Sometimes you find buildings that are the seeds for the dominant building type that would come to define a particular area, perhaps even a particular era. This fellow is one such. Whether the causal links are there or not (i.e. whether or not it was an influence on other buildings) interests me less than the idea of this building existing as a fine example or paradigm that sits in relation to a wide range of other examples and makes sense of them stylistically. It enables you to tell what other people where trying to do.
Its an inconspicuous two story, minimalist terrace on George Street in Redfern, designed by Ian Moore and Tina Engelen. It’s described as an “outstanding minimalist house” in Bill MacMahon’s The Architecture of East Australia (89).
As you look around (up in particular) the new building developments that characterise the Waterloo and Zetland area you can see this style everywhere. Often with needless additions, such as coloured feature walls (once limited to interiors, feature walls now turn up on the sides on entire buildings), lazer cut cladding (the exemplary new featurist feature) or jutting extensions of cheaply put together brick or cement.
Not far away is Strickland House, which is a paradigm for the area in terms of format, representing the shift from residential terraces to apartment living. The German philosopher of design, Peter Sloterdijk, names the apartment as the key building type of the contemporary human being, allowing for disconnected connectivity or coisolated living: “The stacking of cells in an apartment block, for instance, no longer generates the classical world/house entity but an architectural foam, a multi-chambered system made up of relatively stabilized personal worlds” (2009).
The apartment format, combined the minimalist style, combined again with cheap, colourful flourishes, gives you the prototypical, new building of this area. Perhaps these flourishes are no different to the flourishes of pebble dash or stucco of arts and crafts dwellings, which I tend to react to in a more favourable fashion.