October 30, 2013

Springtime in Sydney means Sculpture by the Sea. Tobias Partners Associate Aubrey Chan took an evening stroll from Bondi to Tamarama and had this to say:

“I decided to check out this year’s installation the evening before the official launch, a fantastic way to really experience the artworks in their solitude. And it was one of those glorious summertime evenings the make you feel so smug about being a Sydneysider, having such easy access to such a spectacular natural setting. There’s definitely a little for everyone this year. Symbolic, strong sculptural pieces, playful kitchy Pop art, bigger-is-better splashes of colour, sensory pieces playing off the movement and energy of the coast, and some really interesting interactive work. (If only I could climb up David McCraken’s monolithic Diminish and Ascend, a concrete stairway to heaven that provides a perfect platform from which to check out the progress on our Ben Buckler site.) My personal favourites: …

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October 28, 2013

What amazing night it was, gathered at the ‘skirts’ of the Opera House with a few thousand of Sydney’s glitterati (and the Danish Royal Family) to officially ring in the 40th anniversary of the greatest Australian icon. It was so moving to hear the speakers evoke the pride – in a nation, in a culture, in a practice, in a family – that Jørn Utzon’s masterpiece incarnates. The Utzon family feel like our own, and they were in attendance to celebrate a very grand member of theirs. Jørn’s son, Jan Utzon who worked closely alongside his father until his death in 2008 gave a rousing speech, addressing the Opera House as he would a member of his clan. “Since your conception you have dominated our lives.” he said. And I am proud to know that she will always be a part of mine.


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October 23, 2013

As far as iconic buildings go, the Opera House is up there with the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum. Every time I get a glimpse of Jørn Utzon’s expressionist masterpiece, a thrill of recognition and inspiration goes up my spine. Audacious, it summed up the optimism of the 1960s and pushed Sydney onto the world stage for the first time since settlement. In terms of architectural innovation, the cupped ‘shells’ pushed precast concrete to the limit of its capabilities, the glass curtain wall of the foyer was revolutionary and the off-form concrete interior still amazes me to this day. Yes, it’s the 40th anniversary of an icon – and oversized cupcakes aside, it is a moment of great joy and pride for me, and for every architect practicing in the country today To mark the moment, the Powerhouse museum has released a revised and updated version of its book, Building …

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October 16, 2013

The CBD used to be a dire, soulless place peopled by businessmen in badly cut suits eating second-rate food in dingy pub bars. As its name indicated, it was a district in the centre of the city for people conducting business, basta. Today, of course, all that has changed. If central Sydney has not yet attained the allure of Melbourne’s almost magical laneways, it is now a district frequented by men in suits of repute and glamorous women wheeling and dealing at lunches in some of the world’s finest dining establishments. What I particularly love, though, is the huge variety of cultural events peppered throughout the city; down at Circular Quay, at the MCA, around the State Library, Chinatown or the Botanical Gardens, there’s just stuff going on all the time. One of the loveliest things is A Lttle Lunch Music at the City Recital Hall on Angel Place. Each month, there’s a terrific …

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October 14, 2013

When we were planning the grounds of our South Coast home in Tilba, Miranda and I invited our friend, horticulturalist and author Myles Baldwin down to landscape the place for us. For years, Myles has shown himself to be highly sensitive to the nuance of quietly shifting native plant life, but also to the lives of the folk who dwell on the properties he landscapes and has photographed. He’s not only unobtrusive, he’s a total pleasure to have around! Even more pleasurable, though, is seeing the beautiful images he curates assembled into a chic compendium by publishers Allen & Unwin. To my knowledge, no horticulturalist/author has focused on Australia’s unique coastal plains gardens before, and the choice is perfect since these plateaux provide a rich, varied terre and as a result encourage the growth of quite extraordinary plant families. On the softly undulating grounds of Tilba, for instance, he planted a perimeter of Melaleuca …

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October 3, 2013

I am really excited to be among the jury of world travelers to elect Wallpaper* magazine’s Best Urban Hotels 2013 list. The jurors – including Gordon Vene Klasen, director of Werner Gallery (New York), Cynthia Chua, the founder of Esprit Group (Singapore), Thornsten Schmidt, chef and owner of Aarhus (Copenhagen), Guglielmo Miani, president and CEO of Larusmiani (Milan) – have clocked up thousands of air miles and stayed in dozens of top-notch hosteleries in a variety of countries around the globe. We’re meant to represent the discerning traveler, the one who wants a real experience in a fabulous setting that somehow represents something special about the culture we are visiting. The days of the mammoth brand, mono-cultured chain hotels are over! At the same time, we want efficiency and ease – WiFi and a house spa are no longer optional extras, they’re a must. The shortlist is out now, and it includes some tried and …

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