Wednesday, June 6, 2012


“How are things going?”
“Aw, not bad.”
“What do you know?”
“Not much.”
“I’ve been looking at some of Pete’s work.”
“Pete – Peter Cook.”
“Oh . . .truly.”
“It was interesting.”
“Indeed, he’s done some great sketches over the years – a good performer.”
“His work’s been much admired – great character.”
“Great! Cripes he’s excellent.”
“He really built his reputation in the 1960’s with some very imaginative work.”
“Oh yes, they were a good team.”
“You know – Pete and Dud. Much of their work is on YouTube. You were just looking at it.”
“No, no. I’m talking about the new building for the school of architecture at Bond University – on the Gold Coast in Queensland. I saw the drawing last night.”
“Are you joking? What’s that got to do with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore?”
“I’m talking about Peter Cook – Sir Peter Cook now – the British architect.”
“You must remember Archigram?”
“Jeez, that’s some time ago: the swinging sixties?”

“Yes, that’s right. AA, AD, conglomerate structures with everything exposed and walking cities.”
“What’s all that to do with a new school at Bond? Is it all fashionable again?”
“He’s done other work; stuff at Graz. He runs the CRAB STUDIO now with Gavin Robotham. It’s an acronym: Cook Robotham Architecture Bureau.”
“Drawing crabs? Why was he selected? Isn’t there an Australian architect good enough?”
“It was a competition.”
“So what? What do you need a ‘Sir’ for? Prestige? Foster is a Lord. That might have been better?”
“Pete’s prepared some drawings – published them too; and work has started.

“Look’s like a building with sticks in the sticks – La Tourette in an Australian paddock: but there’s no paddock at Bond; and no Dominican monks that I know of."
“It’s under construction now; and there are pine trees in the drawing, so it’s not in the sticks.”
“Oh! Still it sticks a little – in the craw.”

“It has an internal street – environmental.”
“Gosh, that sounds like the Smithsons in the 60’s, upgraded: mental gymnastics more like it. Have the 'walking city' legs gone inside now? Gone walkabout in Australia? That'll stimulate the students! ARCHITECTURE!"

“It should be an interesting building.”
“It all looks like the great Aussie cringe to me – knight; British; accent: from the ‘home’ country - as close to royalty as we could get or afford.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Why not? If it was a search for a ‘name,’ was Gehry too expensive; Hadid too busy? Was Pete the only one known? Surely an Australian was good enough? Why do we so belittle ourselves?”
“It will be an icon. The world will love it. It’ll be the Bilbao of Bond. Real architecture."
“More like a bit of Rule Britannia actually! When will we ever learn? For Pete’s sake!”
“Pete’s better than that – I think.”
“Funny how even the Brits get foreigners to do their buildings – Tate Modern and the V & A for instance. Are they learning from us?”
“It’s really just a matter of getting the best building possible in this international era: Pete won it – with Brit. It looks very interesting.”
“Yes, he’s a real Brit. But what is a school of architecture anyhow? I hope it doesn’t turn out to be a dud!”

Those first judges were vigilant. They wanted books that were popular and worthwhile, that told traditional stories and fulfilled the other key criterion of the day: acceptance overseas.
Nicholas Rothwell, Canon Fodder, June 9-10, 2012
. . . the perpetual Aussie desire to be 'world class.' And the solution?:
These books that well up from Australia rather than being imposed on it, books that cross categories, that listen, not dictate.
Nicholas Rothwell, Canon Fodder, June 9-10, 2012
. . . buildings that well up . . . not imposed . . . that cross categories . . . that listen, not dictate.

Related writing, see:
NOTE: For those interested in books, Niholas Rothwell lists the following 'grab-bag' as books that 'well up from Australia':
Eric Rolls, They All Ran Wild (1969); Dick Kimber, Man from Arltunga (1986); Murray Bail, Fairweather (1981, reissued 2009); and Deborah Bird Rose Dingo Makes Us Human, (1992). Good old books!

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