February 27, 2013

‘God is in the details’ is a quote often attributed to modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but in fact was coined by Gustave Flaubert, the most influential of French naturalist authors. The creator of the nineteenth century masterpiece Madame Bovary was such a stickler for detail that to read his novel is to experience a total immersion in the intricacies of life in small town France. He would even draw up maps of the fictitious streets through which his adulterous shopaholic Emma Bovary would bustle, on the look out for her lover Léon (or was it Rudolphe, or both?)

Now, I’m no Flaubert but I’ve got to say I am captivated by the level of detail we have achieved in one of our most significant projects to date, this private house facing the Pacific ocean. It has become something of a cliché to say that Eastern Seaboard housing is all about spectacular …

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February 22, 2013

Intelligent, sensitive exhibitions of contemporary architects and the houses they make are rare. Intelligent, sensitive exhibitions of a group of contemporary architects, together, in one space (we are, it must be said, a notoriously competitive lot…) are even more rare. So when we first heard of Dale Jones-Evans’ Icons By Icons show late last year, we were intrigued. Originally unveiled at the Studio Becker showroom in Redfern, the same show opens again tonight, this time in the more intimate space of the Australian Institute of Architects’ HQ in Potts Point.

The show is the first in what Jones-Evans has conceived as a ‘series of three intergenerational exhibitions’, starting with the undisputed maestros such as Glenn Murcutt, John Wardle and Denton Corker Marhsall; the next to feature their successor generation, and the third intended to showcase the work of rising talent.

By focusing specifically on practices along the Eastern Seaboard, Jones-Evans is making …

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February 19, 2013

The Utzon Room is one of those magical spaces I can only imagine existing in Sydney. Tucked under the eaves at the North-East end of Jørn Utzon’s iconic Opera House, it’s an elegant, intimate room designed for receptions and parties. But its folded concrete beams and soap-washed Blue Gum floors also mean that its acoustics are no less majestic than the view – overlooking Farm Cove and across the Harbour to the Heads. A perfect salon, then, in which to listen to chamber music. Which is just what I will be doing next Sunday the 24th when pianist Dejan Lazić regales us with his masterful repertoire of Scarlatti and Bartók. The thirty-something Croatian only made his debut with the BBC Philharmonic in 2011, and I’m intrigued to hear how this new talent tackles two of my favourite European masters of the sonata. The Utzon Program is a savvy lineup of visiting and local talent, throughout 2013. …

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February 15, 2013

Last night I detected the first crisp breeze of Autumn (hey, don’t shoot the messenger!) and so I got to thinking about updating my wardrobe for the incoming chill. Looking over the European Autumn/Winter 2013 collections, held last month in Paris and Milan, there were a few looks I found very tempting indeed.

Bottega Veneta –  This caramel cashmere anorak (1) is pretty close to perfect. It’s flat front and oversized pockets on trend enough to look relevant, but not overblown enough to make me look like a victim. I can only imagine just how good it feels to the touch.

Dior Homme – An impeccable suit (2) designed by Belgian Kris Van Assche for that most iconic of Parisian brands. Van Assche effortlessly effaces all extraneous design elements, allowing for a chic, sleek silhouette that is almost architectural in its rigour.

Valentino – This two-piece suit (3) definitely has a bit of the Dolce Vitas about it. It’s interesting to …

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February 8, 2013

We’ve been in a Norway state of mind of late. No, it’s not about Munch or Ibsen or even the rather lush Liv Ullmann. What’s been on our mind is this really innovative design studio called Snøhetta. We’ve mostly been aware of their trans-Atlantic (Oslo/New York) practice for a while, but it was a recent feature in The New Yorker (21 Jan 2013) that really got us intrigued. They’ve just completed the quietly spectacular Oslo Opera House that, like shards of an impacted iceberg, crushes and juts its way into existence from the shoreline of an icy fjord. Equally open to the forces of nature, their undulating wooden reindeer viewing station is a pure exercise in elegance and restraint. The size and dimensions of a regular shipping container, its molded wooden slats undulate organically on the edge of a pristine deer reserve in the tundra, a half day’s drive north of Oslo. And then, …

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February 5, 2013

Cooper Park is one of those lush, narrow gullies scattered through Sydney’s hilly topography that you just seem to stumble upon, almost unawares. Dated to the Jurassic age, it is a steep, scrubby isthmus effectively separating Edgecliff from Bellevue Hill. A tiny neighbourhood, sure, but also an intriguing one, so much does it seem to echo with the sounds and sensations of a distant past. Of course, at Tobias Parters one of our priorities – from an ecological, as well as an aesthetic stand point – is to be open to the environment in which we conceive and construct our structures. So, when the client approached us to come up with a four-bedroom family home on a prime Cooper Park plot, we were thrilled.

Essentially, the project is an almost Cubist study in blocks, cascading down a rather steep slope. The volumes themselves are derived from the desire to capture views from the minute you enter …

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