Saturday, June 27, 2009

A NEW WAVE OF DESIGN


How's this for a cool new product? It's a bit different to the mini Cooper S Clubman I drove in the 70s!

Airstream Inc. and MINI have teamed up to offer the best in both design and functionality with a one-off MINI Cooper S Clubman and Airstream. Designed by Republic of Fritz Hansen, both interiors reflect the same adventurous personality and style with clean lines and bold colours.

The MINI Cooper S Clubman will be predominately jet black with black “wetsuit” neoprene accents along with green trim. The 22ft silver Airstream trailer will also enjoy the same exterior details as the MINI, but will have an interior designed for beach goers with features such as a waterproof interior and a sun bathing bed.

Just the thing for the Australian outdoor lifestyle!

Friday, June 26, 2009

GARBAGE WARRIOR COMES TO MELBOURNE



At Melbourne's State of Design festival in July, a world leader in sustainable housing for over 40 years, architect Michael Reynolds will be holding two informative public talks.

Michael Reynolds designs and builds homes that heat and cool themselves and built from natural and recycled materials, produce their own electricity, collect their own water, treat their own sewage and grow their own food. He is the author of seven books, the initiator of three off-grid communities, subject of the documentary ‘Garbage Warrior’ and travels with his team around the world demonstrating Earthship/sustainable principles.

Michael’s recent international projects include: a teahouse in the Netherlands, a sustainable home in Nicaragua, an eco resort in Jamaica, hurricane relief in Mexico, tsunami relief in India, a residence in France and demonstrations in England, Scotland, Norway, Spain, Japan, Bolivia, Bonaire and Honduras.


At his talks in Melbourne and Bendigo respectively he will talk about his experiences and how to implement his strategies for conservation into Australian homes.


This is a must visit destination for everyone concerned about the environment and the impact we have on it.
www.stateofdesign.com.au/events/design-for-everyone/michael-reynolds

Thursday, June 25, 2009

VENICE ARCHITECTURE BIENNALE

Photo: The Grand Canal, Venice by Kate St James

In a significant boost for Australian architecture, one of the nation’s most successful businesswomen and best-known patron of the arts will become the new face of Australia’s presence at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Announcing the nation’s new Venice Architecture Biennale Commissioner, the Australian Institute of Architects National President, Melinda Dodson said Perth-based Janet Holmes à Court AC has agreed to take on the key role.

“The Venice Architecture Biennale is arguably the most important event on the international contemporary architecture calendar. Thousands of the world’s most influential architects, designers, urban planners, developers and critics visit the Biennale, resulting in considerable discussion and commentary in the architectural press and general media. It’s therefore vital that we have strong leadership to maximise these opportunities, and the best creative team possible to ensure the world is watching.”

Ms Dodson said the high profile role of Commissioner, held very successfully over the past two years by former Sydney Lord Mayor, businesswoman and fellow arts patron Lucy Turnbull, is vital to ensuring that Australia’s presence in Venice is supported onshore and internationally.

Accepting the appointment, Mrs Holmes à Court said: “I am delighted to have been invited to participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale as Commissioner. I have been deeply interested in Australia’s built environment for most of my life, rejoicing with our architects where they have been innovative and successful and weeping with them over the proliferation of buildings inappropriate to our Australian environment and that of the 21st century world.

“From my travels and reading, I feel confident that Australia has a great wealth of architectural talent. This is often overlooked in the maturing of our society. Anything I can do to draw attention to the creativity of the best Australian architects will be a joy and a privilege.


Ms Dodson added that: “Mrs Holmes à Court is well-known as a businesswoman, board director and arts patron, not just in Australia but internationally. As a result she brings with her the ability to help attract strong support for and attention to our presence in Venice for the 2010Biennale.


The Australian Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale attracted 57,000 visitors from across the globe -providing unparalleled exposure for Australian architects on the world stage.

www.architecture.com.au/venicebiennale.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SUSTAINABLE HOUSE DAY


Here's a date for your diary: Sunday 13th September2009. Visit a Sustainable House in your neighbourhood and learn about the benefits of sustainable living.

Not all "sustainable" houses look different on the outside; it's what's inside that counts. Building a sustainable house can be an exciting and rewarding experience: I know, I've done it and would love to do it all again, especially more than 20 years after the first home I built on the outskirts of Byron Bay.

On Sunday 13th September, homes across the country will open their doors to allow interested parties inside where they can experience and learn about the benefits of building a sustainable house. Visitors can speak with and share the knowledge of homeowners, builders, building designers and architects and they can learn about the features and benefits of building a sustainable house.

Over the last eight years, the Sustainable House Day has shown people the benefits of energy efficiency in their homes. With more people realising they need to reduce their energy consumption, water and waste, events such as this provide invaluable information and inspiration.

Once you have experienced living in a home that is cool in summer and warm in winter without the need for mechanical air-conditioning or with little or no heating, you will appreciate the difference a correctly designed and oriented house can make.

The aim of Sustainable House Day is to educate, motivate and provide information so that people can start implementing some of the fundamentals immediately.

You can find an open house in your neighbourhood.

Sustainable House Day Management is in association with ANZSES (Australia and New Zealand Solar Energy Society)- www.anzses.org www.sustainablehouseday.com

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS UNDER PRESSURE

The decision by the Senate to defer the government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) bill places the jobs of hundreds of employees in the solar photovoltaic industry under pressure.

The chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, Matthew Warren commented that the decision will only further delay the clean energy projects across the country that are poised to create thousands of new jobs and stimulate multi-billion dollars investments in regional Australia. He also said that Australia’s emerging solar PV industry will become the victim of political posturing, with dynamic new companies halted in their tracks and now making forced job cuts in the wake of the decision.

“Clean energy companies around Australia will now put hiring plans on hold and in some cases be forced to start shedding staff,” he said. “Investing in large scale clean energy projects should be the front line response to climate change. This RET legislation should have been passed a year ago. Instead we saw it introduced late into the Parliament and linked to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme by the government, and now it has been deferred by the coalition,”

The Clean Energy Council provided detailed amendments to all sides of politics to remove any impediments to the passage of the RET bill.

“Industry representatives have met with senior advisers from the Prime Minister’s office. We have met with Minister Wong and her staff. We have met with senior advisers to Malcolm Turnbull. We have met the Shadow Minister Greg Hunt. And we have met with the Greens and the Independents. All have said that they support the introduction of the 20 percent Renewable Energy Target.

“Our question to the Parliament is then 'Why is this so difficult'. It’stime for all sides of politics
to stop treating renewable energy as a political football and get on with the clean energy revolution demanded by the clear majority of Australians.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NSW ARCHITECTURE AWARDS


Max Walker and Glenn Murcutt. Photography: Ian Cleland

On Thursday night, 18th June I attended the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects' Architecture Awards, hosted by the ebullient Max Walker. To say that the awards were inspiring would be an understatment. The quality and diversity of the projects submitted was truly exceptional with the jury awarding not one, but five commendations and five winners in the Residential Architecture/Houses - New category.

Early in the evening I was privileged to speak with Australia's own Glenn Murcutt. Glenn rarely gives interviews but I was lucky enough to have a few minutes with him. When I asked him if I could set up a formal interview he replied that he was too busy with some 16 projects in various stages of production and development and that the global recession was something of a "godsend" to him right now! At 73 years of age and looking many years younger, Murcutt, along with wife and colleague Wendy Lewin is involved in some exciting projects including a Mosque in Melbourne an opal fossil centre in Lightening Ridge (which he said was "one of our best projects ever") a house in Western Australia, a house in South Australia, one in Tasmania, one in Queensland and one in New South Wales. He said they were even "doing houses for other architects"! Murcutt still draws by hand and avoids Email, sites like Facebook and mobile phones and yet still manages to run a thriving practice.

Born in London, while his Australian-born parents were in Europe for the Berlin Olympics, Murcutt's father was a builder and it was he that instilled in his son the desire to be an architect and this is something that in turn he has passed on to his own son, Nick Murcutt. Nick Murcutt, along with his partner Rachael Neeson (Neeson Murcutt Architects) were the winners of the prestigious 2009 Wilkinson Award for the Whale Beach House, a spectacular residence sited on a bushy hillside overlooking the ocean on Sydney beautiful Northern Peninsula.

Sam Marshall, the 2009 Awards Jury chair gave the Jury Report and commented that the awards recognised projects where architects have made the most of their clients' briefs, sites and climatic conditions as well as budget and buildability - all in the face of trying to save the planet. He also said "It is a miracle when a superlative piece of architecture is completed considering the challenges faced. These awards celebrate such achievements and particularly the people who created them".

There were a record number of entries this year with 200 received and 50 being shortlisted, each of which the Jury visited, travelling from Lake Eucumbene in the south to the Gold Coast. "We saw great work by the known greats and great work by the unknown". Said Marshall.

"From the entries visited, the quality of houses was particularly strong, while heritage, apart from the winners, was poorly represented" he commented. "It was encouraging to see that environmentally sustainable design is no longer an add-on, but is fundamental to design excellence and seems to be driven by both client and architect."

Another outstanding entry was The Snowy Mountains House by James Stockwell Architect. This unique design uses BlueScopesteel throughout the exterior and interior, a material selected for its strength, lightness of section and capacity for complex shapes. The Jury commented that the simple elegance of this structure has been achieved in part because of the qualities of the materials selected, in combination with masterful detailing. It is an appropriately beautiful and stark structure for a remarkably striking site. The Snowy Mountains House won not only the Colorbond Award for Steel Architecture but also the Blacket Prize as well as the Residential Architecture/Houses - New Award.

It is interesting to note that in New South Wales, most residential housing is still designed by non-architects. This has resulted in many buildings favouring quantity over quality, especially in the project home market. Finding solutions to affordable but sustainable housing has not been easy, which means that many home buyers have not been able to access innovative, sustainable design. One company working to deliver a compromise is Environa Studio, run by Tone Wheeler. The Logic was designed to offer a better compromise between cost per square metre and quality, sustainable design and this awarded the entry the Special Jury Prize. The jury was enthused by the potential of this home's approach to delivery better designed and more sustainalbe homes to a broader market - which has to be a good outcome.

The projects I have singled out here are just three of the many entered and with so many awards, it is not possible for me to mention or show all of them here. However, in the coming months we will be publishing many of the winning residential entries in Luxury Home Design, Contemporary Home Design and Renovate & Extend magazines.

In conclusion, I am very inspired by the quality of the work that I saw and I can only say that the future of the built environment in Australia is in great hands.

DESIGNER DAYS IN PARIS


A multimedia installation by Patricia Urquiola telling the secrets of desigm was Molteni&C and Dada’s presentation at the “Designer’s day” event held in Paris held from 11th to 15th June.
The Flagship Store in Rue des Saints Pères was the venue for the film on the secrets of Night&Day. The new seating system was designed by Patricia Urquiola with cinema becoming the connecting theme of the fittings for the refurbished space in the heart of Saint-Germain. How are the objects that surround us born? What stories do they tell? How do ideas become products? These were the design secrets revealed in the “live” performance which accompanied the film.
Centre stage was Night&Day, a design which combines irony, comfort, imagination and rational thinking. Its variations become a sofa, a chaise longue or a single bed – all are based on the concept of versatility, on interpreting spaces by offering innovative solutions. Colours, sizes, adjustable backs and accessories, for storing or showing everyday objects, can all be matched to meet individual needs.
Along with the seating system, the other main player on the scene was Sequence, the new modular bookshelf, again by Patricia Urquiola. An airy structure featuring a thick beam element along which slide doors in various materials: punctured steel in various finishes, wood or glass etched with high impact geometric designs. Two types of dividing panel, full or punctured in a U-shape can be freely positioned so as to create symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements; containers for any type of object. Sequence is avant-garde not just in its design but also in its technology. Structural shelves and dividers in lacquered aluminium ply give structural solidity to the whole bookshelf, even in larger combinations.
Arik Levy’s new designs arrived in Paris too. Hug is a new, modern reading of the classic seating system featuring a contemporary image and great comfort. Quake is a series of table elements for the living area based on research into shapes and transparencies. Occasional tables for any area, they alternate the use of steel, wood, glass or stone.
Space was also given to the collection Wood by Rodolfo Dordoni, a composition of elements – tables, chairs and containers – which form a new, harmonious homescape; and to Pass, a highly successful modular system, and to Gliss 5th, an evolution of the classic Molteni wardrobe, a system which can take on a variety of conformations to meet different tastes, needs and personalities without sacrificing the good looks of designer furnishing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

IKEA & UNICEF LIGHTEN UP CHILDREN’S LIVES










Making children’s lives better in the third world is something we can all get behind with the latest initiative from IKEA. For every one of their SUNNAN solar-powered lamps sold at IKEA stores worldwide, one equivalent lamp will be given to UNICEF to light up the life of a child. These stylish and colourful solar-powered lamps will allow children in disadvantaged countries and where they may not even have electricity, to read, write and study at night as well as play after the sun goes down. “Millions of children can’t draw, write or read after sunset, limiting their horizons and possibly their futures,” said Marianne Barner, head of IKEA Social Initiative. “We hope our lamps are a small but important contribution to improving the lives of children in developing countries. Girls especially are often required to help out with household chores after school, and their only chance of doing their homework may be at night,” she said. “SUNNAN can make a huge difference to them. If they can keep up with the homework, their school attendance will likely increase and their achievements improve.” IKEA has made an extra sturdy version of SUNNAN for the developing world, designed to resist the wear and tear of difficult living situations, including a battery capable of withstanding high temperatures. The first shipments of solar lamps are destined for Pakistan, helping children in camps for people who recently had to flee their homes and remote villages in the earthquake-affected regions of Balochistan and the North West Frontier province. The energy-saving lamp is the first solar cell work lamp from IKEA and provides efficient work lighting at home without the need for cables, cords or electricity. All it needs is a bit of sunshine now and then. It is equipped with a rechargeable solar cell panel, situated on the lamp stand, which transforms sunlight to electrical energy. Fully charged, the batteries provide the LED light source with enough energy to make it run for three to four hours. LED consumes 70 percent less energy and has at least four times longer life than incandescent bulbs in similar lighting. Recharging the panel is easy. You simply detach it from the lamp base, place it outside facing the sky, and wait. Under perfect conditions with direct sunlight and no cloud, the charging will take approximately nine hours. On days with less than perfect conditions, the panel may require around 12 hours to be fully charged. You can find out more about IKEA and its Social Initiative at www.IKEA.com.au Now that’s something to feel sunny about.

A TRUE MILESTONE

Gemma Lynch-Memory has built a career on being one of Australia’s most collectable abstract landscape artists and it’s not hard to see why. Her one-of-a-kind artworks feature rich and vivid colours, portraying the Australian landscape in all its beauty and natural form. She paints on canvas our oceans, outbacks, rivers and deserts, bringing to life and capturing the spirit and character found in the heart of every Australian. In 2007, Gemma strolled into a second-hand bookshop where she found a copy of a very significant diary by a little-known Australian woman. Inspired by the diary, she became the first person to retrace the outback journey of Australia’s first female explorer, Emily Caroline Creaghe. This expedition was research for her emily:explorer national touring exhibition, where she celebrated Emily’s incredible achievements. Her career has spanned almost two decades, and in the latter part of the year, she will celebrate her 21st solo exhibition - a true milestone for any artist!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FUTURE LEADER AWARD

Congratulations to Adam Haddow, Director SJB Architects, on receiving the 2009 Property Council of Australia Future Leader Award. This award recognises the outstanding contribution made by an individual under the age of 35 to a field within the property industry. In addition to receiving this prestigious award, Adam also received a $10,000 research grant which he will use to further his research into the densification of our cities and the development of communities throughout Australia.
Adam Haddow was awarded the 40th Anniversary Churchill Fellowship in 2006 to study alternatives to conventional models of urban design. He is an elected Councillor of the NSW chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects where his emphasis is furthering discussion and debate about the future vision of our cities. Adam is a Director of SJB Architects and a founding Director SJB Planning NSW. He writes for a number of publications and more than anything he loves to design and build buildings.
Adam Haddow grew up in the small rural Western District Victorian township of Ararat. In 1999 he completed a Bachelor of Architecture with first class honours and was awarded the Penelope and Edward Bilson Scholarship for Design Excellence; both from the University of Melbourne. In 2000 he was short listed for the RAIA National Student Biennale Award.
In all of his work Adam attempts to unite social, architectural, economic and corporate agendas in order to achieve built solutions that positively activate their urban and individual environments.
Alongside his contribution to architectural practice, Adam has designed sets for stage and television, showcased his work in local and international design exhibitions and written for numerous publications including State of the Arts, Architectural Review and Arts and Medicine magazines. Adam has taught at the University of Melbourne and the University of Technology, Sydney and in 2008 was elected to the Australian Institute of Architects NSW chapter council.
In 2006 Adam was awarded a 40th Anniversary Churchill Fellowship to study alternatives to conventional urban design models. The Fellowship enabled him to travel during the first half of 2007 to the United States, Columbia, Denmark, Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom, France, Austria and Japan. This recent sabbatical has seeded future collaborations within architectural practice and academia and reinforced Adam’s interest in furthering discussion and debate about the future of Australian cities.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ARCHITECTURAL TOURS


The Australian Architecture Association runs bus and walking tours throughout Sydney, for members and interested members of the public. These tours are designed to enable people to understand, enjoy and discuss architecture. The AAA aims to realise this vision by gradually developing an organisation that nurtures the culture of architecture and, through a stimulating program of activities, enables interested people to develop their appreciation of what many call "the mother of the arts".
At the core of the activities are the architecture experiences which are based on the fact that the most effective way of understanding a building is to visit it and have a guide explain how it was designed, what it is made of and why it looks the way it does. For information on becoming a member of the AAA or to enjoy their walking tours, call 02 8297 7283 or visit their website at www.architecture.org.au and get to know more about your wonderful city.

Monday, June 15, 2009

ARCHITECUTURE FOR PLACE


Glenn Murcutt is recognised as one of Australia's and the world's most influential architects. His groundbreaking, contemporary designs combine sustainability and harmony with the natural environment. Renowned for drawing by hand, despite technological advances, Murcutt has received many national and international awards including the 2002 Pritzker prize and in 2009 the American Institute of Architect's Gold Medal. In June, a special exhibition of Murcutt's work opened at the Museum of Sydney to recognise and celebrate his 40 year career and contribution to more than 500 buildings. The exhibition is presented by the Architecture Foundation Australia in conjunction with The Historic Houses Trust and the NSW Architects Registration Board and courtesy of TOTO Gallery Ma Tokyo. The exhibtion runs until October.

DEMOCRATIC DESIGN FROM IKEA


Recently I was invited to a preview of the latest IKEA range. The setting for the launch was Rose Seidler House in Sydney and wow...was I impressed! I have never really been a fan of IKEA but their new Stockholm range has completely redefined the IKEA look. Created to bring the world of design and premium quality to 'the many', this new range features premium materials such as leather, linen, pure wool, mouth-blown glass, velvet, silk, cowhide and solid oak. Inspired by mid-20th century design and created by 12 designers hand-picked by IKEA, the Stockholm collection offers designer style at a price everyone can afford. I have purchased a few pices myself and plan on adding to my collection - space at home permitting!

ZAHA HADID - DOING IT IN CAIRO


A new state of the art facility for conferences and exhibitions begins in Cairo this year. Renowned ‘futuristic’ London-based British-Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid has created yet another amazing building, which will be one of the world’s top conference facilities.‘The undulating fluid forms of the Cairo Expo City design were inspired by the natural topography of the Nile valley,” said Zaha Hadid. "As the exhibition space requires the greatest degree of flexibility, we wanted to ensure all public space and the formal composition of Cairo Expo City relate to the surrounding Egyptian landscape. Along the great rivers of the region, particularly the Nile, there is a powerful dynamic - a constant flow of water and land - which extends to incorporate the neighbouring buildings and landscapes. For the Cairo Expo City design, we worked to capture that seamlessness and fluidity in an urban architectural context," she said.The City includes a 450,000 square metre exhibition and conference facility, a business hotel with a proposal for another office tower and a shopping centre. "This is truly a national project for Egypt," said Sherif Salem, CEO, General Organisation of International Exhibitions and Fairs (GOIEF ).Work on this project will begin in October this year to clear the site

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

HAVING SOME FUN WITH FURNITURE

I love this Chairik chair designed by Erik Magnussen from Engelbrechts in Denmark with illustrations by the artist HuskMitNavn. The figures on the Chairik chairs seat and backrests "look like they're afraid of people sitting on them: their eyes look a little nervous. And the figures on the other side of the chairs they look around attentively as if to say: who's coming? Anyone who might sit on me?"

HuskMitNavn is well known as an artist, having made a name for himself around the world with his controversial and humorous street art. His characteristic figures and social commentary can be seen around the world in the form of graffiti, t-shirts and illustrations in magazines and newspapers. He´s paintings are represented by Alice Gallery in Brussels, Gallery V1 in Copenhagen and the LaViolaBank Gallery New York.

HuskMitNavn has created four different designs for the chairs produced by the Danish furniture manufacturer. They All include both male and female figures. Two models have a woman on the outside of the chair and a man on the inside; the other two models have a man on the outside and a woman on the inside.

"It's easy to see that HuskMitNavn has created the designs using some of his favourite materials: felt-tip pen, chalk and pasteboard." Said a representative of Engelbrechs. "The illustrations are protected by the strong, silky, matte, melamine surface that is typical of Chairik chairs. The Chairik chairs themselves were designed by Erik Magnussen and sell in five-figure numbers each year.

The chairs are available in a limited range that is only being produced until 31 December 2009. They are sold individually or in sets of four. In Australia they are available from Corporate Culture.
Posted by Kate St James