An occasional blog, with photos. Thanks for looking.
At the same time as the 2015 South Australian architecture awards were announced in early July I was in Barcelona, Spain. I was there to spend some time learning from Spanish architectural photographer David Cardelús. The announcement of the SA awards sparked the idea of being the organiser and judge of my own architecture awards, based on the buildings I was to see and photograph over the next few weeks in Barcelona, Rotterdam, Lisbon and Athens - no speeches, no prizes and not much objectivity. There weren't many entries in some of the categories. So with tongue firmly in cheek, here are the winners:
Best Heritage Restoration and Repurpose
Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, Barcelona - a hospital designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and built between 1901 and 1930. It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009, and now has now been restored for use as a museum, library, and cultural centre.
Best Railway Station
Best Combined Apartment Building & Covered Marketplace
The Rotterdam Market Hall by MVRDV, 2014. This remarkable building combines apartments, a covered food market, a supermarket, Rotterdam's largest car park and what is probably the world's largest mural. Check out the inside...
Best Small Project
The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe, 1929. Built as the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, it was disassembled afterwards, and Mies fled Germany to the US not long after that, on the way to becoming one of the 20th century's most influential architects. The Barcelona Pavilion lived on, in memories, drawings and photographs, becoming a powerful icon of Modernism and the International Style. In the 1980s the Barcelona City Council commissioned architects Ignasi de Solà-Morales, Cristian Cirici and Fernando Ramos to rebuild the pavilion. The new version was completed in 1986, an exact replica on the original site.
Best Restoration of a Really Really Old Building
The Temple of Athena Nike, Acropolis, Athens. First built around 420BC, the temple has been dismantled or destroyed several times. In 2000AD the Acropolis Restoration Service commenced a project that involved completely dismantling and removing the building, then reassembling it with a new floor. The project was completed in 2010 - some of the more important frieze carvings are now in the new Acropolis Museum.
Best Covered Flea Market
Mercat dels Encants, Glòries, Barcelona by b720, 2013.
The Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam, by Ben van Berkel, 1996
The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), by Richard Meier and Partners, 1995. I do like a good atrium. This one was a delight on a sunny summer's day.
Best Heritage Interior
Casa Batlló, by Antoni Gaudi, first constructed 1877, then refurbished to the current design in 1904. I had experienced this famous house in 2005, dodging all the other tourists touring the site at the same time. This time David Cardelus arranged for the two of us to get access at 7am, two hours before the doors opened to the public. Bliss. (By the way, I reckon Gaudi is better at houses than he is at big churches.)
Best Really Big Building
The spectacular new building made for the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has gained a large amount of attention, but to date not many people have been inside and there are few images available of its interiors. There are plenty of exterior views around, including one by me which seems to have taken on a life as the hero image of the building used in the many articles about it in the architecture media, for example ArchDaily in early December.
I was commissioned by the builder, Hindmarsh, to photograph their project team inside the building in late December, and to create some images to be used for a project completion gift to the team. Although the building had been 'opened' by the politicians, inside it was still very much a construction site, and many views were compromised by ongoing works. We did get these however, which provide a teaser about the spaces inside, some of which to me are breathtaking. This is the most beautiful and inspiring work place I think I have ever been in.
Update: Following a commission by Aurecon, the engineers responsible for the facade and the structural components, and for most of the building's services, I have many more photographs of SAHMRI - there is a selection here.
One of my favourite places to be is on a west facing beach after the sun has gone down. As the clouds and the sky reflect the light of the sun we can no longer see, and the water and the wet sand reflect the light from the clouds and the sky, magic can happen. Click on the photograph below to go to a series of twilight photos made on the beaches of the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.
In August we travelled to Quebec, staying for a week in Montreal, in a flat in Le Plateau, a district just to the north of the Montreal CBD. It's simply a delightful place to be, especially in the middle of a Canadian summer. The area demonstrates that medium-density housing can be the basis of high quality urban living - the population density supports a wide range of services, with corner stores, restaurants, cafes and every other sort of retail goody just everywhere, a range of good public transport options and dedicated bicycle lanes in every street.
The housing is interesting - almost all of it is double storey buildings, each having multiple flats or apartments, but with no internal stairs. Each flat has only one level - if you live on the top floor you have external stairs straight down to the street.
There is a lot of good street art, and, refreshingly, hardly any of it has been defaced by moronic tagging.
There are always people on the street, in and out of the corner shops and cafes, so the area has a safe, friendly feel. When we were there there one of the main streets boasted an extensive outdoor exhibition of photographs by Montreal photographer Jean-Francois LeBlanc.
Over the past few years there has been a wave of bold, adventurous design applied to new university buildings in Australia. In South Australia the M2 Building at UniSA's Mawson Lakes Campus, and Adelaide University's Hub Central are two examples of high quality teaching and learning facilities combined with exciting design. In Melbourne, the RMIT University's recently completed Swanston Academic Building by Lyon Architects displays an almost lavish approach to the provision of space for students. I spend a Saturday afternoon there recently, armed with a camera, tripod and a couple of good lenses.
A right angle triangle motif dictates the cladding of the building and both the exterior and interior detail, right down to the bike racks.
The interiors are beautifully finished, with lots of timber
and some pressed metal sheeting.
It is the mix of indoor and elevated outdoor informal spaces made from bold breaks in the facade that make this building a treat for its users. This space is behind the RMIT sign shown on the first photo, about half way up the building. The view is straight down the north end of Swanston Street, with the RMIT Design Centre down the road on the left, and the Melbourne City Baths on the right.