For years, Australia’s architectural fashion and engineering has been influenced by different factors as reflected in the emerging suburb projects. At both the national and international levels, traditional architectural boundaries were changed, with new ways of doing things emerging in the 20th century (Australian National Heritage, nd). Hays (1995) concurs with the 20th century architectural changes in suburb projects, particularly through his assertion that ‘another strategy is emerging in recent attempts to theorize the whole or exterior of architectural object, and to theorize architect as agent operative across this whole’. Hays specifically describes an increasing fascination with the architectural practice, which is no longer distinct from day-to-day ideologies and has no agenda for social changes in the society.
Overview of Australian Population and Suburb Profile
Australian population has continued to shift over the last decade. Furthermore, the movement took place from non-metropolitan amenity environs to suburbs (Burnley & Murphy, 2004). According to Salt (2001), there are three main Australian cultures that influence the built environment in the country: the culture of the bush during Federation; the culture of suburbia from the time of federation towards the end of the 20th century; and the emerging culture of the coast. Salt (2001) highlights that demographic cultures were supported by long-term demographic trends at the time of Federation, with 15 percent dwelling in suburbia at that time as compared to 58 percent living in suburbia in 2001. As of 2005, 12.6 million (out of 20 million) Australians resided in large cities, with the remaining 7.4 million residing within coastal communities (Salt, 2005; Stokes, 2005). The increasing shift of populations from non-metropolitan zones to suburbs implies the need to develop more buildings. The rising need for more housing projects has spurred the creation of varying designs, which warrant the evaluation of architectural practices. In this regard, it concerns different aspects, namely whether the recent changes have been influenced by the population shifts, or whether the cultural status-quo has been maintained, as well as whether the changes in population has the effect of occulting the reality in architecture.
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Evaluating Hays Perspective against the Phenomenon of the Australian Suburb and the Ubiquitous Project Home Market
In Australia as well as at the international level, architectural innovations tend to revolve around creations and experimentations that were conducted in the early to mid-20th century (Hays, 1995). In the 20th century, Australian architects, planners and engineers formed an innovative community, involving business and corporate optimism. In this context, an early transformation gained momentum in Australian suburb projects, including Canberra, which is the capital. In his article, Hays suggests that the theories of the mid-20th century yielded the aesthetics of collage and pushed away fragmentation and contradiction of architectural aspects towards an understanding that architecture entailed a number of components, including computer imaging, biology, mathematics, biology, video, along with graphic designs (Hays, 1995).
In Australia, there is a tendency to resist the new media introductions to adore the original architectural ideologies. The Sydney Opera House, completed in 1973, is one of the celebrated creative and technical architectural creation in Australia today. The inspiring and unconventional form of the building is recognized not only nationally, but also internationally. The celebration of the building justifies Hays’ assertion that the appeal of the architecture and the theory produced by architects after 1968 depict them as contemporaries of the new entrepreneurs (p.45). The popularity of architectures that emerged around this period in Australia attests to the ideological smoothness that was intended to achieve an expressive form of generation that has developed specific attitude towards processes of the cultural production and consumption. Furthermore, the international popularity of the Sydney Opera House architecture highlights Hays’ ‘semi-autonomy of different regions’ being blurred, with entities losing their distinctions while mapping of the real becomes indistinguishable from the real itself. Pfeil (1990), on the other hand, suggests the concept of ideological smoothness that is achieved through the audience over the years of defying patterns of the cultural consumption and production.
The continuity of experience that exists among the architectural audience within Australian suburb is attributable to internationally renowned architects, namely Walter Burley Griffin (Lesile, 2002). He obtained his experience from Chicago, while working with well-known Frank Lloyd Wright. Moreover, Griffin designed suburbs that appeal to the modern audience in Australia. It is possible to assume that one of the most fascinating designs done by Griffins and which remains distinctive even today is the Newman College, dating back between 1916 and 1918 (Lesile, 2002). The architectural form of the building was done using an innovative mix of rough stone base and smooth masses of concrete above it. To enhance the impact of the building, the designer extended its aesthetics through all aspects of the building, including its fixtures, furniture and fittings. The other striking feature of the building is its domed refectory that is made from the reinforced concrete. The highlight of the architect by Griffin in the early 20th century, however, contradicts the projected hope by Hays (1995), which consisted in that the new theory would produce unexpected and spontaneous effects and engender virtual intensities, whose manifestations in the form of programmatic activities evidently emerge. In reality, the architectural work in Australia in the early 20th century produced components that would be read as diagrams of potentials and ‘dispositif for differential forms, functions, contents and expressions from incommensurable registers pressed together into a single tissue’ (p. 45).
A separate report done by the Australian Institute of Architects (2015) appears to be different from Hays’ perception in that the current architectural practices celebrate the cultural status-quo. In this regard, he suggests that the contemporary suburb architects in Australia tend to reconcile with the Compact Urban Growth model. Thus, creations afford a certain level of self-sufficiency for the society, which implies significant attributes for the subsequent development. The architecture intensifies around key areas that bring out the social connection. For instance, Nightcliff shopping centre is an appropriate example of suburb mirroring social connections through its architecture. Presently, the suburb is bifurcated into two sub-centers, both of which have related functions, although the connections are largely poor. As a result, due to its architectural designs and planning, Nightcliff shopping suburb acts as a natural magnet for the public consumption, except for its substantial car park between the front door and Dick Ward Drive touted as the only poor contributor to the overall urban design. In addition, the suburb has a considerably appropriate appearance with regard to its design, which connects well with the modern day social generation. Consequently, on the one hand, a section of Nightcliff showcases the architecture that has connections with the present social expectations, while, on the other hand, it is quite evidenced that the cultural aesthetics of the region and set of aesthetic practices influence all other perspectives to a certain extent.
Hays explains the Althusserian position regarding the popularity of neo-avant-garde in the 1970s. It disparages the previous front and the problem of linguistic coding in architecture. Tafuri (55) did not stress on the architectural’ autonomy as the other side of Althusser’s dialectic and social domination in terms of its formation in regard to capitalism; Tafuri criticized the celebration of the autonomy of architecture as well as the entire project aimed at searching for the socio-historical meaning through architecture, which included neo-functionalism, criticism, and post-functionalism from within (Hays, 1995).
Hong Kong, which similarly has well-developed suburbs, features a substantial emphasis on the contemporary architecture. As Hays explains, the architecture of Hong Kong features functionalism, postmodernism and modernism. The lack of land for the suburb development has, however, resulted in clearing of older buildings with architectural designs that were based on cultural orientations in order to give way for modern architectural designs. This makes Hong Kong a centre for the modern architecture, which contradicts the Tafuri’s view that individual instances of architectural language can be reconciled within the structure of its initial meaning. In this regard, it is crucial to note that suburbs of Hong Kong had most of their original architectural designs destroyed with the purpose of developing a contemporary architecture, which suits the modern-day societal needs.
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An analysis of the history of Hong Kong’s architecture suggests a domination by two architectural elements, namely the Chinese and European architectural elements. However, some of the buildings’ designs lacked facilities such as elevators and toilets. Today, a number of the original buildings are preserved in Hong Kong, although they are in derelict states. The example of the latest Hong Kong’s architecture is the one showcased in I.M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower, which drew the controversy, since it failed to appeal to the fascination of the Hong Kong’s audience.
In his article, Hays suggests that contemporary theorists with modern architectural experiences of media, complex interactive systems, images and thoughts regarding the cultural dominance have a justification to theorize the media, biomorphic systems and computer generated forms. This discussion focused on the phenomenon of the Australian suburb as well as the project of a home market, while evaluating the history of architectural practices. The analysis of the Hays’s article in regard to the Australian suburbs’ architecture suggests both the concurrence with Hays’s perceptions and disagreement with certain notions at the same time. A brief overview of the growth of Australian suburbs suggests that due to quickly expanding suburbs, the country requires to adjust initial architectural designs in order for them to suit the needs of the growing Australian city population. However, in reality, some of the architectural designs in Australia done in the early and mid-20th century fascinates the contemporary audience due to their superior innovations that currently maintain the cultural status-quo. Furthermore, the suburb architecture in Hong Kong depicts a cultural and social change that has seen a clearance of the original suburb designs to suit the architectural needs in this regard.