ART NATION is Australia’s premier weekly half-hour Arts program hosted by Fenella Kernebone. And for the next eight weeks Australian architecture is in the firing line.
Good, Bad or Ugly is a warts-and-all new segment presented by architects Stuart Harrison and Simon Knott. Opinionated and irreverent, Harrison and Knott will cast their critical eyes over some of Australia’s most contentious contemporary public buildings and spaces. Playfully aping the spaghetti western genre, the architects face these buildings and spaces in a final showdown to determine whether they are indeed… Good, Bad or Ugly.
Ep 1: DOCKLANDS, MELBOURNE – Sunday 15 May
When Harrison and Knott visit the Docklands in Melbourne they find several missed opportunities. “Perhaps in 30 years it might be good— or a slum,” says Knott. Both architects agree the orientation of the apartments is completely wrong. The dismantling of the giant Ferris wheel reminds Harrison of the “construction of the ‘Death Star’ in reverse – a bad idea, poorly executed and in the wrong place.”
Ep 2: FEDERATION SQUARE, MELBOURNE – Sunday 22 May
Both Harrison and Knott are suitably impressed with Melbourne’s Federation Square. Says Harrison: “I think many people think it’s ugly, but for me it’s all good.” Knott qualifies this however, stating that the Square’s lack of access to the Yarra River is considered by many, a big mistake. “The river is just there, but it’s blocked by a building. I’d blow that up if it was me!”
Ep 3: PADDINGTON RESERVOIR GARDENS, SYDNEY – Sunday 29 May
When the architects visit Sydney’s Paddington Gardens they find an intriguing and tranquil space, hidden from view and away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford St, Paddington. The sunken and ruin-like Paddington Reservoir Gardens was once an underground water reservoir but the make-over gets the thumbs up.
Ep 4: BRISBANE GIRLS GRAMMAR – Sunday 5 June
It’s back to school for architects Harrison and Knott. The students at Brisbane Girl’s Grammar School are lapping up the informal surroundings designed to encourage them to mingle. “Social interaction is just as important as a teacher standing in front of a class’’ says Harrison.
Other architectural venues covered in the series include Sydney Tower; Melbourne Rectangular Stadium; Queensland Cultural precinct including GOMA; National Library in Canberra; Brisbane’s Kuripla Bridge; and the Victorian Arts Centre and National Gallery of Victoria precinct, Melbourne.
ABOUT THE ARCHITECTS (Stuart Harrison and Simon Knott are available for interview)
Stuart Harrison and Simon Knott are Melbourne-based architects. In 2004 they started ‘The Architects’ on Melbourne 3RRR, which promotes lively discussion about the world of architecture and design. Knott is a director of BKK Architects. Harrison is director of Harrison and White Architects, lecturer in architecture at RMIT and a prolific writer on civic buildings and housing.