Build­ing a new con­fi­dence es­sen­tial for North Designing spaces

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor - by Martin Rasini martin. rasini@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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

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