CarriageWorks at the old Eveleigh Rail Yards, near Sydney’s Redfern Railway Station by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (TZG), is a superb example of the adaptive reuse of a former industrial building. Recipient of the prestigious Greenway Award for Heritage at the recent Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter awards along with another award in the Public Architecture category, it is a major addition both to the architectural and performing arts landscapes of Sydney. Continue Reading »

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The ICEHOTEL could be the most uncomfortable hotel in the world. Such are the curious vagaries of the “experience economy” that people will pay (handsomely) to spend the night in a freezer, albeit a very artfully decorated one. It is something like camping in a display home – you move in after six in the evening, when the daytime hordes have passed through to have a look, and you’re up early and out again before the next lot arrive. It also has the sense of adventure, transience and the enjoyably makeshift nature of camping – along with many of its more striking discomforts. Who would have thought people would clamour to stay in a room where the temperature is minus five degrees, you can’t store your luggage because it will freeze, the most comfortable thing you can slip into is a padded snowsuit and there is no bathroom or toilet? Regardless, a stay at the ICEHOTEL would have to be one of the most strange and beautiful experiences to be had anywhere.

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Naomi Stead is a Melbourne-based academic who writes about architecture, art and design. You have arrived at her online folio of writing, projects, and scholarly work. This site is not regularly updated and you should assume that anything here is out of date!

Lacoste and Stevenson have added to and refurbished the Jubilee Oval Pavilion at Sydney’s Blackwattle Bay Park, near Glebe. This is a small and modest project, but it nevertheless tries out several architectural ideas, in a charmingly lighthearted manner. The architects call the project ‘camouflage,’ and it is indeed self-effacing – the addition is not visible from the oval side at all, and from the rear approach effectively disguises itself by mirroring the grassy hillside at its back, the façade being de-materialised with a broken surface of stainless steel and glass, and the whole topped off with an Astroturf roof. Continue Reading »

They say that culture is what turns milk sour. The biological metaphor is apt – the germ of an idea falls into a fertile medium, and before you know it you have a thickening swampy yoghurt of new artefacts, new behaviours, new ideas. You would think that the RAIA national conference would be exactly the place where such germs would be swarming around in a fecund cloud, and where we, the architectural fraternity, would stand ready to catch them and cultivate new colonies of architectural culture. Is that what happened at this year’s conference? Well, yes and no.

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The story of Hugh and Eva Buhrich is one of those grand narratives, the same epic kind of story that drives many a great film or novel. A young couple, each of them talented and committed to the art of architecture, are forced to leave Germany, flying before the winds of war and persecution. Assisted by supporters in London, they arrange passage to the new world, tossing up between South Africa, America, and Australia. Almost by accident they eventually reach Sydney, but their trials as refugees are not over, since their professional qualifications are not recognised here, and work is hard to come by. Persevering, Eva goes on to become a respected architectural journalist, while Hugh pursues his craft under the title of a ‘planning consultant,’ going on to design a suite of fine but under-appreciated buildings, most of which are demolished or irreparably altered in subsequent years. But the thing that makes this particular émigré architect’s story into a unique and significant one is the quality of two of these works, two houses designed and constructed over many years by Hugh, for Eva and himself, on the same street in Castlecrag.

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