BUILT TO LAST
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