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I have a dream house. A simple one actually designed by Glen Murcutt overlooking a north facing beach on Jervis Bay. It wont happen, but I still love to look at and in houses, reminisce about what might have been if I’d had more money but nowadays am happy to be among the stuff I’ve gathered, in the garden I love, holidaying at that beach or tripping off to far flung places to make me very satisfied with what we have and how we live in our city.
I’ve watched it grow, not always liking the developments and destruction, but when I look back at the pictures of yesteryear and realise it has become a fine little city, I realise why I love it as home.
The current exhibition at the National Archives of Australia, Iconic Australian Houses, is a survey of 30 of the most important Australian homes from the last 60 years, designed by significant architects and still today fine examples of the simplicity of good design that epitomises what we now call lifestyle. The exhibition features excellent photography, 3D models, illustrations and interviews with the architects and clients, curated by Karen McCartney as a travelling exhibition from the Sydney Living Museums.
Opened by Tim Ross, most recently the host of a two part series, Streets of Your Town, with a witty speech and genuine affection for this city it was attended by local architectural luminary Enrico Taglietti. His 60’s Dingle House in Hughes is featured in the exhibition and at a sprightly 90 years young looking back at that design makes you wonder how we let the overwhelming McMansions become the new order on smaller suburban blocks when what lured Taglietti to Canberra was “the silence, natural light and the blank slate” and how well he designed with the environment. And that’s what stands out with these designs as architects worked to include the outdoors as integral to the way they placed their designs .
As we renovate, refurbish, expand and create, maybe a look at these icons of design we will realise some of the current folly of extravagance as opposed to liveability.
The exhibition continues at the National Archives of Australia until 13 March 2017