01 May 2011


'What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others' 'Pericles'

Pericles might be right but architecture is defined by its materiality, starting from ideas, briefing documents into sketches and drawings, contractor, specialist consultants come on board and the list carries on endlessly. No architect achieves fulfillment until all his/her efforts eventuate into engraved stone monuments! There are no short cuts, there is no way around... the thought of 'to build or not to build' often troubles my mind.  In an attempt to reconcile my teaching practice with the making of buildings I need to accept a degree of separation, the proximity between me and those creators of stone monuments such as students, friends and colleagues is very close indeed. In my view such degree of separation seems like an abysmal divide...  a bridge is to unfold though.
GAM - 1st May 2011

Draw the Line Exhibition, Ian Potter Centre,  Melbourne

National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

Photo by Carla Barella. F. Gehry's DG Bank Pariser Platz, Berlin

There are countless architecture projects wich never made it to see daylight. Proposals and competition submissions with great potential to become those stone monuments. That is what we refer as paper architecture - a degree of separation between stone-existance and paper-existance. From top of my head paper architecture include awarded - but never executed - projects such as I. M. Pei's Kennedy Library; Jean Nouvel's Carré d'Art in Nîmes; Zaha Hadid's Welsh Opera House; Calatrava's Berlin Reichstag; Daniel Libdeskin's NY Freedom Tower, Karl Mosel's modernist towers in Zurich...  only to mention few out of 'nearly built'...  and surely this category falls in the zillions throughout history!

On the other hand I am learning that paper architecture more often than not tell us of a very real and tangible outcome. Competition submissions often morph and eventuate into real stone monuments. In many cases the first attempt is not the one that gets realised but the one that follows. Being a competition finalist sets architects on a stage where a second place can lead into a real outcome - ie. Jean Nouvel with the Nemasus Housing  in Nîmes offered shortly after losing Carré d'Art (to Norman Foster) or Peter Walker losing last year a section of Barangaroo Headland Park in Sydney - he instead got the master plan for 22 hectare visionary project.

As for 2011, April is gone - May is here. I truly enjoyed a number of architecture events over the last few weeks. Most notorious the Australian Architecture National Conference with the theme of "Natural Artifice" held at the Melbourne Convention Centre (14-16 April). All times masters were invited such as Fumihiko Maki, Pritzker Prize Laureate; Finnish architect and philosopher Juhani Pallasmaa; Spanish Luis Mansilla; Manuel Aires Mateus from Portugal; Luis Callejas and Sebastian Mejia from Colombia; François and Stephanie Roche of R&Sie(n) France; Sean Godsell, Melbourne; Teresa Moller from Chile; Iwamoto Scott from San Francisco were amongst some of the international names presenting inspiring projects. On a more personal level I spent an afternoon at Wood/Marsh Architecture studio in Port Melbourne invited by Randal Marsh to have lunch and browse through projects and artwork. I was most impressed with their art collection of contemporary Australian painting and sculpture. Most surprising was to realise how close they got to winning Federation Square, a great proposal and missoportunity too. It is all now part of the so called "paper architecture"!

Melbourne Museum by Denton Corker and Marshal DCM Architecture

ACCA [Australian Centre for Contemporary Art] by Wood/March architecture

The Yellow Peril [aka the Vault] by Ron Robertson-Swan. Melbourne 1978  

20th May 2011
Since I last visited my blog early May I have learned more about paper architecture. I have been invited by friends architects to open talks and presentations on their most innovative projects, ready to go but not built for one or another reason, a reason beyond their control. I would just leave it as not built...yet!

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