Celebrate “sticks-on-sticks” architecture

Celebrate “sticks-on-sticks” architecture

Due to the dire state of architectural standards of CBD commercial buildings, Melburnians need to shift gear, and instead of trying to find any buildings with any design standards, we should look for excellence in what Australian architects can do best … be derivative followers of fashion. 

But gone are days when an architect could win an award by ticking the three compulsory boxes of at least one curved corner, some feature timber, and some vertical plants.

I propose a new award for CBD architects of the “stick-on sticks” school of design.  

This school’s philosophy is not to waste valuable time on creativity or design excellence, but instead, go straight to the client’s core objective of saving money. 

Architects know the answer is an uninspiring glass box (it’s worked for decades). But the creative young things now have an inspired extra creative element the box of tricks … the “box of sticks”.

The technique is to take the boring glass box and glue sticks onto the facades. 

At first this school of design was hesitant to apply sticks with gusto. In fact, early examples were just coloured lines stuck on facades (check out the creative yellow stripes on the tower opposite Spencer St Outlet) I am reliably told this was a result of the architect’s preschool child taking to the drawings with a crayon when he took them home to work on them.

But now all restraint has gone, and architects confidently smother facades with “stick-on sticks”. Bravo. 

One positive side of this design school is the inclusivity. Architects now include their children in the process. 

Just take home a model of the glass box, together with a box of sticks, some glue, and away they go. Fun for all. 

Even Fender Katsalidis has seen the light, and thrown some sticks on the uninspiring box (which looks like a fishnet stocking has been pulled over the glass extrusion) opposite the Republic Tower at Queen/La Trobe (Republic is an old Katsalidis building, pre-sticks, which can now be refurbed with some left-over sticks from the building opposite. 

The new police headquarters on Spencer St is one of the most beautiful examples of “stick-on sticks”, and will no doubt win many awards, and certainly gets my vote.

So, I propose a new award for the architects’ institute prizes to recognise these trojans of creativity … a prize for the maximum number of sticks on a building called “GUSTO WITH STICKS”. 

Stick manufacturers will clamour to sponsor this prize. 

This will be a world beater in architecture, and will cement the reputation of Australian architects they deserve on the world stage. 

Look out Santiago Calatrava and Renzo Piano. 

I believe this “design school” will soon expand to houses. 

Owners can even do it themselves. 

I predict Bunnings will have a DIY “box of sticks” for home owners before long.  

With Australia’s sophisticated sense of aesthetics and design (including architects) we are on a winner. 

I would love to hear from readers with more great examples of “stick-on sticks” buildings for the people’s award. 

Daryl Mead

Waterways team to the rescue

Waterways team to the rescue

November 29th, 2023 - Docklands News
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