Friday, September 14, 2007

Architectural preoccupations with site

Wandering around Launceston before giving my broadband talk I came across the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery built on an old railway workshops. The art in the gallery was not very interesting, but the railway museum and adjacent UTas Academy of The Arts
had a lecture by architect Helen Norrie on what to do with public outdoor art entitled "Architectural preoccupations with site".

Helen talked about the Hobart Rivulet and its effect on the design of Hobart (there was a recent competition for the waterfront design). She pointed out that while most of the ruvilet is now covered over, it is still reflected in the location of arcades such as the Cat & Fiddle Arcade and some remaining open space.

Helen then moved on to the silhouettes of Edinburgh, the Maya Ying Lin designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, the Jewish Museum Berlin by Daniel Libeskind and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, by Peter Eisenman. In retrospect this was not a cheery collection of art works for a talk, especially two days after the 911 anniversary.

The Jewish Museum is in the shape of an abstraction of the Star of David, whereas the Holocaust Memorial by Eisenman is thousands of rectangular concrete blocks near Tiergarten in Berlin. These are part architecture and part sculpture. Helen was not impressed with the Potsdamer Platz, which seems to be a monument to corporate egos, rather than anything human. The subway entrance is five times larger than it needs to be.

Iannis Xenakis designed the Phillips Pavilion for the 1958 expo (sometimes attributed to le Corbsier). The building is conceived to be walked through with a specially composed piece of music "

Helen provided a tour of the adjacent architecture school and I suggested they could design high technology broadband equipped modular classrooms, as mentioned at the end of my talk in Hobart.

ps: I don't seem to be able to go anywhere without coming across a railway workshop converted into an art center. The last one was the Carriage works Sydney ;-)

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