Archive 2012

Northern Suburbs Residential Bus Tour


1209f2As we say goodbye to winter, it's time to do some outing with us on our next residential bus tour on 13 October!

Go inside some of the most interesting contemporary, residential architecture in Northbridge, Cremorne, Castlecrag, Fairlight and Seaforth.  Projects by architects David Boyle, David Smyth, Jorge Hrdina, Manfredini McCrae architects, Vivianne Marston are included in this full day bus tour.  Walk with these architects and listen to their story about how the projects were developed and became a reality.

This all day tour includes lunch, commentary and coach travel. Book early so you don't miss out!

(Photos: Above - House by David Smyth; Right - House by David Boyle)

CPD Talks Series - Shading Innovations


Our next CPD talk will focus on shading innovations and passive solar design principles.

Passive design is practiced throughout the world and has been shown to produce buildings with low energy costs, reduced maintenance and superior comfort. The talk will also focus on UV efficiency (difference between high quality products and other products), fading issues, light transmission issues, external wind exposure and control with motorisation linked to sensors for better efficiency motors/energy consumption.

Our presenter will be James Thompson from Rolletna.  It's now September and don't leave all your CPD responsibility to the last months.  Book now!


The Longhouse, Pokolbin, Hunter Valley


On 1 July, a full bus of AAA supporters attended a Hunter Valley Bus Tour lead by Brian Suters of Suters Architects.  Amongst the building we visited, the most unique project was the Longhouse, a tourist accommodation project conceived, designed, built and run by a group of students from the University of Newcastle.


The three two-bedroom units are arranged side by side in a long rectangular building facing 25 hectares of Chardonnay grapes vineyards. The middle of each unit is the the living room and kitchen with is a bedroom with ensuite on both sides.  The longhouse is styled on a traditional Australian woolshed. The cladding timber was recycled from a 130-year-old woolshed in Western Australia.


The smooth polished concrete benchtop and the floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors contrast well with the warmth of timber.  The entry side is a sliding corrugated steel wall, allowing two sides of the unit to open for pleasant summer breezes while in winter, the fireplace and the angle of the eaves allow winter sun to warm the interior up.


The project was conceived by  a group of architecture students from the University of Newcastle.  After completing their third year, they started this project other than going to work in an architectural practice for practical experience.  Two of the students, Dean Williams and Jo Baker were there during our tour to tell us about the project.  They recalled in a lecture, Glenn Murcutt, the Founding President of AAA, said one needs to understand the contruction process in order to design good architecture.  They then thought, what would be better to understand the process then designing and constructing a building themselves?  They gathered several like-minded students and sourced initial funding from their family and eventually bought a vineyard in the Hunter Valley.


During the design and construction process, a lot of professionals and suppliers offered help, they also recruited architecture students from overseas to help on site.  After two years, the project was finally completed in late 2011.  Since they started taking bookings for the accommodation, the response was very good and weekends are fully booked three months in advance!  The students not only learnt a lot about constructions and management through making their design into reality, they have also demostrated great entrepreneurship, a skill which is almost impossible to learn by working as a year-out intern.


Further Links:

Sculpture Walk in Art & About Sydney


Art is moving out of the institutions and taking to the streets to be enjoyed by one and all! Bring some colour into your life and join the City of Sydney for it's annual event, Art & About Sydney. Running from 21 September to 21 October 2012, the program for the festival promises works by both international and Australian artists.

This year the Australian Architecture Association is taking part in the festivities and is presenting it's Sculpture Walk as an associated event.

1209a2On Saturday 13 October join us to discover of some the permanent public art pieces that adorn the central business district of Sydney. Learn about our cultural history as it relates to artworks, the artists who created them and the surrounding cityscape. Journey through two hundred years of artistic production over two hours from 2-4pm.

Book your place on the tour here.

If you want to know what you can see and experience over the month of Art & About Sydney, visit the official website.

Travel: AAA Volunteer Ben Gerstel in NT

I was lucky enough this school holidays to experience the Northern Territory in its many permutations. After flying into Darwin from Sydney (when you could fly over many countries in Europe) 4.5 hours later, I am still in Australia.

We arrived in Darwin on Territory Day which meant you could buy firecrackers and fireworks and pretty much let them off anywhere. This is definitely not a “nanny state”!

Darwin has been rebuilt twice, firstly after being bombed by the Japanese in WW2 and then after Cyclone Tracy in 1974. I guess there was no time to have an urban design competition as the residents needed housing quickly. The art gallery and museum in Darwin has a very informative display on Cyclone Tracy (as well as aboriginal art and the obligatory crocodile display).

The first part of this sojourn to the north was a 4WD camping tour through Litchfield Park, Kakadu and Kathreen Gorge. It was magnificent! Mother Nature has left us with wonderfully clean and clear water holes and waterfalls for swimming in. We visited many of these with the next one being better than the last. However, you really have to work (meaning lots of walking and climbing over rocks) to get the satisfaction of these places and scenery, as they really are off the beaten track.

Of course we did a river cruise to see crocodiles in their natural habit which was scary. They really know how to camouflage themselves. Along with these prehistoric beasts, we saw a plethora of bird life and very large water lilies.

Other highlights were aboriginal rock paintings at Ubirr and its surrounding landscapes of wetlands, grasslands, mangroves, woodlands. This is one of the best sites for aboriginal art in the Kakadu area.
After Kakadu, we flew to Alice Springs. We went to the School of the Air which was fascinating as it is still functioning. Each child who is taught by this school is funded by the Government. The students get a computer set up to communicate with the teacher who could be hundreds of kilometers away. I was impressed by this.


From Alice, we drove to King’s Canyon. 476 kilometers later, we arrived at the Kings Canyon Resort. Kings Canyon is the canyon you see at the end of the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. If you remember, this is where the 3 actors climb up the canyon in all their finery. The circular walk around the canyon takes about 3.5 hours which is spectacular, even though there are no safety rails anywhere to stop you falling into the canyon.

Our last stop was Uluru and Kata Tjuta (another 441 kilometres away). Philip Cox who was the architect who designed the resort, Yulara there. He did a very fine job indeed. It is over 30 years old now and with the mature vegetation, looks as if it has always been there. The composition of the architectural forms, the paint colours and the landscape, create a homogenous whole.

Of course we went to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). I had a misconception that Uluru would be in a desert landscape of red sand and no vegetation like Broken Hill but I was wrong. This is a semi – arid landscape as there was an abundance of vegetation.

Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are truly amazing. You cannot grasp their size until you are standing right beside these geological masterpieces. Out of respect to the aboriginals, we did not climb the rock.

As everyone tells you, you have to watch a sunrise and sunset to see the colours change on these rocks, the clouds and the sky. All very beautiful (but very cold).


Another thing which surprised me was the sorry book at the cultural centre near Uluru. This is a book where people who took a small rock as a souvenir from this area when they visited it, could return it to the centre and make their apologies. One must remember that parts of the territory are very spiritual still to the aboriginals and us white people have to respect that. We are a very lucky country and…………....
So to me, the advertisement for the Northern Territory, “You never never know if you never never go” was very appropriate!

Article: Ben Gerstel
Images: Ben Gerstel