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Category: HISTORY


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Contempt for History

Contempt for History
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Buildings come and go. Some overstay their welcome and some only appreciated when they’re gone. This post is about those buildings whose departure is protracted yet partial. All my examples are from the city of Perth, Western Australia but this post isn’t about Perth because every city will have its examples. Instead, it’s about history […]

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Parallel History

Parallel History
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I was curious about whether Hitler had really objected to flat roofs and came across an article titled Mies and the Nazis. I read that Hitler had said something along the lines that to be German was to be logical. Gropius therefore, was certainly German for thinking flat roofs were superior for technical and practical […]

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The 3 R’s

The 3 R’s
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The Three R’s used to without irony refer to Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic but, more recently, we know them as the sustainability performance mantras Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. There are as many R’s as you want. Re-use works for buildings but Repair works better for washing machines and Replace better for old refrigerators. It’s not […]

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Another Level

Another Level
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Despite living all my life in a postmodern world where the same project continues with successive reincarnations as different styles, I still believe there was more to history than referencing it. Admittedly, the emphasis on referential facade design as perception management went a long way to enable the optimization of development gain. Apart from one […]

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Second Time Around

Second Time Around
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This curious nautical building with the striped masonry is Shanghai’s Gutzlaff Signal Tower. It was built in 1907 and the podium was added in 1927. Flags provided the weather forecast and a ball on the mast dropped at midday so mariners and townspeople could adjust their clocks. This little functional building facilitated the shipping that […]

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The Historic Façade

The Historic Façade
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New buildings are usually proposed for reasons of development gain but people remain attached to old buildings because of familiarity, sense of historical continuity, and sometimes even for showing a level of craft and attention to detail unthinkable now. The perfect developer/architectural product would have all the development gain of a new building combined with […]

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Claude Megson

Claude Megson
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Beethoven, Schubert and Danzi all died about 1825, well into the Industrial Revolution. Invention was now valued in this new thing called industry, and increasingly so with music. Dainty Mozart wigs were out and tempestuous Beethoven hair was in. As the 18th century bore on, there was increasing pressure on artists and musicians to invent […]

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1965–1980 Japan

1965–1980 Japan
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Neighbours on Longitude 135° was the backslappy motto of Australia’s presence at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. An accompanying graphic showed longitude 135°E pleasingly spanning the middle of Australia and the expo’s location of Kansai still regarded by many as the heart of Japan. Many Japanese thought the Australian pavilion reminded them of Hokusai’s famous […]

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The Will of the Epoch (1/2)

The Will of the Epoch (1/2)
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Large buildings don’t build themselves. They’re always going to be the product of some well thought-out and scaled-up system of production. The field of project management exists to comprehend and control this system to deliver the required result at the appropriate level of quality, the required budget and the required time. I used to begin […]

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1950–1965 Australia

1950–1965 Australia
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An Unfinished Experiment in Living is the title of a 2018 book describing Australian architect-designed houses over the period 1950–1965, and how they not only reflected what was happening in Australian society but created the grounds for wider changes. It was a time when architecture could make a difference – until it wasn’t anymore. Hence the […]