, Camilla Tierney and Keith Westbrook. Congratulations to Keith, who has been selected to join the 2020 Australian Institute of Architects Dulux Study Tour, and Jocelyn on your appointment to National Council.

Daniel Moore for his briefing note on electronic communications – all of which led to becoming published Acumen notes. Thanks to Bruce Allen for his consistent conversations with the ARBV on critical insurance matters.

Throughout 2019 the practice committee worked closely with the small, medium and large practice forums to amplify current topics and disseminate information quickly via Odd Spots in Vmail. Bank loan and ABIC issues are continuing to be reviewed by Warwick Mihaly and Aimee Goodwin. Thank you to Ian Briggs who attended all recent NPC meetings and to David Sainsbury for his ongoing expertise. At the start of 2020 we say goodbye to Daniel Moore (as our Emerging Architects and Graduates Network representative) thank you, and welcome Charlotte Churchill.

Architect Victoria
Chapter news
Victorian Executive Director Simon Tengende

Sustainable Architecture Forum

Toner and I attended as sustainable architecture delegates for the Institute. Passionate speakers urged a just transition to a low-carbon future and a full-scale response to the climate emergency.

brought architects face to face with people interested in increasing the sustainable performance of their projects.

The 2020 Sustainability Living Festival's program of events brought together leaders and citizens seeking real action on the climate change and biodiversity emergencies. Jane

Student Organised Network for Architecture

The Institute's Sustainable Architecture Forum ran three events on the climate emergency theme. Neville Cowland and Jacinda Sadler shared insights into how they design to reduce climate and environmental impacts. Jane Toner and I detailed principles and strategies for aligning the built environment with nature. The final event, Ask an Architect Anything about Climate Action,

Victorian Chapter member forums organised the Climate Action Forum, supported by RMIT. Attended by architects and academics, the forum highlighted the need for immediate collective action. Many architects recently expressed interest in starting a new working group in our forum. We welcome new members and ecourage everyone to become involved. Meetings and events are shared through Victorian Chapter media channels.

At the commencement of semester in 2020 there are many exiting initiatives and opportunities. The discussion board established by the SONA committee for the Melbourne School of Design in mid-2019 is continuing to grow with over 600 members at the time of writing. The board has expanded the scope of its operations by bringing other faculty-associated

Awards Committee

The 2020 Awards season is well underway with Victoria receiving

student clubs into the fold. Moving forward the group will be jointly coordinated by a committee made up of executive teams from each of the Architecture Building and Planning student clubs with the intention that it becomes a one-stop-shop for students to connect and hear about events happening around Melbourne. The continued development of the board creates a significant opportunity for student culture at the University of Melbourne as student clubs have not collaborated on a mutually beneficial project such as this in recent history. The hope over the coming semester and year is that this collaboration will begin to germinate an active and cooperative culture between the student clubs, their committees and members.

Furthermore, SONA is intending to foster cross-institutional collaboration through events such as the proposed Super-crits. Inspired by the thriving culture that exists between the London architecture schools, the Super-crits are intended as large-scale presentations by students from the various architecture faculties at Victorian universities on how their work relates to a given theme. They will then receive feedback from a collected group of practitioners and tutors. These are just two of the initiatives that SONA will be seeking to further this year and will compliment a plethora of official events run by SONA Victoria making for a busy and exciting year ahead.

235 entries. Presentations to Juries was to take place as part of the Melbourne Design Week program at RMIT Design Hub in the city. And while the event was suspended due to growing concerns around COVID-19 and in particular social distancing, the Victorian Chapter is commited to run the 2020 Awards with a format that will navigate the current restrictions and keep members safe,

while maintaining the integrity of the National Architecture Awards program. We would like to thank all 2020 entrants for their understanding and patience during this time.

Congratulations on your extraordinary efforts to date. We wish you all the best for the duration of the program.

of place
Chapter news

Victorian Architecture Awards —2020

Check for updated information on the 2020 awards at

Architect Victoria

Emerging Architects and Graduates Network

up for our packed calendar once again. Look out for intros on our @emagnvic Instagram page! I'd also like to say a huge thank you to Camilla Tierney, who has stepped down from her co-Chair role, for her years of contribution. We will soon be releasing more information on our ever-popular podcast, Hearing Architecture, CPD programs curated for graduates, forums and other exciting collaborative projects, so tune in to our social media for more information.

are all ears to any ideas that we could support and provide advocacy for. We look forward to making more positive contributions within our community and also support our members across the state. As always, please reach out to us at emagnvic@ or our social media networks.

EmAGN is off to a flying start with the new decade. We have welcomed fresh faces for incoming committee members for 2020 and started gearing

Medium Practice Forum

In 2020, we continue to support other committees across the Institute, with our involvement in CPD, education, research in practice and Chapter Council, and also open our arms to other Institute partners. We

The Medium Practice Forum convened through 2019 to discuss diverse topics and several real-time issues as they developed through what was a hectic year for the architecture and building industry. Contract administration forums were led by James Staughton (Workshop Architecture) and David Wagner (Atelier Wagner) in March covering current topics such as the refusal of many banks to approve construction loans for architectadministered contracts, deposits within contracts now required under recent ABIC changes, contract administration fee methods, contingency and general quality control.

In May a second forum on contract administration was led by Mel Bright (Studio Bright) and Jonathon Boucher (BE Architecture) looking at methods for efficient process, the managing of resource time, special conditions of ABIC, handover and defects, and builders and social media. July saw Simon Knott (BKK) and myself (MGAD) talk about dispute resolution. What the best methods are to prevent disputes and where unavoidable what options are available to architects.

In September Tristan Wong (SJB) and Brett Nixon (NTF) discussed Human Resources management and office culture – creation of the right office culture, staff reviews, employee contracts, professional development and empowering and maintaining great staff.

In November a combined forum was held at the request of the Victorian Chapter with small, medium and large practice forums attending to talk about the plight of the building industry in light of the recent VCAT rulings and Ministerial Orders with relation to Professional Indemnity

Insurance. Amy Muir (Chapter President) and Tim Leslie (Large Practice Forum) provided insight into how the Institute was progressing with a new Code of Novation and how it was advocating for regulatory reform. A large thank you to David Wagner, Jon Boucher and Albert Mo whom together managed the Medium Practice Forum throughout 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020. The first topic for 2020 will be reporting back on the Financial Benchmarking Survey carried out in late 2019. The Small Practice Forum have co-ordinated a similar questionnaire and will combine with the Medium Practice Forum to provide detailed and real information back (to practices who participate) on the state of the architectural industry. This will illuminate current trends on how practices perform including operational aspects and methods and how practices set themselves up financially.

Architecture of place
08—09 Chapter news

Local context

Kim Irons is Chair of the Victorian Chapter's Regional Practice Forum. Kim was invited to provide an extended report and looks at how architects working in regional areas could be supported through engagement with city-based practices, particularly with rebuilding work, which in turn could further enhance economic and social sustainability.

It is opportune that this edition of Architect Victoria focuses on regional tourism. While tourism contributes to the broader tourist dollar from international visitors, its direct impact on the economy of a local place can be hit and miss depending on the type of travel. As highlighted by many in Port Campbell, for instance, with few of the tour operators stopping in local towns, instead their passing dollar is absorbed by the larger tourist suppliers and destinations. Not dissimilar to the cruise ship phenomena of Venice and other cities. Cultural tourism has been recognised as a growing influence with visitors seeking cultural immersion,

something reflective of the heritage of the place. However, much of our regional architecture associated with these destinations and tourist attractions are typically designed by architects from outside the region, often city-based, offering a fresh perspective and objective eye. We know for the most part they are exemplars of high quality architecture responsive to place. However, does this miss the opportunity to embed an architecture with potentially more intimate knowledge of local place and community? If we supported use of regional architects or, at the very least, supported partnerships between citybased and local practices, could we start to see an even richer architecture of place?

Is this also our architectural version of passing cruise ships or could the engagement of regional practices also contribute to the social and economic sustainability of place? This seems even more relevant following extensive loss of landscape and properties in the recent bushfires. Governments have advocated the use of local builders and suppliers to

encourage local employment and a sustained economy.

While the overwhelming generosity of architects to pro bono services to assist with recovery has been positive, do we need to review what this might look like? Some architects in these areas have been directly impacted by the loss of their own properties. Should our pro bono services be offered directly to those who have lost property or would we be better to contribute pro bono services through our colleagues in those areas? The collaboration of local architects on Ballarat Open House provides a useful example, celebrating local design. This could enhance contributions to local economy and culture. We recognise that the increase of architects with extensive experience outside capital cities is directly commensurate with the increase in population and tourism growth in regional Australia. Regional forums meet regularly to discuss design, practice and procurement in their areas and also provide representation of the profession and a collective voice to local issues.

Architect Victoria

Architecture of place

Over the last few months we have witnessed many regional areas impacted by bushfires; the destruction of buildings, flora and fauna with thick smoke blanketing many other parts of the state. Regional communities rely heavily on visitors to support jobs and local economy, so much so that the premier has announced a program for over 115 major organisations to hold multi-day stays in affected areas – to attract visitors back to these regions.1 And while more will need to be done to combat the impacts of COVID-19, it does highlight the importance of tourism in Victoria and the infrastructure and architecture that supports it.

Travelling locally and globally, it’s clear that there is a relationship between tourism and architecture.

The two have been interrelated for centuries from pilgrimages to temples, to the era of the grand tours. What was once an educational rite of passage has now evolved beyond education into a leisure activity. There is a perception that tourism architecture is all about the image of architecture, and while that’s true to some degree, it’s not necessarily the key driver of these projects.

The major impact Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum had

on the small city of Bilbao in Spain is ‘a phenomenon whereby cultural investment plus showy architecture is supposed to equal economic uplift for cities down on their luck.’2 Today, tourism has arguably moved beyond this, with examples such as MONA museum in Tasmania demonstrating benefit to whole local economy while providing a truly evolving and unique experience to bring visitors back for more and more. In these instances, architecture has played a major role in the attraction's success, either as an attractor (the object of tourism) or as the container to house, heighten and orchestrate experiences. Research suggests that ‘visitors seek an authentic experience and wish to be “immersed” in the place they are visiting’3, so in these facilities which engage with history, culture, landscape and ecology as primary design requirements, how can the profession engage in creating architecture which is of its place and not purely an architectural attraction for mass consumption?

In this issue of Architect Victoria, expert contributors explore cultural tourism and how architecture can shape and heighten authentic visitor experiences. The responses cover a range of viewpoints, from Architecture

designing in sensitive environments, through to notions of presence and authenticity.

Kerstin Thompson's article explores the positive transformation of sites as well as the intricacies of designing in places with significant existing cultural, architectural and heritage value. One of KTA’s projects, Riversdale, lies between both flood zones and areas affected by the recent bushfires, bringing into question if there is an opportunity for a new type of bushfire eco-tourism to educate on the impacts of fire and the subsequent regeneration of the environment.

Focusing on regional western Victoria, Tom Morgan, Charity Edwards and Jason Crow from Monash University’s Department of Art, Design and Architecture uncover the true story of the abandoned silos and the paradox of the visual representation of a bygone era of agriculture versus the reality of a booming industry. Through this lens they discuss the transformational project, After Warracknebeal, focusing on the community-led evolution of a small town in the Wimmera.

Across Bass Strait, almost 20 per cent of Tasmania’s land mass is designated as the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, one of the last temperate wildernesses in the world. Peter Walker from Cumulus Studio discusses sustainable tourism in relation to several of the practice's well-known projects situated nearby and within these World Heritage areas. He investigates how architects can respect and contribute to the protection of significant natural sites. Adrian FitzGerald, also discusses sensitive environments, looking at the cultural tourism work of Denton Corker Marshall (DCM) from Stonehenge in the UK, and the Australian Pavilion in Venice, through to current projects in Victoria. DCM aim to enhance the special identity of a place through one of three approaches: subsume into the landform, tread lightly, or boldly contrast with the landscape.

of Place

With a focus on Victorian projects, Scott Balmforth from TERRIOR examines the role of architecture within the tourism economy and their approach to designing location-based experiences that are created upon cultural, spatial and ecological understandings of each place, as opposed to an iconic architecture driven by form.

Elizabeth Campbell considers the intersection between the urban, architectural and natural environments, and how people interact with these junctions. Her article explores the history of market buildings with a focus on South Melbourne Market as both tourist attraction and a reflection of local culture, heritage and geography.

In the final article, Gregory Burgess questions why architects focus on the image of architecture. He recounts and reflects upon memories of being present and asks if we can improve the responsiveness of architecture though our own experiences. Gregory has a collaborative approach to designing buildings that engages with local culture, community and Country. Architecture plays a big role in tourism; shaping the visitor’s experience and perception of place, and when designed well, benefits the local community in which it is embedded.

Keith Westbrook is a registered architect and director of Cumulus Studio. During his 13 years of industry experience, Keith has primarily focused on bespoke architectural projects in the public realm. He currently runs Cumulus Studio’s Victorian office where the practice continues to develop their portfolio of cultural tourism projects. He has been a juror for the Victorian Architecture Awards and a sessional lecturer and guest reviewer at Monash University. He is currently a member of the Architect Victoria Editorial Committee and outgoing Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter Councillor.



2 Rowan Moore (2017), the Guardian www.theguardian. com/artanddesign/2017/oct/01/bilbao-effect-frank-gehryguggenheim-global-craze

3 Kim Lehman, Mark Wickham, and Dirk Reiser, 'Modelling the Government/Cultural Tourism Marketing Interface', Tourism Planning and Development 14, no. 4 (2017): 467-482.

Architect Victoria
‘how can the profession engage in creating architecture which is of its place and not purely an architectural attraction for mass consumption?’

Feeling climate

Can the architecture of tourism ever be anything other than parasitic when the basis for the touristic experience is the site's pre-existing value and interest? Some of our tourism projects have used architecture as a means to kick off a transformation – ecological, economic, social – in situations where the status quo is somehow wanting or in need of repair. For instance, our visitor centre for the Australian Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne was part of a broader initiative to regenerate a former sand mine for future generations as a botanical garden celebrating the variety and splendour of Australian natives. In this scenario, upon its completion the debate centred around whether the architecture complimented, or not, the future landscape of merit, not whether it had devalued an existing one.

More problematic are commissions for tourism projects which occupy sites of considerable existing value. Here, the key challenge for architecture is how not to undermine the very attribute most valued and therefore central to the visitor experience. In other words, how not to kill the host.

The Riversdale Masterplan for the Bundanon Trust is an example of this exact conundrum. A site with the big three exceptionals in cultural tourism – cultural, architectural and environmental heritage – its value for visitors is underpinned by the Boyd family’s artistic legacy, the renowned architecture of the BEC building by Murcutt Lewin Lark and a remarkable landscape.

The primary mission of the Bundanon Trust is the appreciation of art and environment and the protection of its cultural and environmental heritage. The Masterplan we undertook with Wraight Associates, Atelier Ten and Craig Burton in 2017 (about to start construction) outlines the built form, supporting infrastructure, landscape and vegetation management strategy required to expand Riversdale’s facilities. This expansion will enable Bundanon Trust to extend its public programs in arts and education; increase general visitation especially by opening up the significant art collection to the public through a gallery; accommodate a greater range and scale of events and continue to manage and repair the broader site ecology.

Acknowledging the sensitivities and complexities around this next stage of development at Riversdale, the new works will accommodate increased visitation in ways that preserve the estate’s most cherished qualities, particularly its experience as a remote cultural retreat and its ecological, artistic and cultural history. There have been at least six significant periods in the evolution of these lands. These include Aboriginal occupation as part of the Dharawal Nation, Yuin people and Wodi Wodi Clan groups and then through European settlement marked by land grants and stock routes, rural estates and improved estates. On a site that has already undergone several rounds of buildings, the additional visitor facilities will be part of the latest period which encompasses the Boyd Estates to the present Bundanon Trust: the subterranean Arthur Boyd Gallery and Collection Store and the Bridge – collocated adjacent to the historic Boyd cluster to achieve a centralised heart united by a common forecourt.

Pivotal to the new visitor experience will be the invitation to compare through the architecture, Boyd’s imaginary landscape with the actual one around them, to continue the established conversation between art and environment. The tension and interplay between the natural and imagined, indigenous and exotic landscape appealed to Boyd and was fundamental to his vision. →

→ Right Shoalhaven River with Rose, Burning Book and Aeroplane (1981) by Arthur Boyd. Arthur Boyd’s work reproduced with the permission of Bundanon Trust

→ Next page Riversdale Masterplan for the Bundanon Trust by Kerstin Thompson Architects. Dharawal Country

Architecture of place

This offered us much to draw upon in framing Riversdale's future. For example, sited to highlight the contrast of clearing to bush, proportions of windows and their placement to capture Arthur Boyd’s favourite views, breathing interiors sympathetic to the painting practice en plein air (painting outdoors).

Further, this rare conflation of inspiration (source) and reception (place) motivated an architecture that is both attractor and container: an attractor that adds another chapter to the legacy of the BEC building by Murcutt Lewin Lark and a container for accommodating the activities central to the Trust’s mission.

Boyd’s Shoalhaven paintings are of course powerful visual renderings of the Shoalhaven landscape. The new works at Riversdale will supplement this painterly understanding with a systems-based, ecological one. A vast network of river systems, in-tact bush and productive farming, this is a dynamic landscape in which different cycles work in parallel – hour, day, season, millennia, extreme periods of fire and flood – and inevitably reveal signs of its evolution, and the various forces that continue to shape it. Beyond a scenographic appraisal of the site’s beauty, the integrated design of buildings, landscapes and site

infrastructure will forge an authentic visitor experience structured around an environmental continuum that extends well beyond the official site boundary.

While the architecture of both the gallery and the bridge is at once dramatic and subtle, spectacular and performative, assertive and deferential, their moderation of climate is radically different according to function. The Arthur Boyd Gallery and Collection Store is housed underground. Its inherent passive thermal stability will protect the precious artworks from the site’s dramatic climate variations and reduce the need for mechanical systems. It also acts as a bushfire

Architecture of place

refuge and forms the reinstated hill to preserve the setting of the BEC. As a counterpoint to this the bridge building is in the spirit of plein air with a lower level of climate control appropriate to its use for workshops, accommodation, cafe and dining where indoor-outdoor flow is desirable. Variations in temperature, light, humidity and wind are opportunities for visitors to perceive place. Imagined as a piece of infrastructure, the singularity of the bridge’s form serves as datum to highlight the distinctive, undulating topography of Shoalhaven, an alternate interpretation of touching the earth lightly. Recalling the trestle bridges endemic to flood landscapes such as this, the new structure allows sporadic waters to flow beneath it and, importantly, for the reinstatement of the wet gully ecology, for children’s exploration and delight.

Postscript to fires

The Riversdale site faces the threat of flood from the river to the east and the threat of fire from forests to the north and west. Between the lines of the 100-year flood and an adequate asset protection zone lay a slither of available land for these new works. In a devastating show of just how vulnerable the site is, the road to Bundanon was burnt from the voracious path of January’s fires. Yet in this now post-apocalyptic scape of ashen earth and tinder sticks that is the future visitor’s prelude to Riversdale’s remaining beauty, there lies much opportunity for a new kind of eco-tourism: to learn about fire, its impact on and transformation of our ecologies. Repeat visits over several

years could be a way for visitors to experience the various stages of regeneration starting now when towns, especially on the New South Wales south coast need the economic boost. Bundanon Trust’s core business on the Riversdale site is school children. Imagine a curriculum structured around climate flux and environmental extremes: an authentic experience necessarily contingent on these vicissitudes, more than ideal states of poster blue skies and calm shores. Here instead is a kind of tourism that through purpose, place and practice can index the dynamism at the heart of Australia’s landscapes. From future vantage points we might witness the change in texture and silhouette of Arthur Boyd’s favourite hills as this damaged landscape renews.

Kerstin Thompson is Principal of KTA and Adjunct Professor at RMIT and Monash universities. A committed design educator she regularly lectures and runs studios at various schools across Australia and New Zealand. An Australian Institute of Architects Life Fellow, Kerstin plays an active role promoting quality design within the profession and through her talks and writings as a panellist on the Office of the Victorian Government Architect Design Review Panel.

Architect Victoria
→ Left Riversdale bridge render by Kerstin Thompson Architects. The new structure will allow water to flow beneath and the reinstatement of wet gully ecology. Dharawal Country
‘Acknowledging the sensitivities and complexities around this next stage of development at Riversdale, the new works will accommodate increased visitation in ways that preserve the estate’s most cherished qualities’

After Warracknabeal

In the Wimmera, the conversion of disused wheat silos has created potential pathways out of traditional patterns of rural decline. In towns such as Brim, Nullawil, and Patchewollock, these art-led transformations have spurred tourist visits and catalysed surrounding networks and ecosystems. Treating infrastructure as large public canvasses has created an armature for a new truth-experience. However, the act of fabrication, whether making buildings or telling stories about them, can also reinforce existing views, approaches and understandings. As architects and designers operating in this region, we have been forced to reassess our own work in relation to the authenticity of this emerging reality. By relating our experiences in the After Warracknabeal courthouse project, we cast our initial design and subsequent restaging of the on-going refurbishment within the broader context of the Silo Art Trail. We suggest architecture can no longer be a simple signifier. Ultimately, our goal is to identify ways in which architecture becomes a platform for facturing authenticity (broadly defined modes of artisanship and making in general), as exemplified in the history of the silo canvas embedded in contemporary regional Victoria.

As outsiders, we initially understood Warracknabeal, a small town along the Silo Art Trail, as a regional centre in decline. Without a creative solution, we imagined continued downturns in population and economic activity, leading to a slow death. The After Warracknabeal project offered Warracknabeal an afterlife through an ambitious plan to transform its disused courthouse into a tourist drawcard. A radical architectural intervention into the site would create a small art hotel to attract tourists including artists. Under the auspices of Working Heritage, a public trust managing heritage places on Crown land in Victoria, the existing building would be revitalised for cultural and artistic use by the broader community. We sought to introduce and refine a prototype for regional transformation through creative practice, which could ultimately offer the chance of being replicated in other areas throughout Victoria and Australia.

The existing courthouse building was in good shape but needed significant interior renovation to create a multipurpose space for a working art studio, exhibition space, and flexible community facilities. Our approach was to maintain the

historical integrity of the building, only making changes required by the new program. These included removing the built-in furniture and some walls to create a larger space. The existing eastern annexe would house utility spaces – a kitchen, accessible bathroom, and external deck. In addition, a capsule-cabin was proposed for the northern edge of the site to host artist residencies. Placed amid a rewilded landscape, the capsule-cabin would set the big night sky in dialogue with the courthouse. When not accommodating artists, the cabin would be made available as a boutique art hotel.

After extended consultation and conversation with local residents during our visits to develop the After Warracknabeal project, we questioned our understanding of the region. How and why did the Silo Art Trail offer a more true experience of the region than we perceived, as visitors? We realised the project could not continue as we had imagined. The project must build upon the experiences of the people who call it home and the infrastructural landscape, which they inhabit. This meant developing a deeper understanding of the silos, which not only paint the landscape, but signal a more authentic experience of the Wimmera.

The Silo Art Trail has a vast repertoire of such canvases. Hundreds of tall concrete silos rise from the undulating landscape, marking the edge of a band of unusually productive clay soils that run northward from Horsham.1 They crouch at the edges of townships, as a set of visually interchangeable marks across the grain-belt of the Wimmera. There is something geological about them, as if they are more discrete eruptions of the same formations that

Architecture of place
by Tom Morgan, Charity Edwards and Jason Crow → Right After Warracknabeal proposal by Monash Art Design and Architecture. Render by Stephen Hawken. Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Country.

underlay the Grampians and Mount Arapiles. The silos read as surface manifestations of vast subterranean structures that form capstones to the tangles of steel conveyors, rail-heads, and long, barrow-like tin and timber sheds. These associated structures have long since eroded and dissipated. The silos are left as remnant outcrops. In this light, they read as the indicators of larger practices of regional retreat: residual objects, ‘reduced to landmarks of a declining rural community.’2

The implied redundancy and status of the silos, as witness to a passing community, misses a critical reality. The silos have been mothballed as farming practices have eclipsed their capacity. Infrastructures imagined and emplaced in the 1930s and 1940s are now ill-equipped for the scale and logics of these changed operations. Uniquely,

however, large-scale agri-business in Australia remains family owned and operated.3 These family farms break with extractive, industrial ideas of productivity.4 This leads to a key paradox. While the silos do function as registers of dramatic change, they are misconstrued as symbols of decline, which no longer mesh with current reality. Negative framing of the silos ignores their roles as markers of methods, approaches, and technologies that are now fundamental to the communal identity of the Wimmera. Not something geological, but rather something artefactual, requiring and inviting reappraisal and re-contextualisation. The silo in Brim was the first to be painted. Street artist Guido Van Helten’s set of towering portraits formed the nucleus of the new tourist art trail.5 The conversion of these leviathan silos into vast →

Architect Victoria

‘We now understand the towns of the region as potential sites for civic creative practice, where we support the local population in contributing their own knowledge, skills, and insight to structure their own authenticity.’

Architecture of place
→ Above Brim by Guido van Helten (2016). Image still taken from After Warracknabeal (2018): a short film by Matthew Bird, Tom Morgan and Charity Edwards, in collaboration with cinematographer James Wright, and with sound and music by Daniel Jenatsch. Wotjobaluk, Jaadwa, Jadawadjali, Wergaia and Jupagulk Country.

canvasses repeats the endeavor by Le Corbusier to render silos, as operative constructions of our modernity. The French architect gained notoriety for ‘falsifying’ photographs of silos, such as Montreal’s Silo 2. Architectural historians overlaid external values on the doctoring of the photos, rendering the work inauthentic, much as we misread the After Warracknabeal project. The benefits of possible fabricated narratives - especially around notions of redundancy and ruin – now structure a set of investigations and interventions, which we hope will invert the usual post-industrial and post-growth narrative of cultural tourism.

In the now revised After Warracknabeal project, interventions into the courthouse build from community needs for accessibility and serviceability. The project has required re-examination of what programing would most benefit the community. Our intent is to physically and figuratively open the space toward new civic creative practices. Toward this goal, a new entry ramp and threshold condition comprise a significant portion of the capital works. A new ablutions block will also be installed at the north-west corner of the courthouse. In consultation with the community, these modifications will enable the courthouse to better serve community needs. The intended flexibility extends to the ablutions block, which can be relocated to other suitable sites within Yarriambiack Shire.

The design will now function as a set of adaptive tools for the community, allowing the courthouse to serve functions beyond the ones we originally proposed: studio, gallery, and artist residence. Emerging from our most recent deliberations is a more locally-led direction for the site. The most surprising change for us was how little architecture featured in the mix. Far more pressing has been addressing the nuanced demographic shifts in the population and the creative practitioners already working in the wider region. We saw a need for diverse programming in the

refurbished building, which leverages the strong intersections between community volunteering and cultural life in Warracknabeal. To that end, our focus has shifted from the building to a pilot program of workshops in and with the community.

The process of developing this project has not only changed how we practice, it has transformed how we imagine Warracknabeal. We no longer frame regional Victoria as a place in decline. We now understand the towns of the region as potential sites for civic creative practice, where we support the local population in contributing their own knowledge, skills and insight to structure their own authenticity. Construction continues. The first stage of After Warracknabeal is due to open in mid-2020. In the meantime, we are working with members of Warracknabeal on projects that further build community through listening, caring, and making together.

Dr Tom Morgan, Charity Edwards, and Dr Jason Crow are practitionerresearchers from Monash University’s Faculty of Art, Design, and Architecture. The After Warracknabeal project is part of an emerging research agenda that explores ways in which components of design and creative praxis can be used to interrogate, animate, and activate communities and their implicit knowledges and practices. The expanded team enacting this research works across a variety of sites and communities in Melbourne, regional Victoria, and the broader Asia-Pacific context.


1 Robinson et al. (2005) Wimmera Land Resource Assessment. DPI Victoria

2 Athanasios Tsakonas (2019) Victoria’s Silo Art Trail, Fabrications, 29:2, pp 273-276,

3 Grain Growers Limited, State of the Australian Grain Industry, 2016

4 ibid

5 Athanasios Tsakonas (2019) Victoria’s Silo Art Trail, Fabrications, 29:2, pp.273-276,

6 Inspired perhaps his reading of essays written by Walter Gropius and Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier modified a series of photographs of silos, which would later be published in his Towards a New Architecture. Though barely mentioned in the text, these false images of silos would become critical exemplars of Modern Architecture. they must be maintained.

Architect Victoria

Designing in sensitive environments

We have been designing cultural tourism facilities both here and overseas for a number of years. During this time visitation has grown at extraordinary rates. Stonehenge receives 1.58 million people each year while the Architecture Biennale in Venice receives 600,000. Both are UNESCO World Heritage—listed sites of great sensitivity. Closer to home, the business case for the Shepparton Art Museum predicts growth of 10.6 per cent, while the Twelve Apostles has 1.2 million visitors, contributing $190 million to the economy.

The question facing architects is how to design tourism facilities in these highly sensitive environments. Via our work, plus current work in World Heritage Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, we posit three approaches: subsume into the landforms; tread lightly upon the land; or boldly contrast with the landscape. All of which we have adopted for different projects as appropriate.

Our first commission in 2001 for the Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre for instance, subsumes into the land. It seems to us that visitor centres for buildings or monuments pose an architectural dilemma. They exist because of another sensitive structure, but their

very presence sets up a dialogue. Scale, materials, setting and form, how does a visitor centre affect the visitor’s experience?

The power and imagery of Stonehenge derives not so much from the actual size of the monument, which is relatively small, but rather from its relationship to its setting. Stonehenge sits alone on windswept open plain. A composition of huge slabs of bluestone and sarsen stone, it is effectively a historic 4500-yearold work of land art. The experience of the stones, while monumental in the landscape, are comparatively small. To avoid overwhelming their scale we proposed to partly bury the visitor centre marking it with a series of zinc arcs exposed in the terrain. This first scheme was abandoned. We were later selected for a new, smaller scheme, 2.4 kilometres from the stones. It was briefed to have as little visual and physical impact as possible. This included below ground disturbance, as the Salisbury Plains are one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. The resultant building has the lightest possible touch with the ability to return the site to its previous state –built over fill so underground services don’t affect the heritage crust. The

building also echoes the rolling plain with a thin perforated canopy plate sitting on a pincushion of columns sheltering two simple cubic volumes containing visitor-centre uses, one transparent and mainly of glass, the other solid and mainly of timber. We also felt it was important not to overscale the stones. We wanted to ensure the vistor centre did not convey a subliminal image of the stones being smaller than they really are, so the height of the canopy roof is kept lower than the tallest trilithon, while the pods with their volume diffused by the overhanging canopy, take on an ephemeral quality of lightness in contrast to the permanence and mass of the stones. For the Australian Pavilion in the heritage Giardini della Biennale in Venice, we adopted a sculptural counterpoint to the gardens. The pavilion is a distinct presence within the Giardini of the utmost simplicity, architecturally expressed as a white box within a black box. Envisaged as a pure object rather than a building, it is a container on, and in which, ideas can be explored, where the container in no way competes with those ideas. Australia built a temporary pavilion in 1987 designed by Phillip Cox. In 2008, for the ideas competition organised by Ronnie Di Stasio, we proposed the simple black box containing a white box with no connotations whatsoever of national character. →

of place
→ Right The Australian Pavilion in the heritage Giardini della Biennale in Venice is a bold object in counterpoint to the gardens. Architecture by Denton Corker Marshall Photo by John Gollings → Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre treads lightly on the Salisbury Plains Architecture by Denton Corker Marshall
Architect Victoria 22—23

It was an interesting speculation because we have designed embassies and thought about the issue of trying to find an Australian expression overseas – the idea of how a building says something about the country it represents – Cox looked for this in vernacular Australian architecture. Having designed gallery spaces, we know artists are not enamoured in overly elaborate architecture – they just want white neutral space. So, we proposed a building, that is simply, a blank canvas and container for exhibits. Why a black box? Black objects have a history in art –Malevich’s Black Square of 1915 for one, or in cinema with Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey. We liked the reference to a black stele suddenly appearing and changing the world. We were dropping the enigmatic black object into the middle of the Eurocentric art scene and setting a challenge.

In terms of an appropriate Australianness, it seemed important to us the pavilion have memorability. Our design is unexpected in its simplicity and its austerity, stripped and reduced, startlingly simple – but utterly memorable. To achieve this you have to be confident and we see this as one of the things it expresses about Australia – a young country that now feels able to express itself confidently on the world stage.

The Shepparton Art Museum (to be completed later this year) adopts the same approach of a contrasting form placed within its lakeside parkland. It is characterised by a straightforward clarity to create a compelling cultural landmark. The restricted ground floor, required by a floodway across the site, is turned into a real opportunity by extruding the small footprint vertically over five levels, creating a distinctive small and

tall art museum. This has advantages in maximising much used park space while creating a beacon in the flat Shepparton landscape. It also offers prospect to the lake, town centre and river redgum reserve from the rooftop events space. We also applied a subsumed strategy to cleverly conceal all loading dock and service areas in an introduced landform – an art hill, extending the park up to the firststorey gallery cafe. →

Architecture of place
→ Above Shepparton Art Museum by Denton Corker Marshall (2020) adopts a tall and small bold approach. Yorta Yorta Country

On the Shipwreck Coast, Denton Corker Marshall with McGregor Coxall and Arup utilise all three approaches – subsumed, treading lightly and bold counterpoint. The Twelve Apostles lookout is perched on top of the cliffs, to both elevate and experience the scale and heightened drama of the incredible landscape. We introduced two contrasting, leaning blocks, one resting on the ground and the other cantilevering into the sky. The initial experience is unsettled, deliberately bringing visitors to a high point, framing a view downwards. An unexpected shift, by leaning the form, creates a feeling of being exposed on the edge of the world, before entering a warm, timber-lined interior providing shelter with revealing defined panoramas.

The Loch Ard Gorge blowhole is a surprising and thrilling experience. The lookout is conceptually subsumed into the landscape, revealing itself as unexpectedly as the blowhole, with a singular, sculptural shell-like object anchored in the land. The dynamic form creates ever changing views stretching the viewing perimeter while hiding much of the structure. The shell offers partial protection from the elements and is shaped to amplify the

dramatic atmosphere of sound and spray.

Nearby, the Port Campbell Creek Bridge lightly touches its environment, bringing visitors from the town into the ethereal, serene and floating experience above the water and sand before plunging into the escarpment. A lightweight suspension structure, anchored by irregular masts, provides a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal landscape.

All cultural tourism sites are distinctive and utterly unique. Approaches in either subsuming, treading lightly or contrasting can strengthen and enhance their special identity of place.

Adrian FitzGerald is a Senior Director at Denton Corker Marshall. Adrian has been an integral part of the significant growth and success of the practice over the past four decades. This has encompassed extensive international experience including 14 years in the London, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore studios. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, serving as a National Councillor and on award juries and committees.

Architect Victoria
‘The question facing architects is how to design tourism facilities in these highly sensitive environments’

Experience-based architecture

Architecture has the ability to accentuate and even create unique experiences which drive tourism. However, in a climate where too much tourism can contribute to the degradation and destruction of place values, future demand will require models in which architecture must contribute to the protection, maintenance and regeneration of those values that make places unique. Of the many reasons people travel, one of the strongest is our desire to have unique, authentic experiences. In an experience-based economy, differences born out of evolutionary pressures and geographic separation become an advantage in creating place-based uniqueness. And architecture is, in many ways, an embodiment of this uniqueness – a manifestation of culture, tradition, innovation, economics, identity and, ultimately, place. In this context, it is not surprising then that architecture plays a lead role in tourism – not only through the historical vernacular but also the contemporary icon.

As a practice Cumulus Studio has been exploring the role architecture plays in tourism. Of all the sectors in which we work, tourism development has the most scope for the creation of interesting,

iconic architecture, which can inspire and create truly lasting memories. However, how should thinking about sustainability affect our design approach?

In several of our recent projects, we have taken valuable historic buildings and, through careful treatment and accentuation of their remarkable embodied characteristics, transformed each into highly unique and industry-acclaimed tourism destinations. These include the adaptive reuse of an early 19th century apple picking shed into a cider house and museum for Willie Smith, a 1940s hydro pump station into a wilderness lodge at Pumphouse Point and Launceston’s Ritchie’s Flour Mill into boutique accommodation for Stillwater Seven. The authentic history, ideas and stories ingrained in the buildings add significant value from a tourism perspective.

Furthermore, prior to their conversion, each of the buildings had reached or passed the economic use-by-date of their original purpose. In the case of both Willie Smith’s and Pumphouse Point, the buildings had been vacant for decades and in advancing states of decay. Through adaptive reuse these buildings have been given a sustainable future that

preserves their embodied values and stories for generations to come. This is not a new idea. As architects we are challenged not just to ‘do no harm’ but also move to a model where architecture contributes towards regeneration. Recycling buildings plays a small part in our collective responsibility to create an environmentally and culturally sustainable future. And tourism provides an economically sustainable model for this.

While it is relatively easy to see how this model can work in an urban context, it is more challenging to consider in relation to natural settings. Increased visitation through intense tourism in many places is destroying the natural asset that was the original drawcard.

Currently, we are involved in two projects within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which recognise the potential for a symbiotic relationship between tourism and the natural environment.

The Viewing Shelter at Dove Lake is a public project designed to responsibly accommodate high numbers of tourists. The strategy encourages the majority of visitors to access controlled areas by increasing accessibility, while the more sensitive areas require an additional effort to access, naturally reducing visitor numbers. The architecture is solid and weighty, acting as a chapel in →

Architecture of place
→ Right Located at the end of 250-metre flume projecting into Lake St Claire, Pumphouse Point has become a tourism destination in its own right. Architecture by Cumulus Studio (2012). Photo by Stuart Gibson. Palawa Country
Architecture of place Article 28—29

which to contemplate and respect the environment in which it sits. It is designed to leave the visitor with a renewed appreciation for the place’s ancient geology, as well as an understanding of why it needs protection. The project is located on previously impacted land and enables the revegetation of damaged landscape.

Contrastingly, our project for Halls Island just outside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park involves the creation of four completely removable lightweight shelters for commercial accommodation. These shelters are tent-like, suitable for sleeping and basic bathing only. The project utilises a high-value, low-turnover approach, giving guests an authentic, close to nature, no-frills experience within a vast rugged environment. The project will also protect and rejuvenate sensitive landscape damaged by previous users of the site, which ultimately leads to a more valuable visitor experience.

In both of these projects, best practice Environmentally Sensitive Design strategies, such as siting, material use, internal environment, water systems, and energy use have all been considered. However, these two projects also aim to give back to their environment in small ways.

Above all they hope to inspire visitors to consider their environment from an alternative perspective and challenge them to act respectfully towards it.

Peter Walker is the Director and co-founder of Cumulus Studio. With over 20 years industry experience, particularly within the tourism sector and in the adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Peter has led international award winning tourism projects at Pumphouse Point, Devil’s Corner and Saffire resort (while a director at Circa Morris-Nunn Walker). He is also a former recipient of the Australian Institute of Architects (Tasmanian Chapter) Emerging Architect Prize and Dulux Study Tour.

Architect Victoria
→ Left The historic Apple Picking Shed that houses Willie Smith’s cider house, Huon Valley. Architecture by Cumulus Studio (2012) Photo by Johnathan Wherrett. Palawa Country
‘Of the many reasons people travel, one of the strongest is our desire to have unique, authentic experiences’

Place value

Cultural tourism has often resulted in the idea that the building itself is the focus of a tourist economy. For our practice, the central importance of place determines the design project.

Early projects were key in establishing and articulating key concepts central to all TERROIR projects. The planning and organisation of Peppermint Bay in Tasmania, for example, navigated between an inside-out process of incorporating key site qualities into the generative diagram and at the same time recasting a commercially oriented brief. So, notwithstanding the formal qualities, it is less about architecture as icon or commodity but founded in the creation of a location-based experience, where the ecological, spatial and cultural dimensions of site are not replaced but elaborated upon through the project.

These ideas reached maturity through a series of projects in regional Victoria, many in collaboration with Sally Hirst (Hirst Projects). Sally provides a series of important insights around the role of high-visitation public projects to a local community – both in terms of its identity and economy.

Our first collaborative project with Sally – Koondrook Wharf – is an exemplar of how this union works, combining in the project an understanding of the specific story of that place and enhancing that story through our architectural proposition, while also delivering a project that has economic benefits to the community and region. With a population of only 900 people, the removal of its wharf fifty years ago had disconnected Koondrook from an ecosystem of economy and recreation on the Murray River. Our response to a technically oriented brief to reconstruct the former wharf, questioned what a wharf would deliver, and so broadened a discourse from reinstatement to how community could once again come together at the river’s edge. This approach resonated with the community and council who could see potential in thinking through the project in an expanded way and how this would recast the way they might connect the town to the river in a specific way that differentiated from nearby towns.

By thinking about different relations and how they work across different scales, the project became a device that connects people to the

river in multiple modes. The project includes a number of actors – human and material – who have a strong relation to this place: local Indigenous artists are featured; residents and visitors can occupy platforms that weave through the river redgums, platforms made of locally sourced and milled native redgum; while a 28-metre-long single-span gangway links to a floating pontoon that allows all-year-round docking for recreational boats, large paddle steamers and house boats.

Two recent projects – one just completed and one underway – have extended these ideas and deployed them on a larger scale. The recently completed Penguin Parade Visitor Centre is a key part of a natural and financial ecosystem managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks. The site is part of the largest land buy-back for a single species in history. Completed in 2010, the Kirner Government started the process of buying back private holdings on the Summerland Peninsula. →

Architecture of place
→ Right Koondrook Wharf Architecture by TERRIOR with Hirst Projects Photo by Adam Gibson Barapa Barapa Country
Architecture of place 32—33

The design of the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre extends this logic. Like people moving out for the penguins, the previous visitor centre made way for a new penguin habitat which will add considerable resilience to the penguin population. The completed building is somewhat dramatic at present but will eventually all but disappear into the three different abutting landscapes. The building is less an icon and more of a brooch that gathers these landscapes together and responds to each in specific ways – formally and experientially.

The interior is structured around part of the overall choregraphed pathway from visitor arrival to penguin viewing experience at the beach. This spine has the capacity for large crowds (up to 4000 visitors per night) and off each side are dedicated spaces for ticketing, education, retail and hospitality. Between the spine and these spaces is a layered edge of unprogrammed and indeterminate third space which enables individual experience and interpretation. Thus, while the interior is arranged around a very simple pathway – a line in the landscape – the third space is instrumental in connecting visitors to this place; that moment when visitors pause and reflect and when this reflection generates visitor engagement.

With the Puffing Billy Railway Visitor Centre in the Dandenong Ranges, currently under construction, the challenge was how to enhance this already iconic and much-loved hero. Addressing the stresses of a massively increased visitation – half the line regularly exceeds capacity, yet only 10 per cent of visitors travel the second half, a new visitor centre was proposed in the 2017 Masterplan by Tract Consultants, at the midpoint of the railway line, Lakeside Station in Emerald Lake Park. Once part of a 180-hectare plant nursery, the beauty of the park has made it a key destination since the reopening of the line in 1955. Departing from the language of building as icon or object, we proposed a simple extension of the Lakeside platform, which foregrounds the true heroes of the experience; the trains and the landscape. Once completed, the dark-clad building will disappear somewhat, pointing visitors to what already exists at the site rather than the architecture. Thinking relationally, instead of seeing the building as the primary outcome, it intertwines economic, cultural and spatial logics with a specific ecosystem and landscape in a way that can transform all of them.

Scott Balmforth is a founding Director and Principal of TERROIR. The practice was established in Hobart and Sydney simultaneously in 1999 and expanded internationally with TERROIR ApS in Copenhagen in 2010. Scott has led a range of award-winning and internationally published architecture and urban design projects, including 2019 International Architecture Awards for Koondrook Wharf and the new Penguin Parade Visitor Centre.

Architect Victoria
→ Left Penguin Parade Visitor Centre, Phillip Island by TERRIOR Photo by Peter Bennetts Bunurong Country → Puffing Billy Railway Visitor Centre, Lakeside Station, Emerald by TERRIOR. Render by Doug and Wolf Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries

Exploring markets

Food and food culture have long, deep connections with the history of a place, reflecting settlement, geography and cultural traditions. At a human scale these qualities can frequently be seen in local recipes, food festivals and daily rituals centred around the preparation and sharing of food. But what about the architecture that provides platform to this activity? How does an architectural typology influence the way people experience food specific to place?

In many contemporary cities around the world, street names, size of urban blocks and relationship to urban fringes can be traced back through food — specifically the way in which it travelled into the marketplace to be sold, swapped and traded. This has been clearly identified in major Western cities through historical maps dating back to the 17th century, including London, New York and Rome. These urban drawings capture data showing the history of street names that were associated with the specific food trade founded upon it.

Some of these traces can also be found in Australian cities through the history of colonial settlement and the export of social structures associated with market

typologies. Melbourne is home to several traditional markets, each home to unique produce and local people. South Melbourne, Queen Victoria, Prahran and Preston markets are the most well-known. Of the four, South Melbourne is the oldest continuing market in the city at over 150 years old, although there is some debate about this claim. Historically, the role of the market has been home to generations of local families connected to the food trade, some of which have been operating under its changing roofs for over 50 years. It has also been a place for supplying fresh, local food to residents.

Throughout the twentieth century, the evolution of the market typology into supermarket – a space of convenience which offers everything under one roof, impacted the relationship between food culture and place. The supermarket also changed urban form, while a marketplace has open edges and spills into a place, a supermarket is a closed box veiled in large signs arrived at by car, a common experience anywhere in the world. This shift challenged the marketplace; however, it is not only the community reliance on South Melbourne Market that has continued

to increase, it is a place for residents of surrounding suburbs and also an attraction for a growing number of visitors keen to experience local food, people, history. The market facilitates this through offering a diverse range of opportunities for visitors to have unique interactions of food and place. Through spatial arrangement, scale of small retailers along internal streets or the permeable edges and the direct connections with stall owners, the market promotes social connection, both intimate and collective. There are places to stop, sit, eat and drink. Wide streets invite people to wander slowly, narrow spaces create bumping shoulders and main axis create direct routes through and promote faster foot traffic. These varied spaces promote different paces adding to the overall energy.

The interior environment reflects an ad-hoc layering of different times and styles. It has been renovated numerous times and is an eclectic mix of materials — brick, terrazzo, marble, timber and brass. Signage and wayfinding are additionally mixed media, some handwritten, some fonts in many different sizes. Some stalls have been thoughtfully designed, while others look as though they have not changed since they opened many →

Architecture of place

decades ago. This is a trait of markets all over the world, their function is so closely tied to the quality of produce sold and the relationships built with people over time, often the importance of a homogenous aesthetic is not necessary — and rather, the chaos adds to the energy.

There is an extensive visitation and local community rhythm to the daily and weekly operation of the market that spreads beyond into the wider realm of South Melbourne. According to the latest available annual report, visitor numbers are increasing. This foot traffic is also beneficial to businesses in the surrounding streets, many of which have been there since the late 1800s. The people behind the counters are passionate about the food they are selling; they know where it comes from, they are proud of how fresh it is and care about the way it is sold. Described as ‘a quintessential village market – a place where people love to meet, eat, drink, shop, discover, share and connect –tightly woven into the fabric of the community it serves. It is central to the culture, heritage and place of South Melbourne and its surrounds.’ The South Melbourne Market remains

historically, an example of a typical architectural typology that provides the armature for the trade of food unique to place as the market, the agora. Typically, markets were found at the centre of urban environments. They provided and continue to provide a connection to place much richer than a supermarket. They are catalytic platforms for commerce, social exchange and often informed the urban form and development of a city.

Elizabeth Campbell is a project architect at Kennedy Nolan with a broad range of experience across single and multi-residential, cultural and commercial projects. Supplementing her professional work, Elizabeth is part of the Architect Victoria Editorial Committee. She is also involved in teaching, critique and dialogue at Melbourne, Monash and RMIT universities.

Architect Victoria
‘a trait of markets all over the world, their function is so closely tied to the quality of produce sold and the relationships built with people over time, often the importance of a homogenous aesthetic is not necessary’

Architecture as host

Recently, in the middle of a bushwalk with friends through steeply folded country, I took my shoes off to go barefoot for a while. Suddenly, long protected toes and soles were registering every subtle shift of gradient, tiny stones, decomposing bark and leaves, delicate twigs. I continued, wincing, with tender footfall; reflecting on our usual way of being in nature as onlookers and wondering how Wurundjeri may have experienced this country in preEuropean times. There was a breeze. I was aware of its note as it blew across my ear. I could feel my hair lifting, the roots straining slightly. Perhaps there was an increased receptivity – we had agreed at the start that this would be a silent walk, to be as present as possible. Usually we tend to separation, lacking attentive sensing – listening, observing, beholding –and literally being out of touch with ourselves, our communities and our environment. This in turn is reflected in our architecture. In a sense, our buildings are us; they speak through their gestures. Can we improve the responsiveness of our architecture through our own experience?

In a small, tall, and darkened room, staggered lengths of muslin were suspended. A film was projected

onto these delicate screens. The camera had been placed on a rise amongst trees looking out to a site where a massacre of Indigenous people took place. In the foreground was an ancient gum, wired for sound, tiny microphones recorded and amplified the inner activity of the tree as well as the leaves brushing the branches in the wind. We could hear the fluids fluxing and flowing through the gum, insect activity, and other mysterious sounds from the inner life of the tree. White gauze bandages were wrapped around trunk and branches as if to protect open wounds; the tree perhaps in a process of healing. The camera changed from being still and focused on the tree to panning slowly through the bush, sometimes nervously, out to the massacre site giving us an uneasy sense of looking out from hiding as fugitives or being pursued and spotted by the perpetrators. We were drawn into relationship with the old tree, witnessing then bearing these ‘memories’ for almost 200 years. This work gave us a surprising perspective on nature, presence and consciousness and an affinity with a traditional Indigenous perception of the animated beings of Country, or what we can think of as the

community of interwoven beings who make up life on earth. This community includes us with our responsibility for creative caring or careless destruction.

‘The witness tree’ by Judy Watson, was part of an exhibition ‘Myall Creek and beyond’ at New England Regional Art Museum in 2018, reflecting on the massacre of 1838. This massacre is remembered each year at its site in northern NSW by a gathering including descendants of victims, perpetrators and others concerned with the task of healing. A poignant visitor experience of sorrow and intergenerational reconciliation. Architecture has a capacity to go beyond the merely visual and functional, to resonate with the complex becoming of the history, cultures, peoples and Countries of Australia. In its processes and forms, it can give voice, vision, and emotional range to communities finding or recreating themselves. It can be a catalyst for ‘upwaking’.1 The Brambuk Living Cultural Centre in Gariwerd, western Victoria, for example, embodies the stories and totems of its five communities, who were participants in an 18-monthlong series of workshops to develop its design. In its animated shadows, and the buckling, bearing and lift of its forms, it holds the suffering and mourning of the tragic past, as well as the challenges and hope of healing. This is an ongoing task; reconciliation and architecture both require maintenance, nurture and renewal. →

Architecture of place
→ Right Brambuk from the wetlands Architecture by Gregory Burgess Architects
Photo by Trevor Mein Jardwadjali and Djab Wurrung Country

The year Brambuk opened, we began working on a new cultural centre for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta World Heritage National Park. Uluru (the Rock) is sacred to Anangu – the people of the desert, and a place of pilgrimage for all Australians and many visitors to Australia. For a month, we lived and worked with the Mutitjulu community to design the centre as a celebration of joint management, a coming together of Western science and traditional wisdom. It was to be an Anangu place where they would be seen as the hosts inviting and welcoming Minga2 to their Country, to share an understanding of their culture. It would not be just a tourist place that tolerated Anangu as had been the case in the past. In those years, largely ill-informed tour bus drivers carried considerable interpretative and financial power compromising Anangu cultural and economic integrity.

The challenge here was to facilitate a collaborative process to create a building which wove together living spiritual and physical connections with Uluru, the sacred country and its people. This demanded a willingness to improvise with Anangu, in response to the events, questions and opportunities of each day. This willingness created a space of trust, synchronicity and inspiration. Personally, I found a rhythm of early morning contemplation and meditation helped me to be fully present to what was needed to allow the project to unfold out of each moment, each encounter. As a team, we worked closely, joining daily to share our experiences and thoughts about how to enliven, warm and expand the shared, middle space.

On one occasion while walking the site with Elder and artist, Nelly Patterson, she began

to talk passionately about the way the building needed to express the notion of Anangu and the NPWS rangers ‘working together as one’. Demonstrating, she cupped each of her hands and curved them into one another like two interlocking arms of a spiral galaxy. This was a vital moment. I immediately sketched her gesture in the sand at our feet. This form became the seed for the unfolding design. Whether we see the arms as being Liru and Kuniya, the two sacred serpents of Tjukurpa,3 Indigenous and non-Indigenous, inner and outer, spirit and matter; they both embrace

Architecture of place
→ Above Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre from the air. Architecture by Gregory Burgess Architects. Photo by Craig Lamotte Anangu Country → Right Sketch of Nelly Patterson's hand gesture Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre Photo by Gregory Burgess Anangu Country

the shared space – they are distinct, complementary, yet one. Habitual ways of seeing had to be abandoned so we could let the stories of Anangu and the living presence and ancestral beings of Uluru inform the emerging design. In a culture where architects may feel obliged to create visually novel and arresting objects designed to have visitors reaching for their mobile phones,4 we might aspire to create collaborative processes and design buildings which resonate with the authenticity of culture, community, and Country. The experience could evoke a lively ‘conversation’ between the building and its visitors, place, spirit and culture. As architects, as human beings, the 21st century invites us to respond to contemporary complexity with sensitivity, fluidity and the deep silence of listening. We can then invite connection, authentic presence and the dynamic of becoming into all our creative work.

Gregory Burgess practices architecture as a social, healing and ecological art. His projects, including housing, community, cultural, Indigenous, tourism, educational, health, religious, commercial, exhibition design and urban design, have received many awards. These include the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings, the Victorian Architecture Medal for the building of the year, and the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal. He is recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community for environmentally sensitive building design.


1 Ben Okri used the term ‘upwake’ in his 2019 novel, The Freedom Artist, as a call for a radical shift in consciousness.

2 Tourists or visitors, literally ants, due to the appearance of visitors in tiny moving lines on the Uluru climb before it was closed on 26 October 2019

3 Tjukurpa is the foundation of Anangu life and society. It has many complex but complementary meanings and refers to the creation period when ancestral beings created the world as we now know it but also refers to the present and future. It encompasses religion, law and moral systems, it defines the relationship between people, plants, animals and the physical features of the land, how these relationships came to be, what they mean and how they must be maintained.

4 Photos are not permitted at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre.

Architect Victoria 38—39

Should architects care about context?

‘Always design a thing by considering its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.’

A sensitive response to context is a common aspiration for new buildings and places. It is an important part of good design and has even found its way into our planning schemes – unfortunately as an imprecise requirement to respond to neighbourhood character. While this has become a familiar concept in the design narrative of a project, architecture that is of its place is often more elusive, especially in fast changing places such as regional growth cities and renewal precincts. This issue is one of the most frequently discussed on projects seen through the Office of the Victorian Government Architect (OVGA) Design Review Panel.

A site’s context is a rich and complex cocktail of the history, natural, social and built physical features. It is important to understand what is unique about a place and what the component parts are in order to respond to it. An understanding of local morphology needs excellent

analysis with intellectual rigour. This analysis looks different when performed at different scales, considering the features at site, street, precinct or city level.

Understanding of place and context also has various historical and cultural overlays, and we increasingly recognise the deep connections between Aboriginal Nations, land and place.

Character can be misunderstood as static, particularly in established suburbs. Architecture that is of its place can successfully respond, but also reshape, with subtle or overt references to what is there, while embracing the new. Effective city shaping is dependent on the strength of this iterative and organic contextual response.

Tangible links to context provide a point of reference that give a nod to local history, dominant materials, city layout, land features or community characteristics. They anchor the public interfaces and communicate that where you are is distinctive, and that the new buildings and places respectfully connect to the features of that place.

Some buildings create their own context, standing out as identifiable objects or claiming a civic

role. There is a role for buildings that contrast completely to the surrounds to draw attention to a building’s special function, civic role or position within the city. Context-breakers often aspire to the Bilbao effect, where an existing (assumed low) status locale might be transformed through the artistic and architectural ambition of a cultural icon. However, true opportunities for contextbreaking are rarer than asserted. The architect’s everyday challenge is to design excellent buildings that are distinctively of their place and that add appropriate legacy to their context.

A well-designed building contributes to the value of a place. Value has a range of dimensions, including community wellbeing, inclusion and environmental performance, as well as economic outcomes. Distinctive places are increasingly linked to economic success. This is captured in Plan Melbourne’s aspirations:

'An identifiable sense of place emerges from a unique set of characteristics and quality—visual, cultural, environmental and social. Communities with a high level of attachment to their cities also tend to have a high rate of Gross Domestic Product growth.'1

Precincts such as Cremorne and Collingwood are under considerable pressure to accommodate development – their foundations of industrial heritage and good connectivity are magnetic. The idea of place identity attracts businesses to cluster in these areas. Clusters can become a virtuous circle, building and attracting jobs and investment. Conversely, poorly considered development can erode the attraction of the original place. The value of context responsive design is about places being identifiable, rather than generic. If our cities and places tilt towards the generic, we lose an essential feature of what makes our communities distinct and a driver of diversity and vitality in our built environment. Sydney

Architecture of place
Office of the Victorian Government Architect

becomes Singapore, Melbourne morphs into Munich. Current methods of design by visualisation increasingly show places designed through digital interpretation rather than by considered place-specific design. Response to context is made difficult when the development imagined is a significant change in scale and use. The current focus on precinct planning, densification at transport nodes and growth in our regional cities brings with it the challenge of integrating and connecting to the surrounds. In our priority precincts, whether Arden, Sunshine or Footscray, good design has a central role to play in maintaining distinctiveness as a changed character emerges. Conceptually, engagement with the grit and grain of a surrounding city should not be reduced to a formal exercise of simply stepping down at interfaces. Regional growth cities have a rich foundation on which to build their identity. Victoria’s regional cities have historic architecture, wide streets, rich cultural and civic history and established landscapes. While it may be harder to attract investment in regional centres, there is a need to resist poor quality design. These valuable contexts must be maintained and reinterpreted. Cities like Bendigo and Geelong are the focus for significant public and private investment that highlights a tension for local councils between welcoming development and demanding sensitive contextual design. Navigated well, this results in a subtle blend of the contemporary, informed by context. Planning policy asks for contextually responsive design, but most often generic form is delivered. This is often driven by financial maximisation. Councillor Nicholas Reece from City of Melbourne

describes it as spreadsheets in the sky.

In a recent analysis of common themes in OVGA advice the most frequent topic of panel feedback was related to context and place. Many projects that come through Design Review understand the need for placebased design and this is generally informed by robust analysis of the existing context and clear articulation of how it can be celebrated and enhanced in future form. But many projects don’t do this.

‘the city can be understood as a phenomenon that deserves close study, sensitive treatment and deliberate, conscientious and targeted adaptation and addition.’2

It’s important to know where you are. It’s important to reinforce the points of difference that make a place unique. Even in precincts or sites where wholesale change is welcomed, the layers of history are important to acknowledge. Without this, we risk the relentless production of generic forms with skin-deep facades.

Bronwen Hamilton is Manager of the Victorian Design Review Panel with the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.


1 Peopleperhour (Meagan Crawford), The Rise of the Creative Economy, July 2015, p1 – referenced in Victorian Government “Creative State Global City”, Creative Industries Taskforce Report, November 2015 (in Plan Melbourne)

2 Philip Goad ‘A Continuing City’ (essay on Tzannes) Architecture Australia July/ August 2018

Architect Victoria

Project 1 Lyons with Aspect Studios

Prahran Square, Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries

Lyons with Aspect Studios have transformed the former Cato Street car park into a multifunctional urban parkland and two levels of colourful underground car park. Prahran Square is comprised of four corners that celebrate and connect the surrounding precincts. These edge spaces enable visitors and residents the opportunity to experience different spatial environments including an inclined, north-facing grassed lawn, stepped terraces, mudstone forest landscape and sensory garden with garden cafe, each with a rich diversity of planting. These spaces enable varying perspectives to the square's centre and back into Prahran.

Prahran Square has also been designed to host medium to large-scale events. Most importantly, Prahran Square delivers much needed open public space to the local community in an area of Melbourne that continues to grow, yet has the second lowest amount of open public space per capita of all Victorian council areas. To encourage ongoing activation of Prahran Square, Stonnington City Council has a full program of events.

Project 2 Edition Office

NGV Architecture Commission, Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries

‘In absence’ is the fifth annual National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Architecture Commission which seeks to highlight the false and illegal premise of Terra Nullius on which this country was founded, declaring Australia as an emptiness awaiting ownership. The dark and enigmatic exterior form of the tower exerts a tangible presence upon the NGV’s garden and to the people venturing within it, and asserts a yearning to be felt and witnessed as it rises up to meet the scale and stature of the NGV.

The void within the centre of the memorial, the false absence of a people, leads the audience inwards to a twin pair of chambers whose form and scale reference the permanent, stone and thatch dwellings. Thousands of handmade, black glass yams bleed out from the cracks of these chambers; echoes of truth and memory seeping out from the walls.

Architecture of place
New projects Slice
Assembled by Elizabeth Campbell Photographer John Gollings Photographer Yhonnie Scarce

Project 3 MGAO

Northcote House, Woi Wurrung Country

This project by Matt Goodman Architecture Office (MGAO) is a small addition to an existing weatherboard shopfront house located in Northcote. Over the years the original building, once used as a corner store, accrued many poorly thought additions. The brief was to demolish all previous additions and replace them with a 30-squaremetre structure containing a kitchen, dining room, laundry and bathroom.

The dilapidated existing dwelling did have some beautiful qualities, such as the rear courtyard which seemed to create a moment of retreat from the busy street outside. These qualities led to the desire for the proposed kitchen to have a strong connection to the courtyard, increasing the sense of space and openness that the otherwise tiny addition may have lacked. A north-facing highlight window was positioned in order to recreate the sense of openness found in the courtyard, creating the impression of sitting in the garden looking out over the fence as opposed to being fully enclosed by the room.

Project 4 Workshop Architecture

Mernda Ambulance Station, Woi Wurrung Country

Built within a rapidly urbanising neighbourhood, the building fronts Plenty Road to the east, widened and upgraded, and a shared bike/pedestrian path along the adjacent creek alignment to the south, which is now under construction. This building is a small but important piece of public infrastructure that makes its presence felt within an evolving commercial precinct. It reinforces the street alignment established by the Victorian-era Bridge Inn Hotel, one of few historical fragments from Mernda's early rural settlement, and overtly celebrates the strident livery of emergency services vehicles.

A red and white diagonal striped shroud folds around the building, connecting the supersized garage at the front with the domestic-scale sleeping quarters at the rear where it folds back on itself, forming a screen which hides utilities from public view. Low-scale administration and training spaces pierce this red and white shroud, which along with the internalised facades to the north and west are characterised by their recessive neutral colour palette.

Architect Victoria 42—43
Photographer Peter Bennetts Photographer Chris Matterson

Holly Board and Pete Grove BoardGrove Architects

Can we start with a little bit of background, (both you and Pete) and why you chose to start your own studio in Melbourne?

Pete and I met in London in 2007, while working for the studio, Duggan Morris Architects. It was a really inspiring and supportive place to work as critical thinking, design exploration and originality was nurtured and embraced. I moved back to Melbourne, my hometown, in 2012 and Pete followed in 2013. We worked for local design practices and academic institutions for a few years before deciding to test our learnings and experiences from our time at Duggan Morris. After many months of weekend work, we formally established our studio in 2016.

How did you procure your first project?

It was the week before Christmas, and we had a very good friend of ours visiting us from London. We took him on a roadtrip, down the Great Ocean Road, staying overnight at Wye River. The following day our plan was to camp at Lake Elisabeth in the Otways, but there was a reluctance from the English side of the team, outdoor dunnies and the fear of snakes were too much. We ended up driving

for hours and hours trying to find somewhere less scary to camp. We ended up in Clunes at nightfall. Given the journey and anxiety from the Brits around the possibility of camping in wild places there was a true sense of celebration when we had pitched our tent. We quickly drank through the bottles of wine we had in the car and went in search of more booze. But for anyone who knows Clunes, on a Monday night it is as dead as a doornail. However, off in the distance we could hear thumping music and the boys decided wherever there is dance music there would have to be booze. So, we went searching. Our search lead us to an abandoned goldrush-era hotel, the Club Hotel, where Pete and Mark proceeded to try and break into the party. The owner caught them in the act of trying to squeeze their way through some vertical fencing and after an awkward moment and some pleading for us to be allowed to join their staff Christmas party they brought us out champagne and we stayed drinking and talking on the pavement until the wee hours. Given the derelict appearance of the hotel I asked them in a somewhat hazy state if they needed an architect or interior designer. This client, our first, is still one of our clients today.

What is the process of a project from concept to completion? In all your projects: architecture, furniture and imaginings?

We use contextual references or objects to begin. The design exploration typically involves many models and sketches of opportunities. At times we develop narratives to help us explore the experiences and possibilities of spaces. We encourage clients to write briefs which talk about the type of activities or experiences they imagine helping inform more personal outcomes. We are big believers that if you give a project enough explorative time, unexpected and unique outcomes can be uncovered.

We find, for us, that it's critical to have a core idea that guides the project so that as you are documenting, detailing or constructing, decisions about the direction of a detail or design can be easily determined. →

Architecture of place
→ Right NGV Design Store pop-up for KAWS exhibition by BoardGrove Architects Photo by Haydn Cattach Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries

Our stories are primarily written for projects which will never be realised as a way of capturing them. They are written by Brodie Norris. Each story is from the perspective of a different fictional character and captures an imaginary experience of one encountering and inhabiting the architecture.

We are exploring a variety of pieces of furniture which have an adaptability to them. The process is like our architecture in that we use 1:1 model making and contextual references to inform and develop

designs and communicate to fabricators. More to come on this as the year unfolds!

How big is your team? How do you see the studio growing?

It is just Pete and I at this stage, we would like to grow when the opportunity arises to a handful of staff. From experiences here and in the UK, one thing we do miss being small, is the ideas and experiences of a diverse range of staff found in larger practices. One way we have been mitigating

Architect Victoria

small practice isolation is by building a close network of friends including landscape designers, fabricators, sculptors, writers and architects to learn from and at times work with. We are also working with SODA in London as we think teaming up with other practices helps give us project variety and diversity of experience.

There is a clear sense of lightness and play in your published work, can you explain why and how this theme is explored?

Footscray Apartment was described by a journalist as 'Joyful Minimalism'. We actually really like this description for the project, and we think this approach feeds into a lot of our work. We see minimalism in the context of our works as an economy of means, a light touch. This is then brought to life with moments of surprise or wonder.

How do you approach the consideration of Indigenous culture in your work?

Many of our architectural projects are influenced by history, place, site and context. This can take many forms and is always a combination of balancing these influences with client briefing. Recently one of our projects through research exposed us to Indigenous culture. Local grinding stones and thrown objects became a reference point for the design exploration. This project is evolving.

Why do you list the coordinates of each project on your website? This seems like a fairly unique thing to include.

This seemed like an efficient and minimal way of locating each project. One day it will develop into some kind of map of all the projects.

Who are your mentors?

Both our tutors from our final years at university are a regular reference point for us. Andrea Mina taught me, and Niall Mclaughlin taught Pete in London. As tutors they were both inspiring and challenging. As a studio we highly value the design process, a model, a drawing is equally as important to us as the final building. We believe an ability to inspire and to communicate ideas is so important. Andrea's and Niall's professional work both explores ideas and emotions through a variety of mediums such as materiality, qualities of light and space.

Mary Duggan is an extraordinarily talented designer and working with her in close proximity was like a second education in architecture. She is brave, courageous and has an ability to guide a design from start to finish with exceptional outcomes. →

Architect Victoria
→ Left Angle + Earl St Office by BoardGrove Architects. Photo by Haydn Cattach Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries

Most recently we were very excited to be selected as one of Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert's Functional Artists. The gallery is the first of its kind in Australia to focus on Australian Art and Design. At the inaugural show in August it was intoxicatingly inspiring and energising meeting many of the other artists, young and old, refined and experimental. Hearing each person talk about their practice, how they work was electrifying. We don’t have enough time to deal with this inspiration!

Are there any pieces of architecture you're still trying to really nail? A small detail that hasn't turned out quite right, or an idea that you're still waiting for the right client?

We had three amazing briefs for projects when we were just starting out. A spa for a client who wanted to recreate Peter Zumthor's Therme in Vals, follies for an urban park and some riverside shelters. Much time and love went into these projects but it's highly unlikely they will be built. However, they have been a constant source of inspiration for our studio.

They also remind us of the diverse range of projects we want to work on and have led us to try and search out similar opportunities.

Architecture of place
→ Above Footscray Apartment by BoardGrove Architects. Photo by Haydn Cattach Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung Countries
Thanks for making a top 3* design podcast in Australia Hearing Architecture: A podcast about architects, what they do, and why it’s important. Listen now at Season 2 coming soon * Chartable; Apple Podcasts: Australia: Design; 19 September

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