Noting new books at Architext.
|A History of European Housing in Australia|
Edited by Patrick Troy, CambridgeUniversity Press, $38.40.
This is not a book about architecture. Indeed, one of the contributors claims that “we need to rewrite the history of Australian housing from the inside out: beginning, not with architectural styles… but with the underlying convictions about domestic life which shaped people’s ideas of home”. And here lies the main concern of this series of essays: the idea of the home in Australia (c.f. At Home in New Zealand: History Houses People, ed. Barbara Brookes. Bridget Williams Books, 2000). The essays provide a wealth of information on various subjects ranging from building regulations through to the impact of stoves and washing machines; the relationship between the detached house and its garden; the role of home ownership within Australian society; neighbourliness; and the flip-side of all these things, homelessness. Of particular interest to me were Nicholas Brown’s chapter on the changing uses and meanings of rooms and, at the other end of the scale, Lionel Frost’s chapter on the development of urban services and infrastructure.
The book argues that the detached house has been Australia’s preferred form of housing since white settlement. It gives little attention to terrace housing, and tells us several times that blocks of flats have never been popular in Australia. An essay exploring flats might have shown otherwise – that medium density blocks were an esteemed expression of modernity in the 1930s, and/or that the advantages of higher density housing were promoted post World War II as an alternative to suburban sprawl.
But one book cannot cover everything, and this is a thoroughly researched, highly accessible, series of essays on the detached house. It is ideal for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of the use and development of this building type, and for architects doing sensitive additions and alterations to it.
Notice by Julia Gatley.
|Architecture Bali: Architectures of Welcome|
Philip Goad and Patrick Bingham-Hall.Pesaro Architectural Monographs, $54.95.
Although called Architecture Bali, this book
actually concerns one very specific, relatively
new, aspect of Balinese architecture: the
luxury hotels that began to be built in the
1970s and which were temporarily halted by
the “Asian crisis”. One (not featured in this
book) is now a half-built ruin, so it seems
particularly ironic that, at the time of
reviewing, most copies of this book were
stranded on a ship on the Great Barrier Reef.
Following Kerry Hill’s brief, thoughtful
introduction, Philip Goad outlines the history
of this hybrid building type and draws links
with international and Australian architectural
developments of the 1970s (many of the
architects have Australian backgrounds).
Goad shows once again how deftly he can
turn his hand to diverse material. However,
one of the strengths of recent Pesaro
Monographs has been the dual-essay format,
so it is disappointing not to have Goad’s
elegant work complemented by another
writer – perhaps one with particular expertise
in Asian architecture and post-colonial
thinking. Goad points to the complexity of the
touristic engagement, noting that other writers
have come to no conclusions in this regard,
but it would be interesting to have these
issues canvassed more fully. Hill observes
that “a traditional Balinese house is not a
model for Western living”; he also notes that
the hotels in question have now led to new
developments in other forms of Balinese
architecture: “rather like reverse osmosis….
The impact of the modern hotel on Bali’s built
(and unbuilt) landscape is immeasurable”. It
would be interesting to know more about this
enfolding of similar but culturally different
architectures. However, such discussions are
perhaps beyond the scope of this book,
which does beautifully demonstrate the
delicate balance achieved in the ten hotels
featured. Patrick Bingham-Hall’s sumptuous
photographs certainly made me wish I had
the cashflow to be welcomed into these
sensual, sybaritic spaces. But for the
moment the photographs will have to do.
Rod Sheard, Spon, $138.60.
Written by a principal of HOK LOB, this large,
practically-oriented volume is devoted to the
design of sports buildings. The case studies
are all projects in which HOK LOB have been
involved and include Stadium Australia, the
WestpacTrust Stadium in Wellington and
Melbourne’s Colonial Stadium.
|Statues: Decorative, Household, Commemorative and Practical|
George Molnar, Duffy & Snellgrove,$24.95.
This reprint of Molnar’s 1954 book Statues includes a second, previously unpublished, section “More Statues”. Molnar taught architecture at the universities of New South Wales and Sydney, and was a cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. He prefaced his 1954 collection with a call for less abstraction and more humanism: “The first step is to have more statues”. Although some of the cartoons seem a little dated, most still raise a wry smile and are perhaps all the more amusing now that we have lived through post-modernism and come out the other side.
|Architects' Data 3E|
Ernst and Peter Neufert, edited by
Bouhasma Baiche and Nicholas
Walliman, Blackwell Science, $245.30.
The third edition of this dense, useful source
book includes much updated information.
The facts and figures are supplied in the
belief that, “if creative designers are given
only the constituent parts, as is the intention
here, they are compelled to weave the
components together into their own
imaginative and unified construction”.
However, the measurement basis is still
“Man: the universal standard” and, as the
editors point out, climate information is most
relevant to the northern hemisphere.