ISSUE 23_WELCOME TO RINGWOOD _BY MICHAEL LOPES-VEIRA _SUBJECTS_ # DEAR ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL... _Welcome to Ringwood _1970 1977. PASSION IN THE SUBURBS., Richard Munday, AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTURE. “He allows the imperfect solution and argues that architects should exploit actively the entire architectural palette.” “There are no fixed laws in architecture but not everything will work in a building or city.” “Corrigan tried to hard to be, you know, different. Just a whole lot of stuff. Nothing in the least bit unusual.” “The scale of the church is ambiguous; it's a big little building, the only public building in he are so it’s important.” “But if scale sets the church apart, the choice of elements returns it to the milieu because it is from there that they are selected.” “This provides people with the opportunity to “discover” the church, the subtle rhythms, and the references to German objectivism.” “Venturi observed that, when architects ceased to ornament there buildings they began to design their buildings as ornaments.”
_1990 September 1990. Eastern regional libraries release the architectural brief Ringwood library. “The library is to serve the library and information needs of the City of Ringwood which has a population of 43,000 people. There is unlikely to be an y significant increase in the foreseeable future.” “Through the appropriate use of glass, it should be obvious to the passerby that there is a library inside.” All exterior and interior fittings, finishes and furniture should be of high quality having consideration for functionalism, durability and aesthetic.” “Exterior signposting and time illumination should be a significant feature of the building.” May 1991. Letter from Ringwood historical group. “We started at a time when the old Ringwood was rapidly being swept away to make way for houses on the orchards, and the Eastland complex.” “We have reason to sense that there is a strong resistance to our presence within the Library.” “We are not easily going to give away property received in good faith to perpetuate the past history of Ringwood.” November 1993. First proposal of Ringwood library to the public. “Mr Paech said the development was designed to more effectively link Eastland with the Civic Place.” “The development will be funded by money paid into the trust in instalments by Coles Myer under the Eastland site agreement. The trust currently holds $1.9 million but will have a further $7.9 million fed into it within 12 months. ” “The existing library is 20 years old but according to Mr Paech suffers from structural problems, insufficient natural light, inadequate staff facilities, and ineffective layout and is too small.” “Under the agreement with Coles Myer, council can proceed with a “complimentary “development to Eastland on the area it retains. ” 1993. Look at me! Michael Dickinson, The Age, Good weekend. “He’s always been more interested in the reality of the street.” “Architecture should be part of the bunfight. Bunfight? That’s what Corrigan calls “the identifiable culture emerging in Australia.” “It wears it budget where it shows the most – on the façade.” “Yes, this was an architect showing his box of tricks, but the tricks were defiantly related to suburbanism.” “What lies behind the trenchant rejection of mainstream architectural notions of good taste and structural philosophies?” “It has to do with Australians’ ambivalence to their land.” May 1994. First release of Ringwood library images to the public. “The development will be the first time trust funds have been utilised and will provide Ringwood with a new level of community facilities and civic focus.” “The plans build on the Ringwood District Urban Design Study which was completed in 1991.” “The library will be a building of which the Ringwood community will be proud.” “The building, with its curved roof lines and high levels of natural light in, in concept similar to the domed ceilings in many of the major libraries of the world.” 1995. Going for the good. Marcus O’Donnell, Monument. “It’s basically bang for your buck. An attempt to dignify modest resources. There seems to be a ‘good’ in solving problems with modest resources.” “Ringwood is one of those corridor suburbs that radiate out from every Australian city.” “I’ve built a public building, put a square in front of it, and attached some pedestrian thoroughfares. A clear urban structure has been established, and if you add the size of the library onto the plaza, it adds up to a substantial public space.” “To simply suggest that architecture is something that you open a door into is disappointing and ignorant. Speculation in and around architecture has been as important as anything that has ever been built.” “The mesh vent toppings at the Ringwood Library are characteristic of the architects deliberately placed detail and object. One can almost see Corrigan dropping them in.” “In Ringwood there is the early architecture of the now-vanished country town.”
_2000 2003 . Savage and the scarlet. Conrad Hamann. Architecture Australia “Then there were the suburbs. Seized on early as an exciting Australian substitute for dark satanic mills and tubercular demoralisation.” “With a singular sense of both narration and area, and of architecture and story interwoven, so that each building is a layer and series of episodes, of events, “Colorbond, and a now signature anodizing, has fused with harlequin roofscapes which swell in billowing and monumentalizing clouds as at RMIT (1990-94), or the Ringwood library (1994-5).” “But it comes with increasing force and range from the 1990’s, as when Ringwood Library links an older strip shopping centre, a car park and the Eastland complex simultaneously.” 2003, Revisiting Ringwood. Anna Johnson, Monument.“Unfortunately, it appears here as if a judgment has been made that there are fringe areas – outer-suburban east and west - that just don’t seem to warrant that sort of social investment.” “This enables the justification of an alternative argument that says that architecture is just like dirty underwear, cosmetics or hair gel – forget about buildings that are going to last, build to throw away.” “For example, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen in Moreland or some of the sophisticated inner-suburbs because it wouldn’t be tolerated.” “John Howard’s battlers don’t live there. We have here an example of a significant piece of infrastructure that is simply being demolished. It’s one thing not to be bothered to build public infrastructure; it’s quite another to knock it down.” 2003. Maroondah city council announce initial founding of $700,000 for Ringwood transit cities project
THE BUILDING A view from the Maroondah highway through a slight opening is vour ﬁrst encounter with Edmond & Corrigan’s valiant Ringwood Library. The full scale of the library is not visible through the banal shop fronts, and only a slight glimpse between two trees at the initial entrance gives you a sense of something a more. The aerial view of the library is more immediate from afar. The ﬂowing rooﬂines, which become more apparent when observing from ground level, are contrasting against those linear lines that are surrounding. A closer View of the building and public space begin to reflect traces of Piazza de Campo in Siena, Tuscany. In a way, the surrounding structure envelopes the civic domain around it. Around the periphery of the site, structures such as the exhaust tower have been treated with as much care as the building itself. Conrad Hamann notes that you can almost see Corrigan positioning them on the site, and that the profile was derived from the later Josef Olbrich Priest's house in Darmstadt1. They begin to indicate and balance the library's presence from any of the two axes around it. The public view towards the main entrance is met with a collision of different characteristics. The tiles that cover the exterior wall are austere in nature, and are common place within the realm of public buildings. Corrigan's treatment of the tiles' colours and patterning begin to change the perception of a commonly used product. The same effect is felt through the use of brick and colorbond steel. Corrigan mentions that the library as 'bang for your buck' and that if you can find a way to dignify ordinary resources, something good may come of it(2). The offset from the modest use of materials is counteracted by the expressions through geometry. Haman reflects on the billowing roof forms and how they reflect hints of Alvar Aalto and the Lappia House (1975) in Rovamiemi, Finland3. The combination of both the curving roof forms and the lines of the Colorbond profile, create a sense that the suburban vernacular has a more grand presence. Furthermore, instead of being foreign to its surrounds it remains embedded in its locality. These effects are also complimented by the brickwork that is so commonly used in residential architecture. Internally, the exterior is reflected. Aspects like the large polychromatic glazing and the roof-scape work as a cohesive unit to primarily filter light into the space, whist also adding colour against the stark white ceiling. Similarly, elements of both Aalto and the theatre are combined to complement the large open space. The columns that support the structure are reminiscent of those used in Aalto's Teacher Training College (1956) in Jyvaskyla, Finland. While the directional sign post seems to have spawned as in interpretation of the 1993 theatre production Levad, which Corrigan designed. The Ringwood Library plays out as series of episodes, which draw across a duration of time, beginning from 1930's Scandinavian Europe while at the same time promulgating towards the suburban vernacular of Ringwood.
The Background The conception and construction of the Ringwood Library was a story of two parts. The initial planning process was commenced with the release of an architectural brief in 1990. From that point, agreements needed to be made between Ringwood Trust who were proposing the new library and Coles Myer, who held a site agreement on the land(6). Any future developments on the parcel need the approval of Coles Myer as they were the proprietors of Eastland, which adjoined the site. During the course of 3 years, two proposals by the Ringwood Trust to Ringwood Council were opposed by Coles Myer(7). The Ringwood Trust then commissioned Edmond and Corrigan to submit a proposal to council, which was approved. Coinciding with the approach by the Ringwood Trust to Edmond and Corrigan as the recent completion of Building 8 for RMIT, by Edmond and Corrigan. Soon after Building 8 was completed it became the focus of an article by Michael Dickinson in the The Age's Good Weekend magazine. Dickinson notes that Edmond and Corrigan don't prescribe to the doctrine of Modernist structures, which are so prevalent in Melbourne's CBD. Instead, opting to go in search of an architecture that reflects what, “Australians seem to value in everyday life.”(8) Is the attempt by the Edmond and Corrigan in the design of Building 8, one of a noble cause? And how would their architecture transcend into the new Ringwood Library design? As construction works commenced on the site of the Ringwood Library, an article was released by the Ringwood News, introducing and allowing the public to visualise their new library, through an artist's impression. The image featured in the article was of the eastern facade. It was coupled with another image of the main entrance and they were attached to the temporary fence of the construction site. Both of the images depicted the library as an austere public building within its civic surrounds. With the only distinction to its immediate built environment, coming through the library's varying geometry. As the metal frames of the library began to rise behind the images of a pristine world on the temporary fence, the fresh face of Ringwood announced its new identity. The structure was playing out as series of episodes. Each curve of the frame gave the Ringwood Library validity against the opposing buildings. As the structure came to its completion the next link in the chain was the facade. Echoes of Building 8 began to resonate through the mixture of materials used. The initial notions of the austere civic building on the panels in front of the construction site, became a distant remnant. The banana yellow and sky blue coloured tiles around the perimeter wall of the main entrance transcend through to the celestial glazing above. The colours seem to bounce around on their own accord and differentiate from the aligned pattern below. Conrad Hamann mentions the liver coloured bricks on the rear exterior walls, harping back to the warehouses in Sydney which surrounded Darling Harbour (10). Finally, the Colorbond cladding that encases the curvilinear roofscape generates another dimension to the geometry, both vertically and horizontally.
Footnotes 1) O'Donnell, M & Haman, C (!995) 'Going for the Good', Monument. Iss. 8, pp 2-17 2) O'Donnell, M & Haman, C (!995) 'Going for the Good', Monument. Iss. 8, pp 2-17 3) Hamann, C (2003), 'Savage and the Scarlet', Architecture Australia. Iss 44, pp 79-85 4) Kemp, D (1993) 'New Library Plan', Ringwood Post, 24 November, pg 1 5) Haythorne, J (1993), 'Council bucks at development plan', The Mail, 14 December, pg 2 6) Haythorne, J (1993), 'Council bucks at development plan', The Mail, 14 December, pg 2 7) Haythorne, J (1993), 'Council bucks at development plan', The Mail, 14 December, pp 2 8) Dickinson, M (!993), 'Look at me!', The Age: Good Weekend, 11 December, pp 42-47 9) (1994) 'New library under way', City of Ringwood news, Iss 4, pp 1 10) Hamann, C (2012) Cities of hope: remembered, pp 78-88, Thames and Hudson Ltd, Victoria . . .