2012 Retrospective

For the last post of the year, I thought I would take a look back at some of the highlights from 2012.  A lot has happened in the Melbourne Architecture scene since I began this blog on the 10th of June.

The buildings

2012 has seen the completion of some quite remarkable buildings in Melbourne. In July I took the opportunity to tour some of these in the Melbourne Open House weekend .  The stand out was the Royal Children’s Hospital by Billard Leece Partnership and Bates Smart which has since  gone on to win a swag of state and national architecture awards.

Another building to watch out for in next year’s awards is the RMIT Swanston Academic Building by Lyons Architects. In August I took a look inside and provided a Red +Black review of this new and unique landmark.

The interviews

There have been some fantastic contributors to this project over the year and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them again.

Alex Nock

Alex provided a fantastic snapshot of where the industry was at in September through the eyes of a director of a recently established architecture firm (Nock Doig). Amongst the pressing issues discussed were the current economic crisis, the progression of sustainable architecture and the public’s perception of architecture.

Stuart Harrison

In an interview focusing on architects and the traditional media, Stuart discusses ‘The Architects’ radio show and the original and local versions of the Grand Designs TV franchise. Stuart also touched on some of his work underway in his architectural firm Harrison and White.

Sonia Sarangi

Sonia’s interview was framed squarely around the issues facing women in the architecture profession in 2012. In an extensive Q and A, Sonia discusses the ‘Parlour: Women, equity, architecture’ website, recent data from the graduate survey and leadership within the profession.

Nic Granleese

The interview with Nic was a timely discussion on architecture and social media. Nic had recently launched a few new projects including websites for architects  and an architect’s media kit which have both been extremely popular.


One of the biggest surprises for 2012 was the shock announcement that the ARBV would be merged into a new body called the Victorian Building Authority. To investigate the situation I sought interviews from a series of guests who had with links to either the ARBV or the AIA. Many thanks must go to David Sainsbery, Jon Clements and Andrew Hutson for their input into the ongoing discussion. I will endeavor to post updates on the issue as they unfold in 2013.

The Design Competition

The most popular story for 2012 has been the ongoing Flinders Street Station Design Competition.  The process that this competition has taken has raised some very important issues for both architects and the public alike. The Long List event organised by Edwards Moore highlighted the architecture profession’s passion to debate public architecture, even if it could not be done publicly. Articles by The Age, Architecture and Design, Australian Design Review and Crikey’s The Urbanist also highlight the public interest in debating architecture and the purpose of the competition.

The Theme
All of the posts from this year come back to the central premise of this blog: architecture is for everyone.  Architecture should be explored and questioned, admired and critiqued and not just by Architects. Today I received the following in an email from a reader

Recently I was in New Zealand, being a tourist and looking at volcanoes. We went to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre, which the brochure informed us had award winning architecture.

It looked nice and pretty, the timber and membrane cover was nice, but I didn’t feel like it was very comfortable. It was a warm day when we were there and it was very hot and glare-y in the main area, although in the bathrooms which were concrete (with high windows open to the outside) and naturally lit it was really cool and pleasant. Given that people attending the visitor centre are about to go into caves (which are kind of dark and cool), I would have thought a design that focused on the cool and pleasantness would have been preferable. If not for the comfort, some stylistic nod to the fact that people were there for cave related things would have seemed appropriate to me. I’m not sure, but someone once told me that architecture is for everyone, so I thought I’d try having an opinion about it 🙂

The Future

I will be back early next year with a special summer series of posts from our national capital, Canberra.  In the meantime have a Merry Christmas and if you get an opportunity go and explore some architecture.

Thanks for reading

Architecture is for everyone



About Michael Smith

Architect and Director of Atelier Red + Black based in Melbourne, Australia
This entry was posted in all posts, awards, construction industry, Flinders Street Station Design Competition, Free architecture, Government Policy, Heritage, Interviews, Melbourne Open House, Review, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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