Compared with fields such as music or film there are comparatively few resources for Australian architecture on the World Wide Web. However, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been doing its work and has two great sites on contemporary Australian architecture.
The site of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) is your first stop on the web for architecture’s professional association, information on design awards or to contact an architect in your area and the Association Consulting Architects Australia provides a similar service. Architecture Australia, RAIA’s official national magazine is also online and RMIT produce Aardvark. A comprehensive list of books about Australian architecture is available online at Architext.
Much of the innovative architecture being produced in Australia at the moment is being driven by large public infrastructure projects. This has long been the case in Australia, with Canberra introducing innovation in urban design through the plans devised by American architect Walter Burley Griffin, and projects such as the Sydney Olympic Stadium and Melbourne Docklands revitalising precincts in their respective cities.
Like the Sydney Opera House these large projects often cause controversy with Melbourne’s Federation Square the centre of much debate over its architectural ‘shards’.
World Heritage Australian Architecture
The Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne was constructed in 1880 to house Australia’s first international exhibition of cultural, technological, and industrial achievements. It was used at the Melbourne Centennial celebrations in 1888 and as the Opening of the Australian Commonwealth Parliament on 9 May 1901. The building is located in the Carlton Gardens in Melbourne, and is one of the most intact world fair buildings and the only surviving ‘Great Hall of the Palace of Industry’ from the Exhibition Movement that began with the 1851Great Exhibition in London at the Crystal Palace.
The Exhibition Building was nominated for World Heritage listing in November 2002. The nomination for listing is under a specific cultural criterion: that it exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee announced on 1 July 2004 that the Royal Exhibition Building had been successful in gaining a World Heritage listing, making it the first non-Aboriginal cultural site in Australia to win such a listing.
Architecture on the ABC
In The Mind of the Architect
In The Mind of the Architect is an ABC produced website that coincided with their three part television series on contemporary Australian architecture.
The site features virtual tours of cutting-edge Australian architecture, transcripts and audio-visual slide show highlights of the programs. You can also build your own architecturally designed house and participate in a webchat with some of the nation’s prominent and up-and-coming architects.
Postcards From Venice
The ABC’s online monthly arts and culture magazine Headspace featured a report on Australia’s contribution to the Exhibition of Architecture at the Venice Biennale.
Using 20,000 postcards over two walls, Lyons Architects installation City of Fiction represented Australia at the 7th International Exhibition of Architecture at the Venice Biennale. Visitors to the Australian Pavilion were invited to take away layers of the postcards as a souvenir and in turn leave their mark on the exhibition.
The Space, the ABC’s gateway to arts and culture, has many resources available in its online Design – from bikinis to buildings area.
2004 Australian Year of the Built Environment – Imagining the Future
The Western Australian Government proclaimed 2004 as the Year of the Built Environment. The initiative gained the support of the Federal Government to make the Year an Australia wide event.
Australians are becoming more aware of the natural environment and the need to appreciate and protect it, but not so conscious of the built environment and its affect on our lifestyle and well-being. The Year of the Built Environment was designed to foster awareness of the environment that has been ‘created, modified, constructed, developed, arranged or maintained by humans – that’s domestic and public buildings, infrastructure, landscaping, and other man-made features of our communities’ .
The Year provided an opportunity for Australians to question, reveal, appreciate and understand how structures, buildings, places and streetscapes, which form our built environment, impact on our lives and those of future Australians. Events and activities held throughout the year included conferences and seminars, competitions, workshops, heritage tours and study trips, and local government celebrations of their own unique built environments.