Friday, 21 January 2011

Architecture: Clueless in Brisbane

Ask any construction engineer and you'll find that most end up straining and struggling with Architects who seem to have great ideas but no clue on what actually works in the real world.

Perhaps nothing personifies this age old struggle more than this article in the Australian this morning, the first paragraph reads:
NO one has done more to promote Brisbane as the "River City" than award-winning architect Michael Rayner, so it was improbably cruel that his own home flooded when the river erupted.

Come on ... improbably cruel? How about entirely expectable.

If Michael Rayner did not expect river levels to rise in the area (one day) then he's either entirely incompetent as an architect or lives in a fools paradise. Hopefully its neither and its actually the Australian jurno's flipping out mush to stir up sentiment in the receptive public.

So after his house has been flooded (bet it was built on a slab to sit low and take in the river) what has he come up with to respond to his new found grasp of the POST FLOOD Queensland?

Its interesting that his "new design" looks rather like the old traditional design that has been popular here for around a century ... you know ... the classic Queenslander!?

Well looking at the 'concept drawings' it seems that he's got a design that enables him enough height to sit on the roof and wait for the SES to come and get him when we get another flood like the one in 1893.

Well unless I've got the wrong guy it seems like he's from Sydney. Assuming this is his bio. Seems he graduated in 1980 (well before the last decent flood in Brisbane) and came to Brisbane in 1990. Just in time for the long drought ... wait ... I'll bet he thought it'd never flood here again.

You know ... climate change, it won't flood anymore here.

I don't know what he was designing before but it seems thathe's been living here for twenty years before he figured out that our grandparents built along the right lines.

You know, one of the things which drives me spakko here in Queensland, is the clueless designs which we get here from the south (typically from the major "developers"). They make things according to a plan down there without any regard to what the world is like up here.

Australia may be one country but the north is quite unlike the south and the east unlike the west, not that its fashionable for an Architect to actually consider the environment when designing a house.

Well Michale I'm really sorry you got washed out living on the edge of a river which has a long long history of flooding. But like all disasters I hope that you've come to grasp this place a little better. Looking at your new design it seems that this may have happened.

Oh ... one more thing ... go look at this history of the development of Somerset Dam, you'll find that it was intended at flood mitigation too. I am quite sure there were wankers back then spruiking on about it being a wonder which will flood proof Brisbane.

Well people should learn to discuss facts rather than discuss fancy. The capacity of Somerset dam is something like 0.38 Gigalitres and the capacity while the capacity of Wivenhoe dame is something like 2.64 Gigalitres. You don't need a degree in maths to work out that compared to Wivenhoe, Somerset is a puddle.

Somerset didn't save Brisbane in the 1974 floods and Wivenhoe didn't save us in these floods. So the message is pretty clear.

The River City needs to celebrate and build upon the beauty of our river, but unless you don't mind loosing everything, keep a respectful distance.

But this is perhaps the point ... the modern world seems to have no respect for nature, only a fantasy that we can dominate it.

Still, if you choose to live in an which floods (and will always flood no matter what the sales people say) then this design seems like it will help you to minimise your losses. You'll get wiped out by only the more extreme ones.


Charles Maclauchlan said...

that's the way houses are built in the American South East where tropical storms bring flooding.

Noons said...

"looks rather like the old traditional design"

Not possible! Wonders will never cease!

Cameron Murray said...

Don't get me started on house designs these days. I simply cannot believe what people will build, sometimes at great cost, to live in an airconditioned dark cave.