Thursday, May 23, 2013


When passing the Bond University today, 23rd May 2013, I realised I had my camera with me, and a few spare minutes. So I took the opportunity to do what I had wanted to do for some months - walk around the site of the new school of architecture. One needs to be informed if one is to comment on a building. The promotional images and the associated blurb had been published for some time, since 2010 when it was announced that Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham (CRAB Studio) had won the international competition to design Bond University’s Soheil Abedian School of Architecture. Construction has been underway for many months. Curved concrete walls and mushrooming roof projections had been pushing up into the skyline for weeks. When it was passed today, the roof and fascia were on and cherry pickers and scissor lifts were working on the higher exterior levels.

What is always of interest is to assess buildings in situ and compare them to the promotional images and original design material. The first images were reproduced in a satirical piece published on 6 June 2012 - see:

These illustrate the external view of the proposal from the southeast and the northeast, and the view along an interior corridor.    

The images have a romantic haze about them, with the southeast view revealing a copse of trees and distant bush. The northeast view depicts a glassy façade; while the interior looms as a maze of voids around massive skewed concrete walls.

And what do the photographs tell us? Well the trees are nearby, but so too are other buildings. A permanent large white shed stands boldly between the trees and the new building, while the ’mother’ school building stands as a mirror mass on the north. Neither of these existing structures has been clearly indicated to identify their significant presence in the original design drawings - see comments PART 2.

The great white shed dominates from the highest part of the university site.
The southern elevation still looks ‘sticky’ but the northern elevation has lost much of its glass. The high surveillance ‘bridge’ remains, but just what might go into this dominant but tiny space is a puzzle. One hopes that this element has not been the outcome of the 'proud, indulgent, unquestioning self-satisfaction of an addictive fascination' - see:
What looks like sunscreens are being added to the solid northern wall, but it is unclear if these will provide any protection from sun or rain. They look playfully sculptural, like the roof overhangs. Glimpses of the interior reveal sloping concrete blades. The west wall curves as a twin solid to frame an entrance.

The timber poles are more like pencils than pines and are probably just as useful.

Find: the downpipe; the structure; the plantation reference.

The large white shed holds the centre axis of pines and buildnig rather than mystic bushland.

The lookout? Is this the director's office? One hopes not.
Note how the school of sustainable development looms in the background.

A glimpse of the skewed blades.
 Memories of John Andrews' work: see photo notes PART 2
It was here on the walk around the project, almost on cue from the 'control box' above, that the bells started playing Waltzing Matilda (one thinks of Eric Bogle, but it was not a band). It was a most bizarre, 'mediaeval' expression for this bush tale.

'Mother' - the school of sustainable development.
Is it 'mother' and 'brother'?
The solid north wall.

The bridge?The necessity for real supports breaks the elegance of the cantilever.

Memories of the Byker Wall - and the constant 'unspoken' presence of 'Mother' 
Is the wall fending the neighbour off?
see photo notes PART 2

Has the concept to do with fragmentation and the juxtaposition of bits and pieces? 
Is it the fear of monument, or the desire for style? Both?
Is it a shattering that muddles - the ambiguity of commitment?

The 'balloon' roof projections look like 'Archigram bubbles' -
see photo notes PART 2

The gunner's position?If only the prop was temporary!
Something has to hold up the 'thought bubble'.
Shades shading shades.

The framing of form is always informative.Where does elegance start and stop?

To divide; to step; to align; to project - all together.

Shades of shades?


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