The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Ross Fitzger­ald

THEY may not be as lauded as chefs, but ar­chi­tects have helped shape the world we live in. So it’s timely that they have their own en­cy­clo­pe­dia, which will help them and their build­ings achieve at least a mod­icum of the sort of fame that the likes of Neil Perry and Matt Mo­ran have achieved for feed­ing peo­ple.

Com­mis­sioned by Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press, The En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Aus­tralian Ar­chi­tec­ture — the first un­der­tak­ing of its kind in this coun­try — con­tains more than 1000 en­tries from 225 con­trib­u­tors, a num­ber of whom pro­vide mul­ti­ple en­tries. Painstak­ingly edited by Philip Goad and Julie Wil­lis, re­spec­tively chair of ar­chi­tec­ture and as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor in ar­chi­tec­ture at the Univer­sity of Melbourne, this lu­cidly writ­ten com­pendium of ar­chi­tec­tural knowl­edge also boasts 500 su­perbly re­pro­duced draw­ings and pho­to­graphs in colour and black and white.

For the gen­eral reader — and for whom is any en­cy­clo­pe­dia aimed but the gen­eral reader? — this highly ac­ces­si­ble ac­count as­sem­bles ma­te­rial from our indige­nous be­gin­nings to the present day. As the ed­i­tors make clear, it in­cludes a wide ar­ray of build­ing types, from houses to mo­tels, from build­ing ma­te­ri­als such as tim­ber and con­crete to el­e­ments of ar­chi­tec­ture such as fly­wire and lou­vres. There is also con­sid­er­able fo­cus and at­ten­tion on dif­fer­ent ar­chi­tec­tural styles and on a wide ar­ray of ar­chi­tec­tural firms and in­di­vid­u­als.

The process for se­lect­ing en­tries and con­trib­u­tors was col­lab­o­ra­tive and in­clu­sive. Goad and Wil­lis wisely as­sem­bled an ad­vi­sory board of aca­demics, ar­chi­tects and her­itage pro­fes­sion­als who had ex­per­tise about one or more of each Aus­tralian state or ter­ri­tory. It is no ac­ci­dent that the en­try NSW Ar­chi­tec­ture is one of largest in the book, as be­fits the im­por­tance of Australia’s old­est and most pop­u­lous state. At the same time, some en­tries about ar­chi­tects of lit­tle known prove­nance — who nonethe­less pro­duced sig­nif­i­cant build­ings — are quite brief.

As with most vol­umes of its kind, this stylishly pro­duced en­cy­clo­pe­dia is or­gan­ised with all en­tries ar­ranged al­pha­bet­i­cally and with cross-ref­er­ences to other en­tries high­lighted in bold. This may seem bleed­ing ob­vi­ous but it’s im­por­tant for nav­i­ga­tional rea­sons. At the end of each en­try there is a brief, but help­ful, list of ref­er­ences in­di­cat­ing

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