Running time: 43 minutes
The architect Philip Cox was born in 1939 and studied at Sydney University. Having started his own practice in 1967, the firm is now one of the biggest and best in Australia, with ten partners and offices throughout the country.
Cox grew up at a time when there was a swing away from European influence, a return to nationalism and a seeking of Australian identity, and this has remained his aim. As he says in his talk, "We're trying to develop an architecture which is distinctively Australian, responding to the landscape, to the country's past, and to the various attitudes of what Australians thought", and to produce an architecture "that is different from elsewhere".
His was one of the first practices in Australia to recognise their Aboriginal heritage, as well as the importance of the vernacular. Being commissioned to design the Yulara tourist resort at Ayers Rock was his first real test in determining an Australian identity. More difficult in these terms were the many sports centres he has undertaken. But here he says that they fitted not only the aesthetic and cultural side, but also the economic and political sides of the equation. The centres in Sydney and Perth which he illustrates, exploring the minimalist use of steel, are beautiful examples.
With public housing he always delights in finding solutions which give a better life to people, providing them with identity, self-esteem, privacy and some sort of expression of the human spirit.
As well as endeavouring in his work to do something "perhaps more socially responsible and inspirational" and to continue an expression of structural exploration and elegance, the uppermost issue for Cox is to represent Australia in its minimal cultural sense, its response to nature being the most important thing.
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