on architects and their trees…


Threads emerge on iconophilia in unpredictable ways. Trees as icons? Bear with me. This time I’m suggesting heroic iconic status for a poor little tree of a completely different character to my previous post. In this instance we witness the architectural trope of planting exotic trees in the most artificial environments, as if somehow they’re going to thrive and enhance their surroundings. Just as Raquel Ormella has been photographing Canberra’s European trees at the end of their lives, so your iconophiliac has been noticing how little we’ve learnt at this end of the timescale. The trees above are planted in a asphalt-sealed geometric plinth which seems designed to shed water. Not that water falls from the sky any more. Good luck tree. We’ll report on your progress. This new building is at 16 Marcus Clarke, Acton. No architects acknowledged. But to give credit where credit is due, the eucalypts in the planter box out the front look as if their future is much more promising.


The trees below have struggled ever since they were planted at right angles to the sloping lawns in the nightmarish Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum of Australia. Vertical shoots are not permitted – although some survivors are evident in this photograph. This Cabinet of Cliches was designed by Room 4.1.3 (Richard Weller and Vladimir Sitta). Want to learn more? You can read the latter here on anger management and incontinence – ah! the internet’s a wonderful place.

True to its acronym the GOAD is the epitome of landscape design arrogance. It’s a profoundly uncomfortable site full of lame jokes – see their “Blue Poles” in the background. The other sad consequence (at the expense of its desired effects) is that “The Garden” has had to be modified time and again for Health and Safety reasons… Yet when there were suggestions the whole thing might be scrapped and redesigned, as Matthew Rimmer reports: “one of the designers … Richard Weller threatened to bring an action for a breach of the new moral right of integrity…” As my mother used to say: “goo-ah” (god help us all).


Compromise and insult. Even the NMA’s own account gets it all wrong…

Iconophilia invites readers to contribute to this thread. Examples of both the best and worst of the relationships architects have to trees are invited. In the meantime, you can lift your spirits by following the links the previous “if trees could speak” post has generated.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Anthony Moore on 08.12.09 at 11:16 am

Take a long bushwalk- it does wonders to mind.

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