There was an interesting letter to the editor in Saturday’s paper this week, basically asking why Perth architecture is all so boring and uninspiring, in response to Linley Lutton’s critical comments on our city published last week. (See this article too for a response.) I won’t publish the whole letter but note these parts :
“While one does not expect our so-called architects to be in the league of Anton Gaudi of some 100 years ago, surely they could be outside of the square in imagination – or should I say out of the shoebox mentality in their designs? The current breed of apartments showing their flat faces are extremely boring…Even in former Soviet Union countries, the apartment blocks now being designed…show decades of imagination far beyond our Perth designers. They are simply not oblong boxes with the same balconies everywhere, but actually show imagination with variations, interesting shapes, carved columns and more. It’s not an Australian thing totally because there have been a few interesting shapes on our eastern borders…Can someone please tell me what it is with Perth architects? Is it our universities, perhaps an ancient curriculum, an easy exam standard or is it just too much sun killing the imagination here? Maybe it’s our councils because I believe they give no guidance or involvement at all.”
So what do we think? Are we boring? And if so, why? Where are the opportunities for the architecture innovation that seem to occur so easily in other states? I really seem to struggle to push clients to want to be innovative sometimes, and I think also there is not the competition here yet between companies / offices / apartments to try and raise the bar. Look at Perth’s biggest office project ever :
and you can see that it was designed primarily to maximise lettable area, not any particular architectural design. But then at the same time, HASSELL does this magnificent building:
So the question is, why the difference? Both offices, both city locations. Same architects, so it can’t be that the architects aren’t creative, it must be that the client just doesn’t want to try. As architects, I think we all would love to be more creative, unfortunately we just don’t often get the opportunity. How can you convince a client that they should properly design their apartment building, when the off-the-shelf ‘shoebox’ down the road is selling for the same amount? What is the client’s motivation to build better architecture? It seems most of the well designed buildings lately have had at least part public funding (140William, State Theatre, Fiona Stanley Hospital), whereas private developers maybe just want to make profit and not allow the architects to put too much ‘design thought’ in to it. Should local councils enforce more stringent design guidelines for private developers to ‘force’ creativity??
Like most of my posts…more questions than answsers…what do you guys think??