Thursday, September 16, 2010

Face on Building

At the end of Swanston Street in Melbourne lies the old Carlton and United Brewery site. It is huge, and has been a bit of a bombsite for as long as I can remember.

This week the developer released images of the building it is proposed to be built there.   It is designed by Melbourne architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall.  

The face is that of William Barak, an Aboriginal elder who lived between 1824 and 1903. He was the last traditional elder of the Wurundjeri people, whose land was where the city of Melbourne now sits.  He was an accomplished bark artist, and a respected, articulator for Aborginal interests in the 19th century.

The face is only visible from a distance.   It is certainly original although I haven't seen any commentator yet point out that the concept is identical to an idea ARM had for a residential building in Darling Harbour in Sydney, which would have had an image of the Max Dupain photo 'Bondi' on it.  This was never built.

How does the face work?  ARM's website describes the process for the Dupain building as follows:

To build this image the famous original photograph was scanned and processed into black and white strips using a sophisticated computer generated technique. Each strip became curved and rippled like ribbons or driftwood. Together these strangely evocative balustrade forms create the vivid optical illusion of the original picture, which becomes clearer as distance increases, to emerge as if from a mirage.

ARM are truly original. I wish they did more residential work, like these fabulous pointy angular beachouses:

They tend to stick more to urban design and iconic buildings, like this:

(new visitor centre at the Shrine of Remembrance)

 (RMIT Storey Hall. I especially like the pink tram in this image)

Do you think it would be slightly odd to live in a building with a face on it , or would you not notice after a while?

(All Images from ARM)


brismod said...

Very original! I'd love to live in a building with a face on it! I wonder if they could manipulate the balustrade forms so the face could smile. It also reminds me of the trees/Ents in Lord of the

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Jane
I think the face is fabulous in the city environment.. breaks up the monotony of everyday.... plus the symbolic value also ...

Like that house in the trees ... Have a great day xxx Julie

natasha said...

That is a very cool and clever idea! Those first two houses are really unusual - the angles make them look kind of precarious, too.


Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Oh Jane,
I really hope that they build it like that. What a wonderful tribute to William Barak, his talents and his culture..... and a great addition to the environment. I will keep my fingers crossed that they follow through with the concept. XXXX

Lissa Pierce said...

I think it's a cool idea. I also like that you can only see it from far I don't think you would get tired of it.

Laura said...

I think it's fabulous! I think that once inside the building I would completely forget the face, but perhaps would find joy when glancing at my home from afar and the image presented itself.

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