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Design revisited: architect Michael Dysart

Communal and co-operative medium density housing

DESIGN Canberra’s new Design Revisited series is a unique opportunity to celebrate design history, design education and design excellence in a city of design.

This Design Revisited event, held at the iconic Shine Dome, celebrates the work of architect Michael Dysart.

Michael Dysart is an important architect of the second half of the twentieth century in Australia and a leading practitioner of the late twentieth century Sydney regional style of architecture. Dysart’s most important works in Canberra are Urambi Village (1974) and Wybalena Grove (1974).

In this DESIGN Canberra keynote talk, Dysart will reflect on these rare communal and co-operative approaches to medium density housing development – lessons learned, what he’d do differently, and the journey to realise their ambitious vision.

To support Dysart’s talk, DESIGN Canberra has commissioned comedian and design nerd Tim Ross to produce a short documentary-style film interview with Michael Dysart which will premiere at this special event.

Dysart’s keynote talk is a unique opportunity to understand Canberra’s architectural and cultural history, and inform the development of contemporary co-housing projects.

 

About Wybalena Grove and Urambi Village

Wybalena Grove and Urambi Village are relatively rare and well-preserved examples of 1970s housing in Australia. The housing is aesthetically significant for its massing reflecting function and landform, juxtaposed with fine detailing, all expressed in the textural and tactile qualities of natural materials. Each of these approaches represent creative and artistic excellence and epitomise modern architecture in the late twentieth-century Sydney regional style.

Wybalena Grove is a group of over 100 townhouses sited in natural bushland in Cook. The townhouses were designed by Dysart in 1974, with construction completed in 1977. They are an excellent example of late twentieth century Sydney regional style: split level with dark tiled roofs, clinker bricks, stained timber posts and beams situated on a sloping site in a natural bushland setting. The housing development was built by a private group of Canberra residents who pooled their resources to explore the idea of ‘living cooperatively’ in an urban space. They sought to encourage community interaction, an equal say in the management of their community, the sharing of common spaces, and a respect for the surrounding environment.  Wybalena Grove is a valuable resource to help understand Canberra’s architectural and cultural history, and to inform the development of contemporary co-housing projects.

Urambi Village is a well-preserved example of the move towards the introduction of diverse housing types procured through communal and co-operative processes for the purpose of demonstrating a socially responsible residential alternative and environmentally sensitive form of housing.

The idea of the Urambi Village Housing Cooperative, or Urambi Village as it is now known, was conceived by a group of public servants who came to Canberra to work in the Whitlam Government’s Federal Department of Urban and Regional Development in 1973. This group wanted to establish a new style of housing that provided a better environment and facilities than the standard single lot residential unit.

Pedestrian access to the houses from the parking areas is by pathways. The complex has a communal meeting room, a swimming pool, ball court, seating areas, letterboxes and garbage collection areas. The entries to most dwellings, with their vertically panelled cedar doors, are placed seemingly without concern for a formal front façade. Urambi Village was awarded the RAIA ACT Chapter C S Daley Medal in 1982. In 2002 it was awarded the RAIA ACT Chapter 25 Year Award.

 

Doors open at 5:30pm for a 6pm start. Please allow time to register when you arrive.

Design revisited: architect Michael Dysart
Thu 19 Nov 2020
18:00 – 19:30
$25
Wybalena Grove. Photo: 5 Foot Photography
Wybalena Grove. Photo: 5 Foot Photography