Field Trip: thoughts from Townsville

I was recently in Townsville for Evoke, the regional architecture conference.

My duties - if you could call something so enjoyable a duty - included hosting a session featuring Australian artist Robyn Backen, and landscape architects Matthew Flynn and Ana Maria Pinto from Costa Rican practice, VIDA.

My grandparents used to live in Townsville so it was a place I visited often as a kid. It's been a long time though since I've been back, so here are a few thoughts from a whirlwind trip.

Castle Hill

For me, Castle Hill is the standout piece of the city's landscape. It's such a dominant landmark and important orienting device, but its real power is the way it registers the changing conditions. Freshly watercoloured in the morning, deeply saturated in the afternoon; bold when it's sunny, hunkered down when there's rain.

So Brutiful

Whilst I didn't make it out to James Cook Uni this trip, there is a goodly collection of brutalist architecture to be had in the city centre. Below we have the Family Courts buildings and the 'Sugar Shaker', a hotel currently operated by Grand Chancellor.

Water, Water

Whether its the sunset views to Magnetic Island from the Strand, the riverfront pools at Thuringowa or the slick new boardwalk at Kissing Point, Townsville-ites appreciate a good waterfront. (And why wouldn't you when it's a-thousand-bloody-degrees in the shade...)

Bonus Points

On the final night, conference speakers and hosts were invited to a very special dinner hosted owners of the award-winning Bath House, by local architect Stephen de Jersey.

The owners commissioned Stephen to add on to their lovely, intact Queenslander and the result is an open-air shower and verandah sheltering under the massive backyard mango tree.

Stephen led us all on a tour, and all the interstate and overseas speakers, including Kengo Kuma, were fascinated by the elevated, single-skin house with its deep, shuttered verandahs.

My huge thanks go to conference Creative Directors Lindy Atkin and Stephen Guthrie, from Bark on the Sunshine Coast, for inviting me to be part of such a terrific event.