NSW: AAA Partners in Sydney Design 2016

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It’s time to celebrate all things creative with the annual contemporary design festival - Sydney Design 2016. Taking place 2-11 September, the Australian Architecture Association (AAA) is once again partnering in the festival. In association with MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) the AAA has developed a special architectural tour of the Sydney Observatory in Millers Point, The Rocks.

Join volunteers from the AAA on an architectural tour of one of Sydney’s most significant historic sites. Built in 1858, Sydney Observatory is one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. It is recognised as an item of ‘state significance’ by the New South Wales Government and is heritage listed.

Beginning as the centre of scientific research for the colony of New South Wales, the Observatory has a seminal role in the history of timekeeping, meteorology, navigation and astronomy in Australia.

Now known as Observatory Hill, the site was previously known as Windmill Hill, Citadel Hill, Fort Phillip and Flagstaff Hill. Each name indicates the site’s function over time, all of which relied on it being the highest point over Sydney Harbour.

The Observatory buildings, built from stone with distinctive copper telescope domes, were built between 1857 and 1859 in the Italianate style. They combined the practical needs of an observatory with those of an astronomer’s residence. The Observatory grounds recreate the original layout and vegetation of formal gardens cultivated in the 1880s.

Tour Details: Sydney Design - Architectural tours of Sydney Observatory
Presented by the Australian Architecture Association in partnership with Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS)
Location: Sydney Observatory, 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW
Time: 2.00pm - 3.00pm
Dates:Saturday 3 September 2016 & Saturday 10 September 2016
Tickets: Adult $10 / Concession & Child $8 / Family $26 / Adult (AAA & MAAS Member) $8 / Concession & Child (AAA & MAAS Member) $6 / Family (AAA & MAAS Member) $22
Accessibility: Please note there is no wheelchair access to many of the Sydney Observatory spaces due to narrow and steep staircases in the heritage-listed buildings.  Strollers must be cloaked on arrival.

Click here to book your tickets.

During the festival you can also explore the architecture and history of the areas surrounding the Sydney Observatory. Join the AAA on the The Rocks Walk and stroll with us through the hilly terrain to experience how heritage and contemporary architecture co-exists in harmony.

Discover the marks left on the district by the plague of 1900 and major infrastructure projects such as the wharves and the harbour bridge.

We will also witness the metamorphosis of the area into new residential, commercial, recreational and cultural uses of the 21st Century after the port facilities moved away in both Walsh Bay and Barangaroo.

Tour Details: The Rocks Walk
Location: Meet at the Harbourside Forecourt, Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George St, The Rocks, NSW 2000
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Date: Saturday 10 September 2016
Tickets: Public $20 / Senior & Student $15 (ID required to join the walk) / AAA Members Free
Accessibility: Please note the tour encompasses climbing stairs and walking over uneven surfaces.

Click here to book your place on the tour.


Sydney Design 2016 is now in its 19th year. This annual contemporary design festival creates a platform for a convergence of people, ideas and activities across creative industry sectors.

Sydney Design program content provides visitors with an opportunity to unpack design in all its forms – to understand and explore the processes, functions and narratives within design enterprise and to be inspired by the exhibitions and people involved in creating our futures.

This year the Sydney Design festival explores the theme ‘Make or Break’ and examines the tension between success and failure and how designers are creatively using and deconstructing production methods and design histories to create solutions.

Click here to explore What’s On over the festival calendar.





Residential Bus Tour - 30 July

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Discover four contemporary homes over one day on the NSW AAA Residential Bus Tour. Taking place on Saturday 30 July 2016, explore some of the most interesting new, renovated contemporary and heritage residential architecture on the North Shore, Lower North Shore and Inner West of Sydney. Meet the architects who worked on the houses to learn first hand the different ways homes are designed and constructed to satisfy the needs of their clients and respond to the surrounding environment.

On the tour you will explore the insides and outsides of residences designed by architects such as Bijl Architecture, Bennett & Trimble Architects, Greenbox Architecture and Jorge Hrdina Architects.

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Date: Saturday 30 July 2016
Time: 9.30am - 5.30pm
Tickets: $195 (public) / $175 (AAA Members)

A delicious meal is included in the price of the tour and is great opportunity to get to know like minded design enthusiasts as well as some of the architects in a relaxed setting.

Tickets will sell out fast, so book now to learn how the designs evolved and be inspired!

Click here to secure your place on the tour

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens & Annette Dearing
  • Image 1: (provided by Greenbox Architecture) Castlecrag House designed by Greenbox Architecture
  • Image 2: (provided by Jorge Hrdina Architects) Killara House designed by Jorge Hrdina Architects


Exploring Modern Architecture

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The Australian Architecture Association is launching an exciting new event called 'Exploring Modern Architecture'. On Sunday 31 July, tour three outstanding houses in Castlecrag that illustrate how ideas about modernity and what constitutes good house design evolved over the twentieth century and into the twenty first. Spanning a period of approximately seven decades, the three homes are innovative examples of their time. You'll be led on a tour of interiors and exteriors by historical experts as well as some of the original architects. At the end of the tour you are also invited to enjoy a light repast, be entertained by a panel discussion and discuss your own opinions on what is good design. 

Australian Architecture Association launching a new event to encourage the growing interest in good house design

On Sunday July 31st this year, the Australian Architecture Association is introducing a new type of event intended to deepen the understanding of modern architecture amongst people who have a broad interest in design.  It is structured to answer three sets of questions:

  1. What are the essential elements of good residential architecture?
  2. What can be learned by looking at outstanding houses from the recent past?  What distinguishes an enduring design element from a faddish add-on?
  3. What can be learnt from careful consideration of outstanding buildings which would benefit non-architects in making judgements about design?

During the afternoon, participants will be guided through three outstanding houses from different eras, each considered “highly innovative” when built.  Immediately afterwards, they will gather for a panel discussion which will aim to reveal insights on the nature of good modern architecture and its evolution which have arisen from the earlier house tours.  Citing and discussing specific examples will help generate forward-looking, broadly applicable ideas and concepts.

Three ‘highly innovative’ houses from three different times

Participants will visit three exemplary architect designed houses situated close to each other in Castlecrag but built decades apart:

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  • Walter Burley Griffin’s 1929 Fishwick house.  His prominent and celebrated Castlecrag showpiece experts consider to be at the forefront of Australia’s most important early 20th century houses.  Crammed with design ideas considered radically new at the time, but now commonplace.

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  • Andre Porebski’s 1973 Maley house.  An elegantly-designed building with carefully sculpted spaces drawing on the principles of International Modernism.  A raised circular “pod” forms a striking, elevated dining area within its cube-like structure.  Harmony with and respect for its Griffin neighbour was a primary architectural constraint.

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  • Stanic Harding’s 2001 Newton house.  A stunning multi-levelled structure with a complex linkage of interior and exterior spaces ultimately focusing on its beautiful harbour and bushland views.  A four metre high glass wall complements its otherwise robust white interior.

Stop Press.  Another launch event at the same gathering:  fishwickhouse.org

Also celebrated at the Fishwick house will be the launch of its own website.  A product of many years’ research, indications are that this will be the first not-for-profit site for a privately owned and occupied residence.  Designed to fill evident gaps in knowledge of this extraordinary, complex building, the site includes over 150 images from 19 professional and specialist photographers, cinematographers and artists, including Max Dupain.  Evidencing Griffin’s brilliance, ingenuity and creativity, it provides details of the house’s history, prominence, significance and architectural qualities and documents some forty of his radically new design elements.

Panellists and discussion

The early evening panel discussion will be at the Fishwick house - highly appropriate because this was a frequent meeting and socialising place for members of early Castlecrag community groups, including the Griffins.  An informal, social atmosphere will encourage broad participation.

Panel members will be:

  • Tone Wheeler.  President of the AAA.  Commentator, advisor, critic and lecturer.  In 1996 founded Environa Studio, one of Australia’s leading sustainable architecture practices, which produces highly innovative, yet practical and liveable structures underpinned by strong design concepts - often experimental.
  • Andre Porebski.  Founding partner of Porebski Architects was at the very beginning of his five decade career when he gained the Maley commission.  The practice remains tightly-focussed and its success has been attributed to its sharp, disciplined architectural thinking.
  • Andy Harding.  Founding partner of Stanic Harding & Associates, winner of over 20 architectural awards including the 2001 RAIA housing award for the Newton house.  Famed for their highly detailed approach to architecture forming simple compositions with strong expression.
  • Tim Ross. Comedian, writer, broadcaster and TV presenter. His live show Man About the House is performed exclusively in Architecturally significant houses. In August 2016 his two part documentary on the evolution of the Australian suburbs, Streets of Your Town, premieres on ABC TV. Tim lives in a 1959 house designed by Bill Baker.
  • Anne Watson. Formerly curator of architecture and design at the Powerhouse Museum. Curated numerous exhibitions including the Griffins, Marc Newson and the Sydney Opera House.  Editor of “Beyond Architecture” on the Griffins' work in America, Australia and India, “Building a Masterpiece” on the Opera House.  


Time: 2.30pm - 6.30pm
Date: Sunday 31 July 2016
Location: Castlecrag
Note: Meeting Point and addresses for the houses will be emailed out to tour participants in the days immediately preceding the tour.
Tickets: $90 (Public) / $80 (AAA Member)

As numbers are limited, book early so you don't miss out on this unique event exploring three privately owned modern residences.

Click here to secure your place on the tour.

  • Article: Annette Dearing & Vanessa Couzens
  • Image 1 & 2: Fishwick House designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin (Photographer Alasdair McGregor)
  • Image 2 & 3: Maley House designed by Andre Porebski (Photographer Michael Nicholson)
  • Image 4 & 5: Newton House designed by Stanic Harding (Photographer Andy Harding)

Black Talk By UK Architect Julian Lipscombe

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Don't miss out on the 2016 AAA Black Talk by Julian Lipscombe, Director of UK firm Bennetts Associates, taking place on Wednesday 20 July. Hosted by AAA sponsor Austral Bricks at their Brickworks Design Studio, this talk promises to be an inspirational insight into how great architecture can enrich our experience of the built environment.

An Evolution in Approach

What role is there for a distinctive 'Sense of Place' in the seemingly inexorable tide of globalisation sweeping through architecture and the built environment?

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Julian Lipscombe (Director of UK firm Bennetts Associates) will explore his views on the subject by showcasing current work in helping to reimagine "The Original Modern City" and a headquarters for a major luxury brand. These commissions for Manchester and Jaguar Land Rover capture many themes that have evolved in Bennetts Associates approach to urban design and 'place' over the years.

The talk will chart this evolution as well as exploring its root in observation and the writings of Camillo Sitte, Gordon Cullen, Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl and the like. In so doing, Julian will track essays on the subject in the practice's forthcoming book - Bennetts Associates: Five Insights.

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As founding members of the UK Green Building Council, Bennetts Associates has a solid reputation as one of the countries leading environmentally sustainable designers and Julian Lipscombe has overseen the design and construction of an impressive portfolio of multi-award winning and sustainable projects across the UK and Europe.

Bennetts Associates was established in 1987 and have offices in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Their dedication to approaching site and location with sensitivity, respect for history in adaptive reuse and intent to design sustainable buildings with a unique identity, has garnered numerous awards for the practice in all aspects of design and construction.

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These include 18 RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) awards and two ‘Prime Minister’s Better Public Building’ awards – for the Jubilee Library in Brighton and 5 Pancras Square in King’s Cross, London - which also won the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) Mixed Use and Other category in the Best of BREEAM 2016 Awards.

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Bennetts Associates has twice been voted UK Architectural Practice of the Year by Building magazine and was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize for the third time in 2011, for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Julian Lipscombe has presented to AAA audiences on two previous occasions. In 2014 he spoke about Bennetts Associates role in the transformation of Kings Cross which has been cited as an exemplary model for good urban planning. In 2012 Julian discussed Bennetts Associates design ethos and primary inspirations for the firms work, with the talk culminating in a case study of their design for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Time: 6.30pm - 8.00pm
Date: Wednesday 20 July 2016
Location: Brickworks Design Studio, 50 Carrington Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Cost: $50 (Early Bird Public - until 10 July 2016) / $60 (Public - After 10 July 2016) / $40 (AAA Members) / $35 (Students)
Note: Corporate members receive complimentary tickets, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Previous AAA audiences have raved about how great a speaker Julian Lipscombe is, this is definitely a talk you won’t want to miss. Click here to book your tickets.

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  • Article: Vanessa Couzens & Bennetts Associates
  • Images Source: Bennetts Associates
  • Image 1,2,3 & 4: HS2 Manchester Piccadilly SRF is Bennetts Associates vision for the transformation of 140 acres (14%) of Manchester city centre and Piccadilly Station, triggered by the advent of the HS2 a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom directly linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.
  • Image 5 & 6: The Shaftesbury Theatre, in London’s West End.
  • Image 7 & 8: 5 Pancras Square Camden, London, winner in the BREEAM Mixed Use and Other category Best of BREEAM 2016 Awards.
  • Image 9 & 10: Private Residence in Cumbria UK, winner of a North West Award in the 2016 RIBA Regional Awards.