Building a new confidence essential for North Designing spaces
AN invite from the Australian Institute of Architects to serve as a lay juror for its 2 0 1 1 N o r t h Q u e e n s l a n d awards came as much as a shock as a surprise.
What, I thought, do I know about architecture?
Certainly, I have focussed on property writing for some time, but outlining what is planned and what is develo p e d i s a f a r c r y f r o m determining whether the attributes of a building, or a group of buildings, reach beyond merely the competent to the exceptional.
I envisaged my remarks e n g e n d e r i n g e n d l e s s r e - sponses that masked frustration with my ignorance such as those starting: Yes, but have you considered . . .?
Daunted yet challenged, and aware of the call on work time acceptance would require, I approached Townsville Bulletin Editor Peter Gleeson who suggested I take up the invitation.
As a consequence, I spent two days last week in the company of architects assessing 11 projects in what proved to be a demanding but rewarding experience.
T h e t e a m c o m p r i s e d awards director Malcolm Middleton, Cox Rayner partner Michael Rayner whose practice conceived Townsv i l l e ’ s F l i n d e r s C e n t r a l transformation, along with city architects Tania Dennis and Rob Dusting and, on the second day, Queensland Government architect and Bond University professor Philip Follent.
Any notion that judgments were subjective was quickly dispelled.
Does a building’s design, p a l e t t e o f c o l o u r s a n d landscaping complement its environment?
Do the internal and external spaces work well and are fitouts and colour schemes conducive to the purpose of the spaces?
Does a building link well with other elements in its precinct?
Are issues associated with location, purpose and design well resolved?
The above list provides an i n d i c a t i o n o f t h e many considerations.
Of the 11 projects assessed, eight were visited and three addressed through presentations. Just two assessments involved homes, an apartment refurbishment at Townsville’s Aquarius on the Beach and a holiday home at Magnetic Island.
However, driving through Townsville and north to Ingham brought home just how much work remains to be done to develop a modern architectural genre that accords with t he northern Queensland climate.
New home designs appear no different to those at developments across south-east Que e n s l a n d – a n d e v e n centres farther south – with, it seems, little thought given to cross-flow ventilation and functional outdoor living spaces.
At Friday night’s awards dinner, at Townsville’s Civic Theatre, government architect Philip Follent made the point that generally, not enough attention was paid to design not only in the delivery of homes and community spaces, but also as an economic driver.
Mr Follent said it was time for the profession to engage with the community.
A r c h i t e c t s , h e s a i d , through their grasp of form and structure should step out of their comfort zone.
After experiencing t his learning adventure, I share his view wholeheartedly. RECOGNISED: Opposite Lock building, Duckworth St, above, and the Australian Tropical Science
Innovation Precinct at James Cook University, below