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    The top 5 topics making Architecture & Design headlines in 2015—Cities & housing, Barangaroo, Gehry & dodgy products

    Nathan Johnson

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    As another year concludes and we (the lucky ones) head off on our summer break, we decided to recap the topics in 2015 that sparked the most conversation and were the most widely read.

    From all the team at the Architecture & Design we wish you a safe and joyful Christmas and New Year period, and we look forward to reconnecting with you in 2016.

    Top 5 topics of 2015

    NON COMPLYING BUILDING PRODUCTS

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    Firefighters at the Lacrosse apartment block the morning after the fire. Photography by Nicole Garmston, Source: The Age

    When news broke that a fire in Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne’s Docklands was caused by the external cladding used in the construction of the building, a massive conversation about the glut of non-complying building products being used in Australia also ignited. For what must be the first time in history, we saw the usual cacophony of voices from our industry associations join in a common cry for the eradication non-complying building products from our shores. It even sparked a senate inquiry, from which we can expect to see results at the end of January.

    Top Related Articles:
    A crescendo of cries: Australia’s non-conforming building products crisis
    Calls for a non-conforming products taskforce
    Non-compliant cladding fuelled Melbourne apartment tower fire
    Senate Inquiry tackles non-conforming building products 


    BARANGAROO

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    By far the most talked about development in Australia this year, the 22 hectare Barangaroo precinct has already undergone a massive transformation from five years ago when it was nothing more than a container ship dockyard. And we’re only just at the beginning. Barangaroo reserve may already be open to the public but we’re yet to see any of the buildings at Barangaroo South, which includes designs from FJMT, Rogers Stirk, Wilkinson Eyre and more, reach completion. What’s more is that we’ve only just received news that tenders are out for the final piece of the Barangaroo puzzle, Barangaroo Central. A big topic surrounding the Barangaroo development is the seemingly ever-decreasing allotment of public space.

    Top Related Articles:
    Fly through new Barangaroo South concept plans - unveiled by Lend Lease
    Renzo Piano to design Sydney’s Barangaroo South residential towers
    Wilkinson Eyre drawings reveal the inspiration behind Barangaroo Crown Hotel
    The numbers behind the newly opened Barangaroo Reserve


    FRANK GEHRY’S FIRST AUSTRALIAN PROJECT

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    Photography by Coptercam, Source: BI Australia

    We first got a glimpse of Frank Gehry’s design for The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University Of Technology, Sydney (UTS) back in 2010, but it was only officially opened in February 2015. The brick and glass structure, whose façade comprises 320,000 custom designed bricks laid by hand, has been panned by some as ugly, impractical and even bad Gaudi, although the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove described it at its opening as “bold and inspiring” and “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I’ve ever seen”.

    Top Related Articles:
    Cosgrove opens Gehry’s UTS: Most beautiful squashed brown paper bag I’ve ever seen
    How home-made invention keeps Frank Gehry’s amazing Sydney brick wall from falling down
    Frank Gehry’s UTS tree house joins Sydney skyline


    CITIES AND HOUSING

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    3XN’s 50 Bridge Street tower is one of many approved architect-designed mixed use buildings awaiting development in Sydney.

    The housing debate is in full swing in Australia, particularly in its biggest urban centres, Sydney and Melbourne, where prices are rising and where populations, according to major government urban reports, are growing at a faster rate than the amount of dwellings being built to house them.

    Solutions to the ‘crisis’ have been varied. Some have called for more development of high-density apartments and residential skyscrapers for our cities, while others say medium-density options like boarding houses and co-housing will be better received by the Australian public. One consortium of architects in Melbourne is even designing apartment blocks will smaller investor returns and no car parking just to keep prices down on their dwellings. They call their apartments ‘Nightingale’.     

    Inextricably linked to the housing debate a discussion around city planning, because improving the quality and affordability of our homes is only a small answer to a much bigger question – how do we create healthy, sustainable and resilient cities?

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull created the first portfolio for Cities and the Built Environment in his Cabinet ministry to address this and his appointment of Jamie Briggs to position was widely applauded by the industry.

    Top Related Articles
    Nightingale's sustainability song falls on deaf ears
    AIA welcomes new Cabinet minister and highlights 3 priorities for better cities
    How Millenials will affect the design of our homes, cities, and towns
    Liveable cities: who decides what that means and how we achieve it?
    Words about cities are not enough


    WHO SHOULD DESIGN WHAT AND WHY

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    The Upper House by Jackson Clements Burrows Architecture is considered Austrlaia's best apartment building of 2015. Could a building designer have delivered such an outstanding project? Photography by John Gollings.

    A carry over from last year’s news regarding potential reforms to NSW’s apartment standards and the possibility for a similar standard in Victoria, conversation among building designers, architects and ruling authorities was rife this year. It was centred on who and who shouldn’t be allowed to design apartment buildings and it started at the close of 2014 when Policy & Professional Development Director of Building Designers Australia, Ian Bassett came out suggesting that restrictions on who can design multi-storey residential developments in NSW are detrimentally predicated on an architect qualification rather than relevant design competency. That was quickly responded to by the then Australian Institute of Architects National President, David Karotkin who suggested that multi-residential standards in NSW, which dictate that only architects should design apartment buildings, is considered benchmark around the country and has proven successful in raising apartment amenity. The debate continued throughout 2015 but was most noticeably reignited when an AIA consumer engagement campaign caused a stir among Victorian building designer circles and resulted in correspondence with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

    Top Related Articles

    Building designers hit back at Architects campaign and head to the ACCC
    Why multi-storey apartments should be designed by competent building designers
    Architects respond to building designers’ bid for multi-storey apartment work
    Did building designers miss an opportunity to form a national collective?

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