Designing: When architects become their city

04 Feb

For a select few architects, their work somehow becomes indistinguishable from the city itself. While they may practice in many cities, their work always conveys a particular setting. Think of Norman Foster in London (so very nouveau British), Richard Neutra in Los Angeles (total LA cool), Denton Corker Marshall in Melbourne (all those sticks!).

In Sydney, we have many beautiful and iconic works by leading architects such as Jorn Utzon, BKH, Allen Jack+Cottier and Alex Popov. But there are only two architects that, to me, truly represent this city’s character – Harry Seidler and Engelen Moore.

Harry Seidler pioneered the Bauhaus movement in Sydney and, in fact, Australia, with his unapologetically modernist Blues Point Tower (1961), Australia Square (1967) and MLC Centre (1975). In his recent, Horizon (1998) and Cove (1999) apartment buildings, Seidler continued to demonstrate this ethos. Seidler died in 2006 but he has made an indelible mark on this city.

Engelen Moore were founded in 1995 with the partnership of Tina Engelen and Ian Moore. They disbanded just over 10 years later, but their apartment buildings such as Altair, Barcom Avenue, 150 Liverpool Street and The Grid – which are all located within a few blocks of each other – convey the essence of Sydney like no other. Variously described as ‘functionalist’, ‘international’ and ‘minimalist’, their work focuses on light, air and environment, just like Sydney itself. Ross Honeysett’s photography beautifully illustrates this concept.

As both Seidler and Engelen Moore are no longer practicing, the question arises: who will take their place? Who will become the next architect to convey what Sydney in the 21st century is all about?

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Posted by on February 4, 2009 in architecture, designing


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