list of books on sale as chosen by rachel whiteread

list of books on sale as chosen by rachel whiteread, at tate britain

high rise by j g ballard
where I'm calling from by raymond carver
quicksand by henning mankell
about looking by john berger
meanwhile, trees by mark waldron
confessions of a crap artist by philip k dick
the safety of objects by a m holmes
gilead by marilynne robinson
mountains of the mind: a history of a fascination by robert macfarlane
the testemant of mary by colm toibin
my brilliant friend by elena ferrante
the collected stories of lydia davis
pondlife: a swimmer's journal by al alvarez
depths by henning mankell


'abstract - the art of design'

I've been watching Abstract - The Art of Design on netflix. Thus far (2 episodes in), it's about mainstream pop culture design. Celebrity designers, consumer culture. Being suspicious of such things, but also enjoying them, I have found the show surprisingly insightful. The format pairs a story of the designer's career thus far, with the story of an immediate design challenge - illustrator Christoph Niemann looks back on his studies, arrival in NYC, and moving to Berlin, while designing an 'augmented reality' cover for The New Yorker.

What I particularly enjoy is the view inside the work day and work space. Looking at the books, the pencils, what kind of desks other people like. And the small observations on working methods. There are also moments of vulnerability, failure, and uncertainty - and brief discussions of how these were overcome. 

Bjarke Ingels has an episode coming up; will be interesting to see what kind of narrative is presented there.

The usual feeding of designer myths occurs - it's a slick production, but not entirely without nuance. A pretty easy watch for the end of a day.

image: http://nfgraphics.com/una-serie-de-netflix-para-disenadores-abstract-the-art-of-design/


more archive material to be published

announcement of the publication of a talk video, comment on the current state of the 'blue archive' project and why talks from 3 over 4 Under 2015 are being published. I cannot speak for everyone in involved in the project - many people have contributed their efforts in different ways, and there is little formality to the process.

Still, I want to offer some commentary on what is happening (and not happening).

firstly, here's the talk - Ben Caine presenting at 3 Over 4 Under 2015.


Serpentine Gallery 2016; a visit

yesterday [Sat 18.06.2016] I went to see the BIG 2016 Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park. I was interested to see a BIG project in the flesh, as Bjerke Ingels seems to personify the post-Koolhaas/Hadid era of globalised sell-out, image focused, flippant architecture-as-fashion starchitecture that we all know and hate (with a touch of envy of those glamorous jet setting lifestyles).

It is bombastic in scale, and very aesthetic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it still nuanced, and democratic - as Ingels has described BIG's intent. It's a lot of polycarbonate. It did not appear to be perfect; two men were abseiling, sticking panes into the boxes with copious amounts of sealant - assumedly this would have been more easily and neatly accomplished in the workshop, so must be the result of some afterthought. The positioning of these panes deep within the boxes cut down reflection to the point where they are literally invisible from further than a few metres. I'm reminded of criticisms of the (non-Utzon) glazing scheme on the Sydney Opera House - a significant visual barrier rather than transparent curtain.


Architectural Flash Mob (sold separately)


"An inspired design by one of Perth's most acclaimed architects, Geoff Warn, of Donaldson and Warn (Geoff was appointed WA Government Architect in November 2013), this stunning house was created around 25 tonnes of massive steel beams recovered from the demolition of a huge 1950's warehouse. The beams have been allowed to rust to an amazing natural red colour. The beams form the skeleton of the building and are exposed inside and outside the house..."

See you all there.



fje: recent reading

the blazing world by siri hustvedt (fiction)
a study of feminism, authorship and the workings of the art world.

europe in autumn by dave hutchinson (fiction)
speculative portrait of a near future europe after the failure of the EU project and the schengen agreement.

a time of gifts by patrick leigh fermour (non-fiction)
travels on foot in holland, germany, austria and czechoslovakia in 1933/34.

from the woods to the water by patrick leigh fermour (non-fiction)
travels on foot in hungary, yugoslavia and romania in 1934.

the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction by walter benjamin (non-fiction)
a marxist reading of art, which I read in conclusion to my time working with raphael forquemin, to help get some structure around the political and economic discussions we had.

wings of the kite-hawk by nicolas rothwell (non-fiction?)
the landscapes, history and characters of remote australia. from the library of goetz stoeckmann.

the marriage plot by jeffery eugenides (fiction)
liberal arts in love.

blood meridian by cormac mccarthy (fiction)
harrowing happenings in the american west.

wuthering heights by emily bronte (fiction)

world's end by t.c. boyle (fiction)
dutch settlers' and native americans' postmodern adventures in the hudson valley.

studies in tectonic culture by kenneth frampton (non-fiction)
the backbone of my study tour of carlos scarpa's work in northern italy. while it makes for a dense read, it brings a lot of depth to my understanding of the origins of contemporary ornament. Notable for its non-anglocentric sources, coverage of modernism prior to the 20th century, extensive use of drawings and very insightful analysis.


Urban Screening 2015

MC and FJE are excited to announce the return of the Urban Screening public video exhibition and welcome Robert Cameron as co-curator for this year's program.

In 2014, Robert Cameron aka //thedeadpixelproject contributed two videos and an interactive video installation to the inaugural Urban Screening held at the Perth Cultural Centre Screen at the James Street Amphitheatre. With FM currently exploring exciting new opportunities on the other side of the world in Germany, Robert has joined our curatorial team to champion the technical coordination of the Urban Screening. MC remains the communications lead, which includes coordinating a national expansion of the Urban Screening through the RAIA's Emerging Architects and Graduates Network (EmAGN).

View this year's Call for Expressions of Interest here.


Attention Seeking Behaviour

In a recent reading of the University of Sydney Architecture Annual 2014: Propositions, the following article resonated a constant challenge faced by students and practitioners: resisting the siren of attention-seeking architecture.

Proposition - Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 9, 2nd ed.

"The setting forth of something as a subject of discourse; something proposed for discussion, or as a basis of argument.

A question proposed for solution; a problem, a riddle.

The action of setting forth or presenting to view or perception."

The University of Sydney Architecture Annual 2014: Propositions was first published in 2014 by Freerange Press in conjunction with the Graduate Architecture Exhibition 4th-12th December, 2014.

Freerange Press is an online and print publishing co-operative based in Australia and New Zealand. Freerange'so focus is on global issues of design, politics and life for an urbanised humanity.



Blue Archive: Early Release Material

The Blue Archive is under development. Early release material includes a talk David Weir, of David Weir Architects, at the 2014 edition of MERGE Emerging Architects 'On Impact', and a 'project portrait' of Jonathan Lake's North Perth House, which was a popular site at Open House 2014.

The archive project has seen speakers and event organisers including MERGE, Curtin University, CODA, the Office of the Government Architect, CODA, the DIA and Gresley Abas generously allow us to film their talks, and video documentation of a number of exhibitions, installations, and built projects. We hope this will contribute to the strengthening of architectural culture in Perth through the availability of quality, engaging, primary source information delivered with high production values. The intent is to assist with the discovery and sharing of good ideas through the cataloging and of the work, thoughts and personalities of architects and allied practitioners, to allow well informed conversations and creative works.

In due course a website will be launched, with fully catalogued metadata on the speakers and events. Material will be progressively added as editing is completed and permissions received.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy these first two videos:

David Weir (David Weir Architects) - 'On Impact'

Project Portrait: Jonathan Lake Architects - 'North Perth House' 


PS14.02 Design for Learning #3

Notes on the Perth Samplings held by the Office of the Government Architect, in this case in collaboration with CEFPI.

Governor Stirling High School by Donaldson + Warn
High school for 1000 students on a small (aprox half size of usual) site. Replaced multistory buildings built in the 50's, key design drivers were responding to geographical context of river and historical (both indigenous and European) Guildford, build programming (proposed staged construction was challenged by design team) and accommodating an existing school community with established teaching programs and social contexts. The buildings have a strong civic character (as you can expect from D+W), sharply lined forms and appear generous in spatial diversity and finessed forms at the level of interaction - i.e. building elements forming seating, operable walls being deployed in carefully thought through scenarios. Materials included reduction fired bricks, which I knew about but was unsure why this firing process is employed - now I know it brings more variety of colouring with blues and purples. Brad Day presented in detail, and talked about difficulties as well as successes, which is important.

JSR Kindergarten
Innovative timber building techniques, efficient 18 x 18m square plan, simple structure. Resourceful and clear approach, without complication appears to have delivered a fun and successful outcome which was not an obvious solution but performs well (by Tom Brooking's account, and it sounds as though post-consultation has been worthwhile). Interior of building appears a great place to inhabit, particularly for young children.

HG and FJE were there documenting for the video archive.


Back to the Future.

2014 via 1946-1996

Extract from Visions & Voices:
Curtin University Celebrates 50 Years of Architectural Education.
Essay by Duncan Richards


Peter Wilson (Bolles+Wilson) 2013 RAIA Gold Medal Presentation.

Fragments from Libraries / Small Buildings / Zombies.
07.10.2013  State Library of Western Australia.

"It seems that to receive an RAIA Gold Medal one must leave Australia and stay away for 40 years."

"I am nervous of belonging. I am required to be able to continually step into new cultures which develops skills of assessing what is actually at work."

"I have 40 minutes to present this talk. In Sydney I recall Buckmiester Fuller once spoke for 4 hours. The students left to get pizza and when they got back he was still talking." 

"I am a product of the AA (Architectural Association): Dealing with an Architecture of incident, complexity and urban context...

…a sensibility developed within a generation of contextualism - the study of the city - contextual but with a language of the time."

"We don't have a style."

"An architecture that gets up the nose of German Architects who ask, "What is your rule system?", our reply," It depends what day of the week it is!"

"Muenster Library is somewhat our signature…and a dangerous yardstick"

"A building of many small narratives…a long story but one which is a joy to tell."

"We were given 3 years to plan…in the end we detailed, detailed and detailed. The fees ran out after 1 year. Other competition wins paid to keep us going. In the end it was built under budget…which surprised everyone. For the last 20 years it has been ranked 1 or 2 in the list of best public libraries -  a validation of some sorts. It suggests that good architecture is not about money but a the amount of time willing to be given to it."

"I advise students to visit a site at night. To not be distracted by detail and to see only the morphology."

"There is precedent in our work. But architecture of a different time and building method prevents direct references. One must think on your feet for a project specific strategy."

Dutch Competitions: "To get around strict EU competition rules the Dutch process sometimes asks for a 'vision'. The vision could be 'purple'…or a sketch. A german Architect once submitted a written statement. He proposed for a participatory scheme whereby he would engage and work with the local Dutch community. He won…but he then had to learn how to speak Dutch."

Dutch Language. "We called our scheme a 'blob'. This was before the word was degraded by parametric geometry. The Dutch however didnt call it a blob. They kept calling it a bloop! (We which also liked)."

Dutch Context: "Having being designed to a context a fire then burnt down the adjoining building and the context disappeared" 

21mins 15seconds: "I apologise for racing through this but I must get to the zombies."

Suzuki House: "We recently met the daughter who grew up in the house. We wanted to know if she had psychological damage."

"How did she describe the black blob to her Japanese school girl friends?"
"Oh thats easy: the house is a Panda!"

"We can't actually describe where this building is…it is floating somewhere in the Tokyo soup."

"There appears to be no need for proximity in a modern city anymore. Germany is like Tokyo…but spread out over 100's of kilometres."

Sustainability Regulations: "Typically one is required to make a building airtight…it is almost a crime to open a window in Germany."

Luxor Theatre: "Theatre is about the event. Its not about the Architecture. The building should work best when the lights go out and everyone focuses on the stage…but moments before the lights go out when the theatre is buzzing architecture has a foreground role."

A showroom to test jacuzzis: "An interesting sociological experiment. People go into a public building and take their clothes off…this is not something we do everyday. A discovery was made that Germans required freshwater to be refilled into each bath tested however if a busload of Belgians arrived…"

"I think our architecture is made up of solving these sorts of pragmatic problems. We don't sit there everyday discussing formal, theoretical or compositional problems. We basically discuss how do we solve each problem (as the brief and project limits shift in time)."

"In this building it is possible to put on your gumboots and wander out to the end of the lake. A surreal moment like a flat-earth view (looking off the edge of the world). What one actually sees though is German suburbia."

"If you designed the building below ground you killed all the trees. We designed the building to sail between the trees - the judges didn't share the same 'sublime' logic - we are sensitive architects."

"A german fundamentalist thinks our architecture is irresponsible. As a jury member he pushed our building from first to second place. I found a eucalyptus tree last time I visited London. I collected its seeds and now I have my own gorilla gardening campaign throwing eucalyptus seeds over his fence."

"A sketch which looks naive can get past every committee. A trick: Stay childlike!"

"It can be a very painful process. I think one doesn't do architecture to make money. A friend always laughs at the amount of unpaid work we as architects do. But there is a pleasure in doing a scheme….and finally seeing it get built and occupied by people." 

Zombies: "Lost competitions and the unbuilt. The undead that never reach closure."

Unbuilt Milan: "It took 10 years to complete the design process…it now sits on a shelf somewhere. It is the story of an Architect's life: So much effort and the project can still become a zombie."

"A mobile showroom. An inflatable skin. A building so light it needed 40 tonne of ballast just to hold it down. The transport costs of the ballast made it uneconomical. Sometimes you can do your job to well…Zombie."

"Theoretical projects are an exploration of the poetics of architecture. An engineer once told me (regarding The Waterhouse Project) that you wouldn't have the head of water required to get the fountains to do that…but thats not the point of narrative architecture…its a statement."

Peter Wilson. http://bolles-wilson.com


A Spatial Biography: Seven Extra(Ordinary) Office Buildings Exhibition

An exemplar selection of work by students from the Curtin Fourth Year Master of Architecture program. 

The studio was dedicated to two facets of architectural practice - the development of a complex building on an urban site and the development of the designers own spatial intelligence as someone who is engaged in spatial research for the benefit of society.

Exhibition open from 13th December - 22nd December at Moana Chambers, 7am - 4pm Mon-Fri, 10am - 5pm sat.

Photo: Jonathon 'Mcfly' Yeo


'Post Tumour Humour Album' Launch

Support 'Blue Carpet Celebrity' Errol H Tout 

The 'Post Tumour Humour album' launch will be on the 14th December at the Astor Lounge [the gorgeous little room upstairs from the Astor Theatre with a fabbo Art Deco bar] in Mount Lawley. Squasher runs it so you know it's cool!

All proceeds go to cancer research. You can get tickets at the Astor web page [the room only holds 132 so mebbe get 'em real soon] and the album can be found at Errolhtout.com.au and Amazon, Itunes and Spotify

Support will be by Cowboy X

This is gonna be so much fun. Please support the amazing people that do amazing things for people with cancer [like me].

I have even persuaded some of the people that recorded with me to appear on the night. Look out for Graham Greene, David Sofield, John Bannister - my goodness me! Come and hear what I've been writing about here for ages!

Best wishes to all


Go Away and Come Back Exhibition

Go Away and Come Back: an exhibition of architecture, travel, research, experience is currently open upstairs at the Moores Building Contemporary Gallery on Henry Street in Fremantle.

The closing party is this coming Sunday 4-7pm. There will be snacks, drinks, and thought provoking, engaging works to interact with.

Sneak previews and more info: www.facebook.com/GoAwayandComeBack