Sydneysider: An optimistic Life in Architecture

(Watermark Press 2006) 

A 217 page memoir about Don Gazzard's life and work.  Read a review by Phillip Goad, Professor of Architecture at the University of Melbourne.

MAGARI is a great Italian word that means 'If only!  It's usually said with an expressive shrug of the shoulders, so shrug and  click here to read an optimistic magari story.

First politics and money… then design.    
The Victorian government recently set an example by borrowing to implement much needed public transport improvements.  They should face up to doing the same thing with low-income rental housing for the Millennial generation. 
Read more.

A little bit of local history.
It's almost 50 years since the English Queen opened the Sydney Opera House and it's time for a good historian to dispassionately re-evaluate how the brief ran off the rails, and the unpopular role played by Peter Hall in completing the building after Utzon's so-called resignation.  Read more.

 Good design is about more than just appearances!

When will we learn to judge buildings holistically and take into account how well they serve the occupiers.  How many new apartments have natural cross ventilation for example?  And if not, why not? Read more.

 The olden times…

The availability in digital form of old architectural drawings from  the State Library raises a sentimental review of those times.  Read more.

Archi Drawing


Mister Pip shows mining companies can't be trusted!
Picasso once said the art is a lie that reveals the truth and the novel Mister Pip reveals the social and environmental carnage that has resulted from building what was the world's largest open cut mine copper mine on Bougainville.  Read more.

Postscript to 'When do you say no':
Supporting my instinctive reluctance to design a gaol, a US group proposes to outlaw architects working on buildings for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment including prolonged solitary confinement.  Who will take up the challenge to impose some ethical boundaries here?  Read more

When do you say no?    The dilemmas facing architects who have little power in the urban equation.  Read more.

 More fun than fun.

Someone opined recently that life was divided into work and fun, but that work was more fun than fun.  And it's true if you are fortunate; read about my Solomon Islands schools, they were fun.

 Fitzroy Street shops in hot water.

St Kilda's traditional role as the 'day-out' holiday resort for inner Melbourne is changing with rising real estate prices and a different resident demographic.  The changes this brings are being resisted, but while St Kilda will inevitably change, it will always remain a special place for Melburnians. Read more

Fitzroy Street top
Fitzroy Street on the city side of Grey Street.


Do you want Melbourne to follow London and Dubai?
See the video that provoked 2500 positive responses in Britain and understand what we must do here.  Read more.

 The 'owning' dreamtime' is over!  The overwhelming need in our cities is for good, well-designed rental housing at all economic levels.  The baby-boomers are probably the last generation to own their own homes; we have to face economic facts and change the dreaming! Read more

 Something's very wrong with architecture.

Sorry to bang on about it but the current crop of awards leaves this old architect unsatisfied about the direction the profession is taking.  Read more.

 An Open Letter to the Minister for Housing:

The interior planning and design standards of many new apartments are deplorable.  A way is proposed for the Minister for Housing to build demonstration buildings to improve standards; walk through examples rather than more words.  Read more

 Sinan and Gelibolu.

Thoughts about the absolute disaster that was Gallipoli must be tempered by respect for the brave men who fought there.  And we must learn to be more independent and avoid being sucked into wars that are not in our direct interests?    Read more.

The Magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque
The  Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, the St Pauls of the Ottomans: architect Mimar Sinan


Le Corbusier, the man and his architecture.

Arguably the greatest architect of the 20th Century, recent revelations show he also had extreme right wing political and anti-semitic views.  Read more

Acland Street yet again!

A voice from the wilderness begging for commonsense decisions from the seven Port Philip councillors.  Read more. 

You don't know what you've got until it's gone!

The NSW Government is proposing to sell off the great heritage sandstone buildings in Bridge Street for short term gain. 
See the pics and read more.

Gropius, Mies and the Nazis.
To what extent should architects take any notice of the morality and politics of their clients?  Were they justified in participating in a Nazi architectural competition?    Read more

The end of the world is not nigh, but we should watch our step.

Current legislation aimed at countering terrorism combined with unfounded journalistic concerns about 'political instability' could lead to a dangerous situation.  Democracy is only as good as the people running it, as Hitler's totally legal rise to power shows.  Stop shopping and read more

 Roll on the happy republic!

It's the conventional wisdom that the time to re-awaken the issue of Australia becoming a republic is when the Queen dies.  Elizabeth will be 90 next year so it's time to start thinking about it, spurred on by Mr Abbott's re-instituting of knighthoods and being so fatuous as to award one to Prince Phillip. 
Read about the lessons to be learnt by republicans from the Chilean referendum that got rid of General Pinochet. 

To put in order-that's the task

A personal explanation of Auden's verse in action.  Read more and start putting things in order to create a world that works.

 We are all of us planners.

The planning objective of property developers is to maximize the financial return on their investment and they are only answerable to their shareholders.  So we don't need to be backward about the need to plan urban development to defend the public interest.  But we do need to reform the planning departments in local councils so they aren't barriers to effective citizen involvement.  And our politicians should start treating us with the respect Lincoln gave to his electorate. Read more.

 MacRobertson Girls High School, Norman Seabrook, Dudok and the whole question of influences.  Robin Boyd said that MacRob was 'the building that introduced the revolution of modern architecture into Victoria'.  Read more.

Planning IS politics.

'What actions would make the greatest difference to the largest numbers of Melburnians ?'  Read more

We should emulate Rosetta in Fishermans Bend.
Mankind's paradox has been described as 'standing knee deep in sewerage shooting rockets at the moon.' Why can't we collaborate like Rosetta more often to achieve better housing in this imperfect world; Read more

 Architects need to grow up!
The current controversy about Zahar Hadid's World Cup Stadium in Qatar and unsafe working conditions on building sites reveals a fault line in architectural thinking. Read more.

Remembering Gough. 
Personal memories of a great man; Read more.

How do you design a building?

Scientists automatically do a library search when they are confronted by a new area,  but architects don't usually consult anyone or take advice when they are asked to design a building.  And they rarely go back to see how well their buildings have worked out.  Read more.

 The tail is wagging the Acland Street dog.

The proposal to make Acland Street a pedestrian space with fresh food market stalls and shady trees is in danger of being dominated by tram concerns so that the main advantages are in danger of being lost.  Matters like this are never black and white and a balanced view is required.  (Reprinted from the St Kilda News) 
Read more.

Lettering on buildings.
It' simplistic to simply enlarge a mechanical type face for a building sign.  Too often signs look like postage stamp carelessly stuck on an envelope. Click to seesome good examples on vernacular buildings


Range Riders :
This contemporary political novel confronts the corrupting relationships between State governments, councils, developers and the community when radical changes are proposed in urban areas ...more

The Architecture People :
Michael Grant, born in working class Fitzroy, is caught up with the modern movement in architecture and the possibilities for social transformation inherent in the architectural process.  This novel chronicles the life of an architect obsessed by his work to the detriment of all else.... more

The Girl on the Beach :
A beautiful girl is found dead on the beach in St Kilda and cannot be identified. This novel continues the investigative role of journalist Ralph Bloom from Range Riders....more

Great oaks from little acorns grow.
The Paddington Society, the first and arguably the most successful urban action group in Australia celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the first large urban conservation area recently by a splendid formal dinner in the Paddington Town Hall.  Read more about the opportunistic way it happened.

Stop playing games in St Kilda.
There are good reasons why we elect commonsensical citizens to run local councils rather than letting the bureaucratic mandarins decide what's best for us.  The only problem in Port Phillip and other councils is getting the councilors to take the reins and lead.  Read more

 Reform is in the national interest.

The current situation in the Senate cannot be allowed to continue.  It's in the interests of both the two major political parties to combine to introduce joint changes to reform the Senate?  Read more.

Fathers and Sons.
A short story of contemporary life.  Read more.

Pissing in pockets!
Why the AIA should be more upfront and market their annual awards for architecture in a public exhibition. Read more

Chapter 66 of The Architecture People.
Direct action on the problem of the homeless.  Read more

 Australia and the US-China syndrome …

Malcolm Fraser says Australia should cut all military ties with the US before they drag us into more wars.  He thinks we should be independent in our relations with both China and the US and become the Switzerland of the South Pacific. This is a national debate we need to have before we commit ourselves to cutting welfare and spending billions on US jet fighters.  Read more

Following the Sun….
Contemporary houses should learn from the smart ways of handling sun and climate demonstrated by our unsung vernacular buildings, as these examples show; Read more

 Six out of ten!

There's no point having a great report full of good ideas if we can't read it easily. Read more

Chris Beaumont.
One of Melbourne's great unsung painters, there is a rare quality about Beaumont's paintings. See more pics

It will happen to all of us.
Designers must appreciate that the senses of all of us will become at the very least slightly impaired as we get older, and make intelligent provision in our buildings accordingly. Growing old is not for the faint hearted.  Read more

The Functional Tradition in industrial buildings.
Two buildings in the Functional Tradition and how they relate to the modern movement; one is a robust brick maltings building that was part of a brewery at Mittagong NSW and the other is a sawmill at Sawtell NSW appropriately in timber.   Click to see pics. 

 Will architecture survive as a separate profession?…

Car makers and fruit canners aren't the only ones affected by global changes in our economy.  Architectural practice has also been changing steadily over the last fifty years in major ways that most architects aren't at all happy about.  Read more

 The Auction;  a short story of contemporary Melbourne life.  Click to read.

 Changing hearts and minds.

I was reminded at a recent dinner table discussion how hard it is to change attitudes.  One person simply didn't want to talk about climate change and all that doom and gloom, it was all too hard and in any case he'd be dead by then.  Another accepted the situation but also didn't want to think about it, technology would find a way, it always had so why worry.  Read more

 The unity of white gal iron.
The proximity of the old houses in Broome and their simple geometry allied with a single wall and roof cladding material painted white provides a telling example to Oz suburbia of the attraction of visual unity rather than everyone trying to look different from their neighbours.  See pics

 The value of everyday design.
Architecture has always lent itself to the conviction that a better world is possible; it goes with the optimistic territory of designing things.  Architects should take their role seriously and demonstrate the value of everyday design and their potential role in it, by acting rather than talking.  It might even bring them more work! Read more

 The Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf.
This great building was completed in 1915 and is the longest timbered-piled wharf in the world and a great example of the Functional Tradition in action.  It outlived its usefulness when containers took over and the Government decided to demolish it.  But it was saved by Green Bans and a Sydney mob to be recycled into apartments and an hotel. Read more

 My secret Places in Melbourne.

As I live in St Kilda, many of my choices are not only on that side of Melbourne but are also dedicated to the every day city pleasures of the here and now, places available to all citizens and that are more experiential, more like those of ancient Kyoto than Swanston Street. Read more….

Wool stores in Pyrmont.
Buildings belonging to the functional tradition derive their aesthetic character directly from the way the challenge of practical demands was met, and the good qualities they possess are a product of the hard headed relationship of ends and means that is inherent in this approach. Read more .

 Thy will be done.

A short story of contemporary manners.
Click here to read… 

Tai chi under the wisteria.

A 20 year old  arbour in a pedestrian shopping street in Eastwood, the suburb Granny Smith apples came from, demonstrates the need for designers to take a long view. Click here to see.

How a good tradition was lost by default.

The sad story of the decline in the design standards of two-room primary schools in NSW over a 1oo year period. Click here to read and see pics.

 On all the evidence….

Extracts from the novel 'Looking Back', predicting the state of the world that will be facing our grandchildren in thirty and forty years time.  Click here

 Click goes the shears….
Read about the rise and fall of the wool industry and see the woolsheds, the cathedrals of the bush.  Click here.

 A personal odyssey and the vernacular….

Vernacular buildings are examples of economy, appropriateness, sustainability and truth to place and materials that we should learn from, and that we ignore at our peril.  Read more.

 The Bark Hut:
The first of an occasional series about the vernacular and functional tradition in Australia. Read more

 First we must reform the Senate ….

The recent election with its metre long ballot papers and where single issue parties with only a thousand primary votes have been elected on preferences is compelling evidence that reform of the mechanics of our Parliament are long overdue.  This is not a political issue, it is one of simple efficiency that all the major parties should support. Read more.

A bit unsteady;  Click to read this short story

 The architectural olympics ?

Two academics have made exaggerated claims that we are 'exporting Australian culture' with 'iconic' buildings being built overseas by local architects.  It all smacks of the cultural cringe. Read more

A short story about life after death.   Click to read

Gambling with civilization:

It's time to call a spade a bloody shovel.  The world is getting warmer, and it's largely caused by burning coal to generate electrical power. The long term consequences are dire unless action is taken to curb emissions and limit the impending increase in world temperatures as much as is humanly possible.
The coal industry proponents (and the climate deniers that they sponsor) do so out of direct financial self-interest.  What can we do to persuade the government to take action? Come to the demo, it will lift your spirits.  Read more….

Thank you Chris Beaumont:

Chris Beaumont paints luminous realistic still life paintings of fruit and vegetables in a great tradition handed down from renaissance times.  They still resonate with us today and his paintings make you realize that you're just not really looking. He designed this website, sends it out every fortnight and sorts things out when I get tangled up in the CMS editing software.  When I sent him the last newsletter he replied from Hyderabad and handled it all from there in this great electronic world.  Click here to see a great example.

 We need more detail and better design…

Recent design guidelines for the Fishermans Bend redevelopment are too general and leave too much undefined, and public submissions will change this market oriented government's developer oriented policies.   The Labor Party must articulate real alternative solutions before the elections in 2014. Read more… 

 Leaving home forever.

This moving photograph shows what it feels like to be forced to become a boat person and leave your home, the place where you were born and grew up, to leave forever and not see your family again.  While we can't allow unrestrained immigration, we have to develop compassionate bipartisan policies to deal with this worldwide problem. Read more

Look here!

These photographs of unpretentious open spaces in la Serenissima show that most new urban spaces in Australia are over designed and often a bit precious. 
KISS should be the principle. Click here    

 Healing spaces...

That your environment can affect your health has been known since the Greeks, but exactly how looking out on trees rather than a brick wall can affect your immune system is more complex. Read more...

She was tall and slim and wore a coloured headband...

A short story about love, life and impending death. 

 It was a long time ago, and in another country...

What does an architect do when someone who doesn't know all the circumstances is disparaging about one of his buildings?  Grin and bear it, or try and explain? Read more.

Reducing automobile dependence.

There are lots of good reasons and world-wide experience why we need more rail lines and fewer toll roads in our cities. Understand the traffic background to the current controversy over the E-W road tunnel.  Click here.

What can we do?

Is the E-W link a road to ruin, or not?  Don't know what we can do? Read aboutcrowdsourcing the problem.

LOOK HERE:  Anna Griffiths' demons surrounding St Anthony in the desert are currently exhibited at the Benedictine Monastery at New Norcia north of Perth.Click here. 

 A tale of two cities.

Paris and London both built imposing new public libraries at the millennium.  The French nicknamed theirs the TGB, short for la Tres Grande Bibliotheque, the very big library!  On the other hand the British Library was described by the architect as the Thirty Years War!  The designs mirror the politics and cultures of these two different cities, as well as being opposites in the way they approach architectural design.  And Melbourne has the Grand Prix.  Read more.

Mildura Streetscape….

In a recent article The Spaces In Between I mentioned that Mildura had deciduous vines over some of the footpaths instead of the normal awnings but couldn't find the photographs at the time to illustrate the point. Click here to see a good urban solution. 

 One of the first boat people….

Two hundred years ago Francis Greenway arrived in Sydney as a convict and two years later was made Civil Architect at three shillings per day.  Chance had placed an exceptional and difficult architect together with a visionary Governor.  Lachlan Macquarie thought that boat people like Greenway could redeem themselves in this new land.  On arrival they had found a gaol and six years later they left a colony with some fine buildings that are still in use. 

The spaces in between….

Urban design is the design of the spaces between buildings.  Swanston Street and the new tram stops are good examples. But we need to take this work into the suburbs where simple changes like planting trees and widening footpaths can make a difference out of all proportion to their scale in suburban shopping streets. Read more...

 Why are there so many boring new buildings?

Vitruvius would turn in his grave: an examination of some of the multiple reasons that affect the poor design of contemporary buildings in a rapidly changing world.  Read more

The Interview:
The young interviewer regards the old architect as some sort of antediluvian 'no theory' creature , a type she had read about but had thought to be long since extinct; an extract from the novel 'The Architecture People'. Read more

 Botox for buildings...

Everything changes in this world, nothing ever remains the same, yet while the pioneers of the modern movement in architecture claimed that buildings had to be perfectly white they couldn't live up to this ideal.  Architects have to accept change and design with the weathering of buildings in mind.  Read more

 Crowdsourcing a better Melbourne …

Both major political parties are in thrall to development interests and advocate freeways rather than railways.  For blatant electoral reasons both the Doncaster Rail Link and the Metro underground were ignored in the Budget favour of the East-West Toll Road.   

How can citizens stop commercial pressures subverting urban planning and ensure that public comments really influence what happens?  How can we ensure that Fishermans Bend doesn't end up another Docklands?  

Perhaps the technique of crowd sourcing could help citizens groups to co-operate so that their voices get heard in the proposed Metropolitan Planning Strategy.  Read more.

The Homeless and Middle Class Welfare ....

Yesterday there were three mid-twenties people sitting at intervals along the Acland Street shopping strip all with hand written cardboard signs saying they were homeless and hungry.   Read more.

 Writing about architecture:

Why is it that movies, books and art exhibitions are all reviewed, or at least noticed and discussed as being culturally important, but that buildings which affect our cities and all of us in much more fundamental ways are not subject to the same scrutiny. Read more.

The separate realm of Louis Kahn:

For whom do architects design building?  For the client who is paying their fees, or the users who will eventually live or work in the building, or the public who may simply visit the building or walk past it in the street?  Or, as is often alleged, are they really designing for themselves, to win awards, get published and win the plaudits of their peers?  Read more.

 Steps and stairs ….

Stairs in public spaces need to be shallower and deeper than stairs inside buildings.  The Athenians knew how in 450 BC and they knew how in Melbourne one hundred years ago.  So why do most of our new public spaces have such stingy stairs?  Read more.

New St Kilda Commercial….
Four new buildings in the Acland Street precinct.  How can design standards be raised and the inevitable redevelopment be done in a more co-ordinated and better way?  Read more.

 Meet me under the clocks….

Competitions are a mixed blessing with a very uneven history.  The Flinders Street Station is last big empty site left in the CBD but there is no great vision for its development. The competition brief is open-ended and asks for the design to be at least partially self-funding; is this a recipe for an enormous commercial component and another costly PPP?  Read more…

Modernism alive and well in Elwood…..
This house on a crowded suburban block in Elwood shows the virtues of a problem solving approach.  !  It's the architectural equivalent of the way mathematicians talk of an 'elegant' solution, solving a problem with fewer equations and more wit!  Read more…

All the Caravaggio's….

Kate explains how she met Ralph Bloom and what happened; the last of the Ralph Bloom short stories.  Read more

 The Eureka struggle isn't over yet….

When are we going to be able to say, 'I am, you are, we are Australians,' and we that live in a democratic republic?  Read more.

Restoring respect in our politics….
The ways in which the current Prime Minister is being badly and unfairly treated because she is a woman are examined and she is compared with Queen Elizabeth 1.  Read on

Crunch time at Waterfront Place?

I wrote about the Port Melbourne Waterfront Urban Design Framework Report prepared by council planners, back in February and don't see any need to change a word I wrote in the face of a recent application for a 4 storey, 9 storey and 18 storey complex of residential buildings on the Waterfront Place site; in my opinion there are good arguments for retaining the covenants, and that the three storey height limit for buildings should still apply.  Councillors: please read as a matter of urgency.

Vale Oscar Niemeyer.

In December last year Oscar Niemeyer, one of the great architects of the 20thcentury died age 104.  Read more about him.

 To sin by silence……

The census shows an 8% increase in homeless people in Australia over the last 5 years; there are now 105, 000 of us sleeping on the streets or in emergency accommodation.    What can be done to alleviate this pressing problem in Marvellous Melbourne when at the same time we have a government proposing to spend billions on a magic pudding car tunnel of doubtful value. Read about it.

Luna madness….
We should not only celebrate the centenary of Luna Park but also remember with gratitude the citizen actions by Julia Murray and her colleagues asThe Friends of Luna Park since 1990 that have saved it from development…..and it's not over yet! Read more.

For the eyes of Port Phillip councillors …
Council must take responsible action to trim the budget and reduce the rates.  They could start by asking whether the high cost of Divercity is affordable after taking into account how few people actually read it. Would the money be better spent elsewhere?   Click here for details.

 Reflections on the elections….

Time to move on with suggestions that the new councillors should abandon party voting and concentrate on the immense financial problems facing the Council.  Read more

Heritage in action...

A tale of two cities in 1890 when grand town halls were built in  Paddington and St Kilda.  Read about the Burra Charter, conservation plans and how both buildings were restored a hundred years later, and what is important when protecting and restoring old heritage buildings.  Read more

Accidental Politics.

A short story chronicling the accidental meeting between an investigative journalist and a numbers man in the Right faction of the NSW State Labor Party, a meeting that developed to their mutual advantage with an operatic finale.   Read more.

 Three and a half stars ?  

Why don't we have regular reviews of new buildings in The Age in the same way that we review films and books?  Two 'reviews' of the recent RMIT Swanston Academic Building designed by Lyons Architecture are discussed.Read more...

A Better Life. 

A short story for our time.  What would your reaction be in this human situation?   Read more

 Getting to Yes: Better ways of making planning decisions.

How important community decisions can be made in a more democratic way...more

Response to Triangle Forum Feedback Report :
A frustrated four page critique of a council report that outlines the next steps needed to determine the future of this prominent beachside site in St Kilda...more

Another War in Port Melbourne ?........Local residents are opposing twin 14 storey residential towers proposed opposite Station Pier in Port Melbourne.   The overall proposals for the waterfront area are unexceptional and should be embraced but the Waterfront Place site originally had a height limit of 3 storeys and this issue bids fair to be another Triangle for the council.   Read more.

A Modern Fable; The Developer and the Community :  Originally published in Contemporary Fables; Volume 1 by Gilgamesh Connections

The St Kilda Festival came and went.....   Attendances were down in 2012 and the question is whether it's had its day. Why not ask the people.?  

Let's plant trees while we're waiting...       The suggestion has been made that the mature trees removed from the car park 3 years ago to make way for the ill-fated BBC shopping centre should simply be replaced until a final decision is made. The way things are going, they would probably still be there for your great grandchildren.  Read  more

Who's running this Council?........Here's a paradox; there are 90 thousand citizens in Port Phillip who pay high rates to employ 500 staff to look after everything. The staff 'consult' with the public about what should happen in the community, but usually end up doing it their way; the tail is wagging the dog; Read more.

A different sort of sea change……The first real casualties of climate change in Australia are six small islands in Torres Strait. 350 people live on the main island Saibai and they have asked the Federal government for $200 million to build a seawall to enable them to continue to live there.  Apart from the cost, a seawall isn't a long term solution and it looks likely that these people will have to be relocated to the mainland.  Imagine the carry-on if it were about Melbourne folk living on an idyllic island in the Yarra River near Abbotsford, but the people of Saibai don't have that much political clout!  It seems like a good opportunity to treat the people of Saibai with respect and work out guidelines that can then be applied when the same thing inevitably happens in Middle Park or Sorrento.  Read more

The China-US syndrome……….The rise of China as a great economic power, and our automatic and unthinking response to side with the US about everything is inevitably going to threaten our trade with China.   We need to adopt an independent line with both of them. We have to learn that only a completely tough, independent stance towards both of these great powers will gain us grudging respect and security. The first step to being truly independent is to become a republic. Read more.

Do we need another freeway tunnel?...........An under-ground freeway linking the Eastern Freeway and Citilink has been proposed against a chorus that 'It will be good for business and will create jobs.'  Is there any way in which this idea could be subjected to more rational analysis?  And in any case we should be building railways not roads, but how to alter the agenda?  Citizen Initiated Referenda, that's how.  Read more

How to change perceptions?..............Anguished letters in local papers hate the taller buildings being built around railway stations and blame councils.  This is unfair, councils have little power in this situation and in any case for economic and environmental reasons we have no rational choice but to contain the next few million people within the existing metropolitan boundaries of Melbourne rather than sprawling halfway to Albury.  The answer in part is better design, and not higher than eight storeys with setbacks.  Bay Street Port Melbourne is cited as an OK example, but let's do it better still. Read more.

Would Fewer Councils be Better?........The argument has been made that there should be another round of council amalgamations so that Nimby attitudes will not frustrate the  containment of the growth of Melbourne until 2030 within the existing metropolitan boundaries.  But the size of councils is not the problem, what's needed is a strong central planning authority. But there is uncertainty as the current government is proposing to change the Metropolitan Planning Scheme. An Enquiry into Local Government is what's needed in the first instance. Read more.

Black Day in the Valley!………….The VCAT ruling in favour of a new 600 MW coal fired electricity generator in the La Trobe valley is a black day for all of us.  Evidence showed that the proposed plant would not be 'best practice' and that even with a $150 million dollar taxpayer subsidy the project still isn't economically feasible. What can be done about this new coal polluter? Read more, and our thanks to LIVE for opposing it. 

Are they really listening to us?............It's hard to fault the idea that local councils should consult the public over things that will affect their environment.  But the reality is that most community consultation is ineffective and crushed by large council bureaucracies. How to change?

It IS broke, so let's fix it………..The current confusion and hypocrisy from both parties about the Speaker and a Labor member of the Federal Parliament highlights the urgent need for reform of our political system.  How about fixed 4 year terms for the Federal parliament, primary elections to select better candidates and reform of the Senate for starters.  But how can change be brought about in the face of indifference from both major parties? Read more.

More triangulation…….. or is it slow strangulation?     
A considered objection is made to the 6th working draft of the Triangle Forum Report.  The so-called Vision Plan has serious flaws and will be a straightjacket for any final design for the site.  Rights to appeal have still not been restored and no formal provision has been made for citizens to object.  The question of rights is NOT just a St Kilda issue, it's an important Civil Liberties one. Readmore

 The People's Choice is an Art Garden.......The Triangle should become a beautiful landscaped art garden. This is not only a civilised choice in the Catani tradition but also the most popular and most affordable option, and one that could be built and financed by Port Phillip Council without developer more

The World Turned Upside Down......Don Gazzard's forthcoming novel 'Looking Back' purports to be written in 2110 by a young woman historian based on the diaries, blogs and articles written by her great grandmother, a public intellectual who wrote for the Age and died in 2084, the year the narrator was born. Her writings over the previous seventy years covered a tumultuous time when Melbourne and its people were coping with the effects of increased temperatures and rises in sea levels, as well as food and water shortages. She wrote at length about the need to find a power alternative to coal and the technological changes that were possible, the need to build railways rather than more freeways, and the rise of the allotment garden movement, that she describes as the defining institution of her time.  Read extracts from this yet to be released novel that suggests how our society might be transformed.

Can we solve the housing crisis?  ………A house and land package in the outer suburbs is almost beyond a couple with good jobs, and if they can manage it, all of one salary goes to pay the mortgage.  It's even worse for people on low incomes who'll never be able to own their own home, and because of a shortage of rental housing are increasingly unable to afford the high rents created by scarcity. The Federal government hasn't provided adequate funds for low-income rental housing for years.  It's one of the basics of an honorable civil society that all people should have the dignity of adequate shelter. Possible solutions are suggested;read more.

We need real public servants like Carlo Catani…….
On his memorial on the Esplanade in St Kilda, Catani is described as
'A great public servant of Victoria' and he stands as a silent reproach to the officers of today's corporatized councils.  Port Phillip Council is seen as inexperienced in project management, and needs to reduce staff numbers, reduce costs and reduce the rates to a sustainable level.  A managerial and operational review of the activities of the council with citizen inputs is needed to achieve this; read more.

Does it matter who owns this country?  We don't even know how much foreign investment there is, and the old concerns about China since the gold rush days keep surfacing. Read more.

Floods in St Kilda…

An extract from the diaries of Adelaide Grant written in 2019.  From the unpublished novel 'Looking Back.' Read more.

Architects, bless 'em……

With fifty years of architecture behind me, I wrote a novel The Architecture People to try and tease out the attitudes and behaviour of architects like myself and the people I'd known; click on Publications for details.  I attempted to describe what motivated architects like Michael Grant, the hero of my novel.  Michael is married to a painter called Lotti and Michael recounts how Lotti often described modern architects to outsiders in a faux serious routine, telling them,

 'What you have to understand is that modern architects are a tribe, they are the Architecture People,' she would say, 'in the same way that gypsies are the Romany People, both are world wide tribes, both a bit at odds with the modern world.

Read more about the architectural sub culture and their current awards.

Eeny meeny miney mo...who will you vote for?

Councillors are badly paid and take second place to the power of the council bureaucrats, and the possibilities of malpractice and corruption are ever present where planning decisions can affect the value of land.  Yet there is no shortage of aspirants and  the last Saturday in October will be your last chance till 2016 to have your say.  Read more.

Australia is like the frog in a pot of hot water.......

 Management consultants often use the following parable about change: if a frog in put in a pot of water and the temperature is slowly increased, the frog ends up being cooked.  On the other hand if the frog is dropped into a pot of already boiling water, he hops straight out again. Australia is in danger of being slowly cooked by our general inaction on climate change.  Extracts from the unpublished novel 'Looking Back' in 2033 describe how climate change, which had largely been ignored over the previous 20 years suddenly affected life in Melbourne.  Read more.

 It makes you think…….

Adelaide was always concerned that she lived in a bubble of like-minded people at St Kilda.  Not that she and Erik were that well off, neither of them had well paid jobs, and apparently they lived a reasonably frugal life.  But they both had the confidence of higher education and middle class backgrounds, and valued their free time as much as money.  As a so-called  'public intellectual' Adelaide was quick to see injustice or deprivation and speak out about it.  One of her blogs in early2015spoke about the wastage of food;  Read more from the unpublished novel Looking Back.

 The place to be…

Federation Square after ten years, and the history leading up to it.  With 9 million visitors last year, it's the second most visited tourist attraction in Victoria, but has it fulfilled expectations as Melbourne's answer to the Sydney Opera House.  Read more.

  Short Stories:

Eighty-four, and counting...

A short story. Read more.

 All these short stories illustrate incidents in the life of Ralph Bloom,investigative reporter from the novel Range Riders 

Accidental Politics  Read...

Confidences in the hot pool…..

What is it about being naked in hot water that prompts confidences between strangers?  Another short story about Ralph Bloom, this one set in the aftermath of the Kennett era.  Read on. 

 A Better Life  Read....

The End of the Day    Read....

Sydneysider Cover


Dunk Island Int
Tourist Resort Dunk Island, North Queensland
Thredbo Bridge

Footbridge at Thredbo, NSW

Jambaroo House
Jamberoo House, NSW

Hunters Hill Street
Wilkinson Award 1960

Sandy Point Interior
Sandy Point, Vic