Day 3: Designing for the city or as a city?

There are some projects that require you to interrogate further your own values in order to divise your opinion. These projects are polarising, difficult, and are the ones that make an impression. The Walden 7 housing development by Ricardo Bofill was one of these projects, and with its monumental red-tiled facade, and sci-fi references, was our first visit for the day.

A speculative, low-cost housing development, Walden 7 was a utopian vision for a fringe community outside Barcelona. The 14 levels of the building contain 446 individual and unique apartments bound together by a labyrinthine plan – including 6 kilometres of external corridors.

To greet us is the enigmatic Alessandra, a resident at Walden 7 for over 25 years. She whisks us from the bright Barcelona light into the heart of the building to begin our journey to enlightenment. We make our accent, like pilgrims, winding up to the terrace on the roof. This journey is incredibly animated, as we are captivated at each turn. Breaks in the terracotta walls give views out over the surrounding landscape and bridges over the voids remind us of where we are. Moving from dark and narrow stairs, across projecting bridges and balconies, every step opens up new connections and vistas. We take lots of photos, and try to imagine the people living here.

Our next stop is just 100 metres down the road to a decommissioned cement factory where we find the office of Riccardo Bofill Architects. Walking through this industrial ruin overgrown with plants, gives the impression of wandering through a film set. It is a quiet and monastic space.

Back in the taxi we head to Santa Caterina Market, a building that has teased us with glimpses of its colourful roof as we have been wandering the city over the last few days. We met with Arturo and Gabriella from EMBT who talk us through the development of the project.

The roof is incredibly expressive and clad with bright colours. With an intent to reflect what is held within, a photo of fresh produce is abstracted to a pixilated pattern in 72 colours of local ceramic tiles that have been laid over a complex timber and steel roof frame. There is a bacalao washing station at the back of the market that I particularly take delight in; a modest celebration of a very specific and local tradition.

From here we follow them to the studio: a historical four-level building in the Gothic quarter full of models, drawings and character. Model making is integral to the practice, and myriad handmade physical models are used as the key design tool for every project before it enters the digital world. Being a believer of the physical model, I found this inspiring.

Pushing every minute to its maximum, we hurry to our next visit. Darting through the narrow streets we emerge in a square surrounded by the grey debris of construction. In the distance we see a striking woman with flowing watermelon pants, stacked sandals and silk. It is Carme Pinos.  With barely a greeting, she ushers us into the construction site for Gardunya Square. Radiant and engaging, but with no nonsense, she talks us through the project. She pulls out models twice her size, and takes plans from the walls to talk us through her approach.

We tour the building in construction and are impressed by her intimate knowledge of every detail, though it was worked on by a team of many.  She has a confident honesty and expressed delight in serendipitous outcomes that were not intended, as well as a frankness to less favoured moments. There is a rigour to the design process to ensure the outcome was not a singular expression of the architect, evident by little discussion about the view of the buildings, and more about how they engaged and enhanced with the fabric of the city.

The visits done for the day we head to a little bar near the office of EMBT. We revisit our discussion on Waldon 7, and try to frame the uncertainties in our minds through collective inquiry.  Uplifting or overbearing?  “Psychedelic purgatory” or sustenance for the eye and mind? There are wonderful moments, but this at the price of an over prescriptive system? There are no answers tonight but there is an energy in these discussion and a keen curiosity to keep the conversation going.

– Claire Scorpo

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Day 2: BiciBCN

A good interpreter does more than just translate, they provide the tools to begin to understand in another language. Spending the day cycling around Barcelona with architect, urbanist and cycle tour guide Jaume Carne, it was the language of the city that was revealed. We began in the crush of the old city, tangled streets catching the morning light on the canyon facades. Arriving into the Mercat del Born, a market hall turned cultural centre, delivered us into the 19th century with a parasol of cast iron and glass that firmly situated the building in the industrialised 19th century, while its feet lingered in the revealed excavations of the medieval city. Cycling through the nearby Parc de la Ciutadella, artefacts from the military history of the site sat alongside follies and curiosities of a 19th century pleasure garden, with an outrageous fountain featuring waterfalls, dragons and charging guilt stallions rumoured to have been designed with the help of the young Antonio Gaudi.

The story of this city will always find its way to the ocean and we next headed to the Olympic Village and waterfront promenade built for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In the lead up to the Olympic Games, Barcelona sought to shake off years of stagnation and re-imagine itself on the water. Beyond the highrise towers, Frank Gehry’s fish and the Olympic village, the real story of this period of the city’s history is the transformation of the waterfront that reconnected the city to the ocean. The train line and highway that cut off the city from the water were buried, industry relocated and kilometres of sand, promenade, parks and pathways installed in their place. There are kilometres of promenade now, and moving through the city on a bicycle creates a continuity of experience, allowing the narrative of a place to unfold seamlessly. Jaume was able to punctuate this experience, delineating an invisible line between the 1992 works, and the extension of the promenade which terminates at the Fòrum, developed in 2004 for the Barcelona Universal Forum of Cultures.

The Fòrum area is a strange part of the city, the regularity and density of the city dissolves in a loose collection of oversized structures and spaces: a monumental canopy, an artificial beach and a lumpy blue wedge of a building by Herzog & de Meuron. The area felt like a zoological exposition of exotic animals, the forms and scale, so unfamiliar as to be a curiosity in it’s own right, one couldn’t help but feel that the structures lacked the correct context to be legible in the city. Jaume explained that the whole site is built over the site of a functioning sewerage plant, which illuminated the context, but failed to make the spaces any less strange.

As we returned back into the heart of the city, we followed the Avinguda Diagonal, a monumental avenue that forms a fundamental axis of the Cerda plan, which marches through the heart of Barcelona with an aggressive geometry. Cast at 45 degrees to the 100m square grid of city blocks, The Avinguda Diagonal forces a geometric disruption with curious corner wedges, parks and plazas negotiating these orthogonal left-overs. And then we encounter Gaudi. The Sagrada Familia which occupies so much of the urban consciousness of Barcelona is characterised by our guide as a problem child for the city. We move quickly past this century old construction site turned tourist Mecca to safer ground with Casa Milà and Casa Batilló. Two grand villas that wobble against the regimented facades of these grand city blocks. A riot of loose lines that shout out to the outrageous steel contours of Miralles Tagliabue’s Parc Diagonal Mar we had seen earlier in the day.

Indeed, transecting the city on the ride home, allowed the language of the city to move from single motifs into fully formed complex narratives. We could see how the rhythm of Cerda blocks occupied the unbuilt space that had been preserved around the old city, defined by the geometry of the firing range of a cannon from the Parc de Ciutadella. How the winding tangle of the old city starts and stops so abruptly, terminated by city walls and ocean. The bicycles mimicked the pace and rhythm of these stories, the long straight transepts, the odd detour through a corner park and finally the slow dodging and weaving through the old city streets, crowded by people, tightly packed buildings and punctuated by the wobbles of cobbled streets.

– Imogene Tudor

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Day 1: Hola Barcelona!

What’s a word for that feeling when you finally arrive at the airport? Deadlines and tasks finished in a flurry, plants left unwatered, clothes in a shamble in your bag.  “As long as you’ve got your passport, you’re ok,” we were told. The moment had finally come, the point when you get to the airport and no more can be done. A collective exhale was shared as each person arrived in the departure lounge at Melbourne airport. We were here! Well almost. Fast forward 24 hours as we touched down at the Barcelona airport. Now, we were really here.

The sunshine felt like it was life giving. The colours of both the buildings and landscape whizzed past from the taxi… terracotta, oranges, browns. The warm colours and the warm sun made us feel pretty rosy, and with an unstructured half-day before us, we decided the best way to tackle the jetlag was to stay outside. First stop, the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe.

Arriving on the top of Montjuïc Hill, the incredible view of Barcelona opened up before us.  Excitement built as we pointed out buildings we recognised, some of which we will be visiting over the next few days.  As we descended the stairs down the grand hill, our bubbling chatter turned quiet as we approached the Pavilion almost as a procession.

Designed as the German National Pavilion for the Barcelona International Exhibition (Expo), I couldn’t believe it had been designed in 1929. It felt timeless. Despite it being made of glass, steel and beautiful slabs of marble, the building felt like a warm and rich space. It felt very peaceful. The water reflecting on the soffit animated the rigid structure, the deep red curtain moved in the breeze, and the echoes of chatter and laughter bounced through the building.

It was interesting to see how each of us absorbed the building. Concentrating on the plan, I walked between the thin blade walls, the roof felt like it was floating above me.  Things I had never properly understood from drawings, but instantly understood now having experienced in person.

Next stop, we headed towards the Plaça dels Angels square, weaving through the beautiful back streets of Barcelona’s old city.  Colour and life were everywhere as we walked. Clothes hung on balconies, people sat on steps in the street, small public squares cropped up around unexpected corners.

The square was even more full of life. We discussed the skateboarding mecca, and how the lack of rules encourages occupation. The public space is not adorned with architectural seating or a feature public toilet to attract the crowds, it is the people that occupy the space that bring the life.  Adjacent to the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art by Richard Meier, the square has a simple ramp, and a wall for people to sit on; it is a public space open to all, no prejudice. This was reflected in the diversity of people hanging around.  Sitting in the sun, excitement had turned to relaxation, we happily took a seat alongside the crowd with a beer in hand. Day one, what a start!

– Louisa Gee

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2017 Dulux Study Tour winners announced!

“We are delighted to announce that Louisa Gee, Morgan Jenkins, Alberto Quizon, Claire Scorpo and Imogene Tudor will be participating in the 2017 Dulux Study Tour. Congratulations to all five for being selected from an enormously talented field of young leaders. The jury had the demanding task of selecting these five from an outstanding shortlisted field of 72 young architects, and were deeply impressed with the talent and achievements of all applicants. In making our critical judgment we have considered activities and achievements across the criteria of individual contribution to architectural practice, education, design excellence and community involvement. We also took into account the value exposure to international projects and practices will bring to the participants, and the diversity and balance of interests and experience within the selected cohort. Given the standard of applicants, the jury encourages those not selected and still eligible to submit again next year. Thanks are due to Dulux for their generous support, and my fellow Jurors Cameron Bruhn, Jennifer Cunich, Marissa Lindquist, and Ksenia Totoeva and Phil White for giving their insights and wisdom freely to the selection process. We have all been inspired by the understanding that our future as a profession is in such good hands.”

– Ken Maher, Jury Chair

Louisa Gee | Partners Hill  (QLD)

Photo credit: Sam Charles-Ginn

Louisa Gee graduated as Valedictorian from the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Master of Architecture Degree in 2009, and is a registered architect in Queensland. Her passion for developing the education of others is supported by her significant involvement in teaching both undergraduate and master’s programs at UQ. Gee’s contribution to architecture has also been recognised through the National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards for Wolston House Tea Terrace (2010), while at the Architectural Practice Academy. Her exceptional contribution as Co-Chair of EmAGN Qld programs are notable and many, and her interest in enhancing the architectural profession undoubtedly grew from her early involvement in broader community programs centred around volunteer builds, such as Gloucester Guesthouse (2004), Burst *003 (2005), Solomon Islands Post Tsunami aid work (2009) and ongoing involvement in Whiptail – a straw bale guesthouse. The learning and energy that Louisa has gained from these achievements is evidently folded back into her own practice, Louisa Gee Architects, her position at Partners Hill and her ongoing teaching engagements at UQ. Her genuine concern for ‘learning by doing’ is also manifest in her studio practice development and community engagement. The jury believes Gee will undoubtedly further develop this learning and her ongoing contribution to the profession through participating in the Dulux Study Tour.

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Partners Hill website

Morgan Jenkins | Morgan Jenkins Architecture (QLD)

Morgan Jenkins is a sole practitioner based in Brisbane, Queensland. His eponymous practice, Morgan Jenkins Architecture, is a small-scale firm specialising in residential, commercial and retail projects. The practice’s award-winning built works deftly explore the connections between occupant, materiality, construction and place and are realised in collaboration with Nielsen Workshop. Together they have designed and built boutique residential and commercial projects including the Taringa Pavilion, an elemental platform for living that responds to the seasonal occupation of the suburban site, and the North Lakes Office fitout which was recognised with multiple awards at the 2016 Australian Interior Design Awards, including the award for Sustainability Advancement. Alongside his emerging architecture and building practice, Morgan is the creative director of Vulture Street Industries, a small events company that initiated The End of the Line Festival in 2014. More than 15,000 people attended this free, annual street party in the Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba in 2016. The festival program includes music stages, market stalls, food trucks, projection art and children’s activities. The jury believes as a hands-on, humble and dedicated architect who is passionately engaged with the craft of the profession and public activation, Morgan’s participation in the Dulux Study Tour will increase his contribution to the profession and the community.

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Morgan Jenkins Architecture website

Alberto Quizon | CHROFI (NSW)

Alberto Quizon completed his Master of Architecture from the University of Technology, Sydney in 2010. Currently an associate with CHROFI, he is also a passionate design teacher with the University of Technology in Sydney and in 2016 led CHROFI’s Master of Architecture design studio exploring possibilities of proactive architectural interventions on the built environment. Since joining CHROFI in 2011, he has become a key member of the practice and has made significant contributions to bespoke small-scale public projects, a public sculpture at Barangaroo and been a key participant in many of the practice’s competition wins including Stamford on Macquarie, The Goods Line and Ian Potter National Conservatory. In parallel to his project contributions, Alberto plays a critical role in the practice’s marketing and communications output, designing and managing the website and its content as well as the content of various social media platforms. Alberto is a gifted individual with exceptional design talent and a critical mind. He is a thinker who has a deep perception of how architecture can change the world and, as an emerging voice in our architectural community, the jury considers Alberto will benefit greatly from the inspirations and experiences that the Dulux Study Tour offers, and in turn contribute this value back to the profession and students.

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CHROFI website

Claire Scorpo | Claire Scorpo Architects (VIC)

Photo credit: Albert Comper

Claire Scorpo graduated from RMIT in 2013 with a Masters of Architecture with Distinction, and a Bachelors of Architectural Design. She is a director of Claire Scorpo Architects, having started her career as a student architect at Edmond and Corrigan, and NMBW Architecture Studio. Her approach to design is grounded in the belief that landscape shapes the way we plan our living spaces. Claire is passionate about challenging notions of what can be achieved on modest budgets and finding generosity within tight urban sites. She believes quality architecture needs to once again be an accessible product. Claire’s commitment to education is evident through her commitment to teaching as an integral part of architectural practice. She has been leading design studios at RMIT since 2011, where her initial studios focused on volume housing. Winning multiple awards, including in the 2016 Houses Awards and the 2015 Architeam Award Winner, the jury believes that Claire will gain significantly from participating in the Dulux Study Tour and be influential in the future of the architectural profession.

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Claire Scorpo Architects website

Imogene Tudor | Sam Crawford Architects (NSW)     


Imogene Tudor is a born leader. Her experience and enthusiasm is evidenced by her many professional pursuits; she works across practice, teaching, community and journalism. A registered architect in NSW, Imogene graduated from the University of NSW in 2006 with First Class Honours. She went on to work at BVN, Staughton Thorne and DRAW.  A recent career highlight included leading the team of architects working with Oscar winner Catherine Martin of BAZMARK on the refurbishment of an Art Deco hotel in Miami. Imogene is currently Senior Architect with Sam Crawford Architects and leads their public projects. Imogene complements her architectural practice with an active role in academia and architectural media. Over the last seven years, she has taught at UTS, the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne in design, communication, professional practice and digital fabrication. Her writing and photography have been widely published in Australian architectural media. As an advocate for architectural discourse in Sydney, Imogene co-founded Make Space for Architecture – a not-for-profit association focused on public forums, workshops and exhibitions. The jury is confident that Imogene’s inclusion in the 2017 Dulux Study Tour will benefit not only her personally but the profession as a whole, as she continues to teach, write, talk and design thoughtful buildings and public spaces.

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Sam Crawford Architects website


Ken Maher (Chair) | National President, Australian Institute of Architects
Jennifer Cunich | Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Architects
Ksenia Totoeva | President, EmAGN
Marissa Lindquist | Dulux Study Tour Alumni
Phil White| Dulux
Cameron Bruhn | Architecture Media

The Dulux Study Tour is a collaborative initiative between Dulux Australia, the Australian Institute of Architects and EmAGN (The Emerging Architects and Graduate Network). It is proudly supported by


2017 Dulux Study Tour Shortlist

And the 2017 Dulux Study Tour shortlist is…

  • Jeremy Anderson (Peter Winkler Architect / self-employed)
  • Elliott Baxter (Bruce Allen Architect Pty Ltd)
  • Jesse Bennett (Jesse Bennett Studio)
  • Kim Bridgland (Edition Office Pty Ltd)
  • Walter Brindle (JPW)
  • Timothy Brooks (ARM Architecture)
  • Ryan Brown (Kerry Hill Architects)
  • Phil Burns (Matt Gibson Architecture + Design)
  • Edmund Carter (Hinge Architects)
  • Simon Cookes (DB Architecture)
  • Troy Donovan (Grimshaw Architects)
  • Vlad Doudakliev (Fieldwork)
  • John Doyle (RMIT University / Martires Doyle)
  • Arash Engineer (Collins and Turner Architects)
  • Leah Gallagher (Kieron Gait Architects)
  • Emma Gauder (Architects EAT)
  • Louisa Gee (Partners Hill)
  • Matt Ross Goodman (Matt Goodman Architecture Office (MGAO))
  • Christopher Haddad (Archier)
  • Georgina Hoad (Beca)
  • Jarrod Hughes (Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects)
  • Lucy Humphrey (self-employed)
  • Morgan Jenkins (Morgan Jenkins Architecture)
  • Michelle Kar (Post- Architecture)
  • Talia Keyes (Scentre Group)
  • Luca Lana (lanarepublic)
  • Phuong Le (MPA)
  • Sarah Lebner (Light House Architecture and Science)
  • Yuri Leong Maish (May + Russell Architects)
  • Fiona Lew (Lyons)
  • Jason Licht (Cumulus Architects)
  • Kevin Liu (David Boyle Architect)
  • Joseph Loh (SJB Architects)
  • Patrick Macasaet (self-employed)
  • Adam Markowitz (self-employed)
  • Kali Marnane (The University of Queensland)
  • Rory Martin (dwp|suters)
  • Carly Martin (Casey Brown Architecture)
  • Linda Matthews (Carterwilliamson Architects)
  • Thomas Mckenzie (Thomas Winwood Architecture)
  • Carly McMahon (Liminal Architecture + Spaces)
  • Jennifer McMaster (TRIAS)
  • Yvonne Meng (Von Atelier)
  • Chloe Naughton (m3architecture)
  • David Neustein (Other Architects)
  • Alex Nielsen (Circa Morris Nunn Architects)
  • Lachlan Nielsen (Nielsen Workshop)
  • Joseph O’Meara (BVN)
  • Belinda Pajkovic (GelliKovic Architects)
  • Joseph Pappalardo (Baber Studio)
  • Gabrielle Pelletier (Anderson Architecture)
  • Wesley Perrott (self-employed)
  • Viet Pham (Pham Tuan Viet Architects)
  • Alberto Quizon (CHROFI)
  • Chloe Rayfield (Tanner Kibble Denton Architects)
  • Ben Robertson (Tecture)
  • Tahj Rosmarin (Parvenu Architectural)
  • Jessica Ryall (Architecture Republic)
  • Christopher Schofield (Studio Schofield)
  • Claire Scorpo (Claire Scorpo Architects)
  • Alix Smith (HASSELL)
  • Michael Smith (Atelier Red+Black)
  • Tahnee Sullivan (Richards & Spence)
  • Christina Sunario (MacCormick and Associates Architects)
  • Vesna Trobec (STUDIO TROBEC)
  • Imogene Tudor (Sam Crawford Architects)
  • Eduardo Velasquez (Grimshaw Architects – Neil Stonell)
  • Rebekah Verrier (Preston Lane Architects)
  • Andrew Volkman (Donovan Payne)
  • Dominic Warland (EJE Architecture)
  • Keith Westbrook (Cumulus Studio)
  • Dean Williams (Welsh + Major Architects)
  • Alexandra Wilson (Andrew Burges Architects)
  • Beth Xotta-Dickson (XOTTA Architects)
  • Dirk Yates (m3architecture)

Congratulations to all those who entered – the entries were all of a particularly high standard, making the 2017 jury’s job very difficult!

Now on to Stage Two…

Now Closed – Entries for the 2017 Dulux Study Tour

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the 2017 Dulux Study Tour is your opportunity to be part of an exciting and coveted program that inspires and fosters Australia’s next generation of emerging architectural talent. Winners will embark on an exciting architectural tour of Prague, London and Barcelona where they can experience firsthand some of the best architectural sites and practices.

The entry process is now closed.

Entry into the 2017 Dulux Study Tour is a two stage process:

Stage 1
To enter, entrants are required to submit their answers to four nominated questions, their contact details and details of their employer via the online entry system.

Stage 1 submissions closed at AEST 11.59pm Thursday 15 September 2016.

Late submissions will not be accepted. Entrants’ answers to the nominated questions will be judged, and shortlisted entrants will be notified to enter into Stage 2.

Stage 2
Shortlisted entrants must upload via the online entry system an A4 document that includes: one written employer reference, resume (maximum two pages), portfolio of works (maximum of four pages). Submissions for stage 2 will be open from Thursday 13 October 2016 when shortlisted entries will be notified of the outcome. The closing date for Round 2 is 11.59pm AEDT Friday 4 November 2016.

2017 Dulux Study Tour Terms and Conditions


The final day of the tour has crept up on us, mixed feelings gather as we enjoy our last luxe breakfast together – making sure we have enough fuel to make the most of another hectic day.

Today we have visited the studio of AGI Arquitectos, Amid/Cero9’s project the Giner de los Rios Foundation, the studio of Langarita Navarro and their project the Prado Medialab, Andres Jaques’ Excavarox at the Matadero and finally the house and studio of Selgas Cano.


Finding time between visits we reflect on our tour highlights, ‘What was your favourite building?’  A simple question that must be answered instinctively, based on feeling and not too much thought – kind of like the way you’re meant to answer the Myers-Briggs personality test.


What was your favourite building?

Hannah: Bagsvaerd Church by Jorn Utzon

Katy: Brunswick Centre by Patrick Hodgkinson

Chris: Barajas Madrid Airport by Rogers Stirk & Harbour

Mathew: Leadenhall building by Rogers Stirk & Harbour

Qianyi: Silicon House by Selgas Cano

These buildings can tell you a lot about our personalities… calm and collected Bagsvaerd church, social and genuine Brunswick centre, formidable and inventive Leadenhall, warm and welcoming Madrid Barajas airport, colourful and playful Silicon house.

We arrive at Selgas Cano’s at the end of the day. It is located about 30 minutes on the motorway from the centre of Madrid, in a private and wooded suburban area. I feel like we’ve entered into an oasis where the natural landscape has buried the built architectural structures of the studio and Silicon House. The rectangular, half sunken form is part bunker part terrarium – designed so that the studio of SelgasCano could work under the trees, one feels at peace here and ready to dream.


We are all taken by the playful nature of the Silicon House, graded pathways, transparent layers, traversable roofscapes and coloured planes feed our curiosity to explore every surface of the relatively small footprint of the house. Being a home designed by architects for themselves, the architecture appears as an improvisation, an experiment for the ongoing practices ideas. Jose Selgas is relaxed in our conversation, coy in not revealing too much. Some of us are frustrated and press on to understand the logic in how this wonderland was conceived. But there lies a clue in the trees, the ultimate driver for the irregular form of the building. Priority is given to the sites existing natural features, the architecture just fills the spaces in between.


  • Qianyi Lim

DAY 10: Massive Change & Model Fatigue

Madrid Rio symbolises massive change, the 156 hectare landscape urbanism project is perhaps the most important, disruptive and most changeful the city has experienced in the past ten years.

Burgos & Garrido, West 8, La Casta Arquitectos and Rubio & Álvarez-Sala won the project through competition in 2005, the ambitious plan launched by Madrid’s mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. Their submission proposed a solution to the urban problem through a macro social and ecological vision resolved exclusively by means of landscape architecture and urbanism.


Symbolic of what can be achieved by an empowered politician, exclusive access to municipal funds, the 4.4 billion euro project was 80% funded by the Madrid municipality and built entirely on council land, unencumbered by protracted land negotiations. Conceived and built over two four year political terms, the project opened in 2013 and was completed 2015, a clear lesson for myopic Australian governance.


Massive change has brought massive reward, the project has renewed a vast six kilometre tranche of inner city land with a linear park, promenade, bicycle paths, water gardens, playgrounds, small cultural interventions and a renewed relationship between the city and river.

The quality of the landscape is extraordinary, rosemary as mass planting scents the park with a subtle honey combined with crisp pine from the 9,000 pine trees planted in the reserve. The Stone Pines have an ancient character beyond the few short years the park has been open, their irregularities are intentional, the crooked awkward forms were chosen for their agelessness over perfectly straight specimens.


“Models are a part of the way we work.” This line is delivered singularly, emphatically and earnestly to the group at each practice visit in Copenhagen, London and Madrid. It seems that everyone makes models, big models, small models, abstract models and prototypes.

Sketches and diagrams don’t appear any more, whatever happened to drawing? The single authored napkin sketch, the hand of God, isn’t enough. It probably never was, perhaps in their own way these models lend an authority and reality to a project yet to be realised, cemented in reality within an economic climate where nothing is certain.


Model making is certainly centred around the identity of what it is to be a credible architect. Miniature dreams, instantaneously realised and transported into the future, authorised by the maquette. It’s a fetish peculiar to Architects, the object rendered in various scales, competition models are wheeled out for inspection like cadavers on display. Their little bodies piled high in dark corners of the studios, evidence of opportunity that can launch a young practice and conversely the burden of time invested in a rat race competitive process. Madrid Rio was won by competition and has propelled the authors into a specialist realm of large scale landscape architecture and urbanism.


In retrospect, after a nine days of intense saturation, descriptions of process across the days of practice visits seem homogeneous, conventional and almost universal. Descriptions of process to the group seem to revolve around models and in some cases seem like a deferral from what the practices actually do day to day.


Challenging convention are practices like Jan Gehl, an architect who doesn’t build anything, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Foster + Partners pushing the boundary of technology, similarly Assemble in their own way. These are practices on the edge asitwere, and in different ways challenge architecture practice models however they are in the end tangibly conventional.

The prolific success of Foster + Partners is intriguing, a practice which is conventional in so many ways. Nevertheless a practice on the edge of technology and able to resource it’s own internal laboratory and foundation in Madrid. Fosters are re-imagining and broadening the scope of their service model, a leap made through technology.

Within the attic of the foundation is Foster Lab, the projective vision of the future it seems is still making models. These are didactic, demonstrative and posses an uncanny authority as descriptions of alien systems and improbable ideas. Perhaps models are the future paradigm?

In the end, models are an aside, they are simply representations of ideas and occasionally the embodiment of practices identities. The medium isn’t necessarily the problem, it could be the message. What resonates at F+P and RSH+P is an agenda, these are models which are the embodiment of a manifesto. Formed within practices bent on influencing and changing the construction industry through technology at rapid pace, shifting the pendulum back to the architect as being contributory to the construction industry.

Is this important? It’s pertinent in light of the national AIA conference “How Soon is Now”, where a part of the conversation was dominated by the hand wringing and pearl clutching of a conflicted industry, grappling with its own relevance. These practices are moving forward in familiar and conventional ways by becoming once again the architect as a specialist in architecture as so many have embraced diversification. While this is by no means an answer in total, it’s reassuring someone is looking inward to be projective.

Mathew van Kooy

Day 9: Madrid

The morning begins with everyone taking a Myers Briggs test…never a good start to a Sunday morning. Most people are not surprised by the results but are surprised by the accuracy of the description and continue to let this new found self discovery eat away at them all day. But as our good friend Werner would say ‘you will understand more about this later.’


Werner, our Swiss Germanic Spanish architecture tour guide for the day. Some have described him as a combination of Robert de Niro and Richard Gere with a stroke worthy chest. His love for the city was intertwined with jovial sarcastic comments about the façade driven, and eclectic nature that is, Madrid architecture. He was prepared, but none of us were prepared for the journey he had in store.

He knew his audience well, I think the architectural mouths started frothing when the A1 cardboard map unfolded and the fat black marker proceeded to draw the topographical situation over the city map.

The mapping begins

The jovial attitude towards the creation of the Spanish capital began early and we very quickly got a sense of the city that didn’t take itself too seriously. After Copenhagen and London it was a welcome relief!


An interesting day for a cycle ride – Barcelona vs. Seville in town that night, Bruce Springsteen the night before. Cycling in Australia you get used to maneuvering around cars, buses, opening delivery van doors and sometimes people. Weaving through the streets and squares of Madrid with throngs of football supporters was another story. Werner did his best to speak over the chanting and music, but I was personally relieved to get a bit of space! With the help of his trusty A1 map sticking out the top of his backpack we managed to navigate our way through the footpath planned city.


While we are here to see architecture, I feel this is not what was important about today. Today was about the architectural and urban story telling that Werner wooed us with – and not just the females. (I will included a list of our schedule below for those who are interested in buildings rather than the finely crafted performance of Werner.)

Through his mapping and inside knowledge Werner painted (drew) a picture of Madrid that we could not have found otherwise. His diagrammatic sketching of the urban sprawl like nature of Madrid over the last 900s years was captivating and not at all obvious to the untrained eye. He pointed out the numerous facades pretending to be buildings and the eclectic roof line made from buildings over a 100 year period.


After a plethora of historically, culturally and architecturally significant buildings Werner ends with a beauty.  He had built the day to a perfect crescendo – this wasn’t his first rodeo. The Residential Girasol by Jose Antonio Coderch was appreciated by all. We were surprised to hear that Jose studied under Alvar Aalto in Barcelona, but once we saw the work it became obvious.

Looking up at Residential Girasol

The map is completed and Werner has given us a strong framework to view the city through for the next two days. After almost 9hours of cycling and a mild asthma attack from one member while cycling uphill we end the night with some surprise mocktails (although some opted for the cock option) in the hotel lobby. We slowly let the day flow over us and the building group tensions begin to unfold in moments of instead personal reflection – damn you Myer Briggs!


Despite the erratic development and ‘the crisis’ that everyone refers to in Madrid, Werner puts the success of the city down to the fact that this is not just a city that people come to work or play, this is a city that people come to live! While London is having a continuous flow of money pushed into the development of high rises shaped by the contentious view corridors, people seem in too much of hurry to get to work to really experience what a city of 12million has to offer. Madrid on the other hand has a long history of working within their means, building facades physically and metaphorically. But people continue to flood the streets and public spaces with activity – a Jan Gehl dream as Chris would say. And while money can buy you a lot of things it can’t buy you happiness…or a city that people want to live in.


If you don’t see me back in Australia for a while you’ll know where to find me.


You can find Werner at:


I: madrides_ga

Please consider him on your next visit to Madrid.

Katy Moir


Day 8: In transit

With our eight day of the tour penciled in as a travel/recovery day, I initially thought the the blog would be a quick one-liner. However, what follows is a brief reflection on leaving London and arriving in Madrid.

We arrive at London Gatwick airport early in the morning to an array of nondescript stainless steel cargo lifts. After checking in we wind through an extended duty-free shopping zone that stocks the typical international chocolate and perfume brands. A crowded atrium divides the food hall from the concourse, which is intersected by two or three gate arteries. We move through the space shifting from digital screen to digital screen. Halfway down the terminal we realise that the windows are, in fact, not windows at all. They are backlit photos of docked aircraft. I board the plane slightly disoriented and regretting that I turned up the 15£ deal on a box set of oversized Toblerone.

The plane sways a little as it hits the ground and I breathe out as it starts to correct and slow to a crawl. Still a little disoriented I exit the aerobridge expecting the low ceilings of Gatwick and instead find myself within a huge volume immersed in natural light. The long views both within and out of the airport allow me to immediately orientate myself. The high, curved and timber-lined ceiling pulls my shoulders back and straightens my posture. This space returns dignity to the traveller. It invites you to stroll rather than walk, it allows you to stop and breathe rather than search and navigate. The building is calm and regular, but light and fun. It uses a colour gradient as a navigation tool and regular structural modules to divide program.


This is my church, this is my home. Hats of to Richard Rogers Partnership, a truly phenomenal piece of work.


Chris Gilbert, Archier.