FIFTY UNDER FIFTY: INNOVATORS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
EPISODIC URBANISM: THE RMIT URBAN SPACES PROJECT 1996-2015
LNXX LAHZNIMMO ARCHITECTS: A TWENTY-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE
Written by Beverly Russell, Eva Maddox & Farooq Ameen Published by Images Publishing 352pp hardback, $59.95 imagespublishing.com Reviewed by Ashley Tucker
By Peter Elliott Published by URO Publications 192pp softcover, $69 uromedia.com.au Reviewed by Leah Cwikel
Written by Andrew Nimmo and Rachel Hurst Published in-house using 1010 Printing International Limited 162pp softcover, $39.95 lahznimmo.com Reviewed by Sophia Watson
Fifty Under Fifty is a seminal investigation into global design innovation with essays by three contributors in the architecture and design world: Beverly Russell, Eva Maddox and Farooq Ameen. After a global search, they selected 50 top architecture and design firms to present. To help qualify, or at least set some parameters, the selective criteria called for candidates to be 50 years old or under at the time of publication. More importantly, they were chosen because they represent a generation of visionaries shaping design and architecture through the filter of humanitarian and ecologically conscious mandates, aware of global issues needing imaginative design solutions. A five-person jury presided over the final selection of 50 honourees, which span 19 countries across five continents; from Bangladesh to Sweden, Japan to Mexico. Significantly, 15 of the 66 individuals in the book – or a quarter – are women, representing the growing leadership of women in architecture and design across the globe. In 2015, as the world grows ever more interconnected and geographical boundaries become irrelevant, design innovation is at the forefront of our collective consciousness. The 50 under 50 presented in this book are a new generation of leaders in architecture and design worldwide, the first group born into the Internet Age who have adapted communications and technologies for intelligent thinking. Throughout the lavishly designed 352-page hardback book, designs are illuminated with photography and detailed illustrations that help showcase the group’s passion for exponential learning. The group is holistically conscious of global needs, and they perceive architecture and building through the lens of humanitarian structures. Out of the box solutions are presented for schools, medical centres, sustainable low-cost housing, affordable and effective transportation, integrated agriculture opportunities – which cater to a growing population and generate a better quality of life.
When considering a public space, there are questions that need to be answered. What purpose does the space serve? How does the space accommodate multiple activities? Does it utilise existing geography? Born of the earliest settlements, public spaces both reflect and develop the urban fabric in which they reside. Divided into three sections, Episodic Urbanism is an intriguing and playful publication designed by Stuart Geddes. The book focuses on the transformation of two blocks in the heart of Melbourne – the RMIT rejuvenation from a rather privatised space to an animated, public urban campus – to discuss and challenge what we thought we knew about public space. The 192-page softcover is a tactile tapestry of photography, architectural drawings and textual elements that all lend to the diversity of the project itself. The strength of Episodic Urbanism lies in the contributors’ conviction, each of them actively involved in the topics of urbanism and the city landscape. The main body of the publication is Robert Nelson’s Episodic ‘Journey’ whose chapters flow seamlessly from one to another, delving into the core elements that contribute to urban environments. “The episodic quality of the street throughout Renaissance towns of Europe is hard to emulate,” says Nelson, “Melbourne has matured over the past 25 years to become an energetic and sophisticated city, in many ways, the transformation of RMIT as a campus closely relates to the wider metamorphosis of its host.” Laced between the chapters, crisp, colourful photographs of the project provide a deeper context and a sense of the fully interactive space. Episodic Urbanism is an accessible foray into the public environments that modern architecture and design are looking to create through traditional practices. “It is part of the city’s morphology and essentially defines, as well as shapes, Melbourne through both its connectivity and porousness, but also through its spatial sequencing.”
I know what you’re thinking, “*sigh*, not another firm retrospective”. But don’t be too quick to dismiss them all just yet; there are still those rare gems that are – thankfully – not self-indulgent ‘look how fabulous we are’ monographs. LNXX Lahznimmo Architects: A Twenty-year Retrospective is one of them. This cleverly-edited, limited edition book charts the progress of lahznimmo architects since their establishment in 1994 by principals Andrew Nimmo and Annabel Lahz. Released to celebrate the 20-year milestone, LNXX is a crisp 162-page book that documents the first two decades of the architecture firm, exploring the perception of their work from several viewpoints: the architect, the critic, the photographer and the illustrator. And this is what truly makes this book different. The book covers highlights of the practice spanning everything from the ‘look’ of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games to cafés and amenities blocks at Sydney’s Hyde Park, Centennial Park and Tamarama Beach, university business schools and libraries, public spaces and the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. What I find really enjoyable about this retrospective is the inclusion of local creatives such as South Australian academic Rachel Hurst, who wrote a meaningful essay for the book while Brett Boardman, arguably one of Australia’s most iconic architectural photographers, contributed a large selection of the imagery. The book is also wonderfully paced with constructivist-style illustrations by Rohan Cain to break from the richness of the actual copy; we are after all, quite visual creatures. Beginning with the partnership between Andrew Nimmo and Annabel Lahz, the book is an honest and genuine reflection of not only the practice, but the themes and ideas of each period in time through which they have steered their practice.