Outdoor living in the State Library of Queensland

Raxworthy, Julian R. (2008) Outdoor living in the State Library of Queensland. 'scape Magazine, 1, pp. 79-83.

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The name of the discipline ‘landscape architecture’ suggests that landscape’s primary relationship is with architecture. This may be true in a professional sense, but landscape as an idea is a dialectical relationship with the idea of the interior. This relationship is not simply a binary opposition, since you can hardly understand the exterior without first having a sense of the interior. To say it even more simply, without knowing enclosure you cannot know expansiveness. For the garden, western garden historians confirm this through their identification of the hortus conclusus, the walled Medieval garden, as the source from which the pleasure garden developed, and from which it later expanded into the broader landscape of the Renaissance. This relationship is effective, too, because landscape architects in their role of designers divide and demarcate space, and it could be said that to manipulate space is to play with variations on interiority. Thus it could be argued that landscape architecture can learn valuable lessons from observing and learning how designers explore interiority, particularly in projects that consciously seek to dissolve the separation between inside and outside, or which at least creep outside. A recent building from subtropical Australia consciously explores these relationships. The State Library of Queensland was designed by architects Donovan Hill and Peddle Thorp and is located in Brisbane, the capital city of Australia’s third most populated state Queensland, half-way up the east coast, just where the country starts to get hot and sticky. As a colonial country, Australia is still in the thick of developing its own building and landscape typologies, which are distinct from, but obviously related to, its European roots. These typologies are important to allow designers both to deal pragmatically with the sometimes difficult Australian climatic landscape, but more importantly to engage fully the continent’s valuable and unique qualities. Post-war America went through a similar process with domestic Modernism, developing techniques and elements for outdoor living, a language of lifestyle that Europe has latterly taken up itself. For the tropical north of Australia, and particularly for Brisbane, the lessons of California outdoor living have been taken to a new level in the State Library where spatial demarcations of inside and outside have been inverted, and the building has literally turned itself inside-out, or perhaps, considering the local architecture fascination with landscape, outside-in. It may even be worth inventing a term for the simultaneity of this type of space, which suggests a joined interior and exterior, rather than two separate ones: so let us call it the inexterior. This project is important not just for its spatial moves, for how it configures this transfressive space, but also because it affects your head, changing how you think about these relationships. There are a number of strategies for this, particularly in materiality and functional use, which were experienced as revelations by the author, not simply in appreciating the project as a creative artefact, but also as a demonstration of a way of being in the world. The following discussion will focus on these rather than on explaining the project completely.

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ID Code: 20381
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australian landscape architecture, climate change, State Library of Queensland
ISSN: 1389-742x
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Landscape Architecture (120107)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Stichting Lijn in Landschap
Deposited On: 07 May 2009 23:22
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 13:38

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