Buildings at Risk, News

SIGN PETITION – Save Le Corbusier’s Capitol Complex in Chandigarh!


Le Corbusier’s famous Capitol Complex in Chandigarh is about to be ruined by the construction of 19 towers, each between 12 and 36 storeys tall, on land located just to its north. This project, called ‘TATA Camelot’, is being developed by TATA Housing, the real estate wing of TATA Sons, one of the largest industrial houses of India. This petition to stop TATA Camelot is directed at Ratan Tata, Chairman (Emeritus) of TATA Sons, who is an architect (Cornell ’62), and Pritzker Prize jurist.

1. The transparent relationship between the Capitol buildings and the agro-pastoral landscape and the Himalayas to its north, is an integral part of the design of the Capitol Complex. Le Corbusier documented this extensively, and carefully controlled all development in this area to ensure that it did not interfere with this relationship. He even moved the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to prevent the building of a military cantonment within the sightlines of the Capitol. (See Documentation below.)

2. Due to political exigencies (i.e. the redrawing of state boundaries in 1966), a portion of the land just to the North of the Capitol is no longer under the jurisdiction of Chandigarh Administration, but under that of the state of Punjab. The TATA Camelot project exploits this loophole to cash in on the exorbitant real-estate values of Chandigarh by proposing the construction of this high-rise residential tower complex. More than a hundred members of the Punjab legislature are shareholders in the project, raising questions of due process. (Click for Newsmedia Report.)

3. The towers are guaranteed to destroy the integrity of the design vision of the Capitol Complex. They will be an eyesore both from the Capitol Complex and from the Lake. The small sliver of land just to the north of the Capitol Complex deserves to be protected as a common heritage of the tricity region. There is ample developable land around Chandigarh on all other sides.(See Documentation below.)

3. While TATA Housing claims that its towers are “green”, a development of the size of Tata Camelot will severely disrupt the sensitive hydrology, natural habitats and rural ecologies of the area around it. It proposed on land that is at the very first flats at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is immediately adjacent to a national reserved forest. It is sited on former riverbed, created by diverting an intermittent river. Sukhna Lake, the pre-eminent public space of the city and a renowned wild-life sanctuary, is located just to its east. Three villages and extensive farmlands abut it. If this project is approved, it will set a precedent making it impossible to prevent other similar developments in this area. (See Documentation below.)

4. Chandigarh was a prominent part of Jawaharlal Nehru’s postcolonial vision for independent India. It was designed by Le Corbusier (along with a team of other European and Indian architects and planners) and is a signature destination of global modernism and the founding of the Indian nation. J.R.D. Tata, Mr. Ratan Tata’s predecessor, was an integral collaborator on this project, flying Le Corbusier on Air India regularly, and hosting him routinely in Bombay (now Mumbai). The democratic values of the Indian nation-state, and of modernism, enshrined in the Capitol Complex deserve to be protected.

5. Since two previous attempts to reach Mr. Tata and the senior management of TATA Sons have failed to resolve this issue, and while a legal argument is pending in the courts, this online petition is designed to appeal to Mr. Tata publicly.


IF you encounter an error message while signing the petition, please contact me at Thanks!


1. Early sketch by Le Corbusier (4th May 1952) establishing the fundamental relationship between the mountains and Chandigarh, with the Capitol Complex at the head.


MORE Photos and Materials

The Chandigarh Urban Lab


Sydney – ICOMOS Talk / Feedback from recent conferences

Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul (photo Scott Robertson)


Thursday 19 March 2015


ICOMOS General Assembly Florence: Presentation and discussion led by Sheridan Burke.
DOCOMOMO Korea: Presentation and discussion led by Scott Robertson.
World Parks Congress Sydney: Presentation and discussion led by Stephen Brown

Learn about the key messages from these conferences!
If you were there come and share your views!
Members of the public are welcome!

Time & Date: Thursday 19 March 2015, 5.30pm for 6pm start
Members $10, non-members $15 payable at the door.
Venue: NSW Government Architect’s Office Level 4 Conference Room McKell Building, 2-24 Rawson Place Sydney (diagonally opposite the Central Station clock tower).
RSVP: By Monday 16 March 2015 to Kate Higgins via email

Please note: RSVP is essential because of secure building access, to choose room size and to provide light refreshments.

News, talk, Tours

Open Day/Melbourne: Emigré Houses in Kew

Lyall House

Open Day and Design Discussion
Open Day: Sunday 22 March 2015

European Emigré architects such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe had a profound effect on architecture in the United States, and indeed the modernist movement internationally, including here in Australia.

The work of European Emigré architects living and working here in Melbourne is not well known. Simon Reeves’ recent splendid publication, Gentle Modernist: The Nine Lives of Anatol Kagan, has brought attention to the work of Anatol Kagan (1913-2009). Kagan was an architect who fled Germany in 1938, arriving in Melbourne in early 1939 at the age of 25 years, and who then developed a significant architectural practice here.

This Open Day includes a selection of houses by Anatol Kagan and other Emigré architects, such as Ernest Fooks and Ernest Milston, that were built in the renowned modernist enclave of Studley Park and Kew.

Tickets on sale Thursday 26 February.
Design Discussion: Wednesday 18 March, 6:30pm
An illustrated talk and discussion of Anatol Kagan by Simon Reeves.
Tickets on sale Monday 23 February.

Buildings at Risk, News

In the News


ACT public housing overhaul to go ahead despite move by Heritage Council to list buildings, Chief Minister says


A major overhaul of Canberra’s public housing stock will go ahead despite the fact that a large chunk of the flats listed for demolition have just been listed by the ACT Heritage Council, the Territory’s Chief Minister says.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr outlined a new urban renewal project today, which would see 11 public housing developments, primarily in Canberra’s inner north, demolished and replaced.

The first block to go would be the Owen Flats in Lyneham on Northbourne Avenue.

more on the Abc site



International Docomomo News


Exhibition: Moderno. Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, 1940–1978

February 11 – May 16, 2015, Americas Society, New York, USA
Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978 examines how design, one of the most innovative chapters in the history of Latin American modernism, transformed the domestic landscape in a period marked by major stylistic developments and social political changes. Sheltered from the overall destruction and disarray of World War II, many Latin American countries (specifically Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela) entered in an expansive period of economic growth in the late 1940s through the 1950s, which resulted in the modernization of major cities.”
February 11 to May 16, 2015 (Americas Society, New York)
October 2015 to January 2016 (The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas)
More details: website.



Crowdfunding: Nakagin Capsule Tower

by Kisho Kurokawa, Tokyo, Japan, 1972
“The Nakagin Capsule Tower is a mixed-use residential and office tower designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa located in Shimbashi, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 1972, the building is a rare remaining example of Japanese Metabolism. Metabolism is an architectural movement emblematic of Japan´s postwar cultural resurgence. The building was the world´s first example of capsule architecture built for permanent and practical use. The building still exists but has fallen into great disrepair. As of October 2012, around thirty of the 140 capsules remained in use as apartments, while others were used for storage or office space, or simply abandoned and allowed to deteriorate.With your support, we will use crowd funding to purchase as many capsules as possible to gain voting power to stop the destruction of this monumental building. As support for the project increases, we will hold opportunities for designers and architects to present their own suggestions for the re-purposing and renovation of the Nakagin Capsule Tower. Please donate and follow our efforts to save this architectural landmark!”[by Save Nakagin Capsule Tower Project]c6836c_5ed280ba74ff4ff08cb696b595b52a29.jpeg_srz_p_452_353_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpeg_srz


Rehabilitation and Re-use of Modern Movement Architecture

DOCOMOMO International has the pleasure of inviting you to attend to the DOCOMOMO International Seminar on Rehabilitation and Re-use of Modern Movement Architecture that will take place in Lisbon, at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, on 27th March. Also, it is with great pleasure that we further invite you to participate in the Modern Lisbon Tour that will take place in the morning of 28 March.

Attached you will find the program.
Please confirm your presence before than 20 February, in order to be possible to guarantee your participation.

Updated information at:


DOCOMOMO International is happy to announce that DOCOMOMO Shop online is available again! >>>

Docomomo International
Av. Rovisco Pais
1049-001 Lisboa
+351 917447696
+351 218418102


The Architecture of the Newman College

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PhD Thesis on the architecture of Newman College available online
Jeffrey Turnbull, Walter Burley Griffin: the architecture of Newman College,
e-book, University of Melbourne, 2015

This study engaged with the architecture of the ‘Initial Structure’ at Newman College, 1915-1918, so as to establish this building’s place in the oeuvre of Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937).

Griffin was inspired with the works of Philibert de l’Orme, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Hobson Richardson, and Louis Sullivan. He drew upon both Occidental and Oriental architectural motifs, Ancient to Modern.

Griffins’ Initial Structure has the regularity that comes about through structural articulation of mass, and a modulus, celebrates the intrinsic surfaces and colours of the materials of construction, and through its basic shapes and embellishments, it is loaded with associations. The quest for  ‘ideal purpose’ informed the planning, constructional, and formal choices of all elements in the design. Stylistically, the Initial Structure is ‘without cult’, a unique monument, which defies categorization.

To read thesis click here

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Membership Renewal and Subscription Reminder for 2015

Join Docomomo Australia now to participate in the local and international effort to discover, document and conserve architectural and landscaped sites of the Modern Movement across the 20th century in Australia and worldwide. Docomomo Australia is a volunteer group of architects, historians, conservationists and enthusiasts who all share a desire to raise awareness, appreciation and protection of Australia’s recent designed past for the present and future.Without a strong core of financial members, Docomomo Australia cannot pursue and grow its documentation and advocacy work or continue to be recognised as a voting international working party. With the financial assistance from membership fees we can continue to build our activities and digital forum.

 Join/Renew Here online now for 2015 with Secure Server System

Events, News

End of year talks with Melbourne film and book launch


“Save the date”: Docomomo Victoria end of year talks, drinks + film and book launch.

Monday 15th December, 6.00 pm, Walsh Street  – Boyd Foundation.

We are pleased to support a book launch (‘Gentle Modernist. The nine lives of Anatol Kaganby Simon Reeves)   and a film launch with screening (‘Melbourne International’ by Jacques Sheard).

FILM: Launch and screening: ‘Melbourne International’, Jacques Sheard
Melbourne International’
is a documentary by Melbourne film-maker Jacques Sheard which explores the emergence of ‘International Style’ corporate architecture in the city’s CBD from 1950 to the 1970’s. (Many Docomomo friends and members have also been interviewed in the making of the film.) Jacques Sheard is a Melbourne based filmmaker with a passion for the urban environment and built heritage.

BOOK: Launch also @ 6.00pm  ‘Gentle Modernist: The Nine Lives of Anatol Kagan’, Simon Reeves, Vivid Publishing
Melbourne-based architectural historian and heritage consultant Simon Reeves, who has been associated with DoCoMoMo for several years, had finally completed his book on mid-century modernist architect Anatol Kagan (1913-2009).   Born in Russia and trained in Berlin, Kagan migrated to Australia, via London, in 1939.  Initially based in Melbourne, he worked for various architects and government departments before opening his own architectural office in 1949.   Over the next decade, he undertook a range of commercial, educational and industrial projects, but became best known for his luxurious suburban houses, invariably designed for wealthy members of Melbourne’s thriving post-war Jewish community.  Moving to Sydney in 1960, Kagan was employed in the Department of Public Works, working on the design of schools and hospitals, until his retirement n 1973.  He spent the next three decades in retirement, indulging in a range of pastimes connected with architecture, planning, political activism, gardening, lecturing and translating.
Based on nearly five years of research, drawing from Kagan’s own reminiscences and extensive personal archive, as well as interviews with family, colleagues and clients, Reeves’ book vividly reconstructs the long and multi-layered life journey of the man who has been described as ‘the enigmatic Anatol Kagan’ and ‘the gentle socialist who dreamt of a better world’.

No tickets required – however please RSVP to Hannah Lewi  ( or Docomomo Australia ( There will be a modest donation requested on the night to cover expenses.


Melbourne Intl

Image from ‘Melbourne International’

Events, News

Exhibition/Sydney | Harry Seidler: Painting towards architecture + Seidler Open Houses


Sydney Living Museum

Harry Seidler: Painting Toward Architecture is the first major exhibition on the architect to showcase never-seen-before original artworks. The exhibition is opened at the Museum of Sydney until March 2015 exploring the designs and long-lasting collaborations Harry Seidler forged with the other names in art, architecture, design and engineering.

Through his work with  Frank Stella, Marcel Breuer, Josef Albers, Pier Luigi Nervi, Alexander Calder, Max Dupain and Lin Utzon, Seidler set a precedent for the multidisciplinary team approach – an idea that spawned a creative synthesis.

During the course of his life, he shaped the design of many of our most recognised buildings, including Australia Square, the MLC Centre and the radical Rose Seidler House, which is now one of Sydney Living Museums’ 12 cherished properties.

As well as celebrating his creative contributions, we will chart Seidler’s studies with Walter Gropius, Josef Albers and Marcel Breuer – before delving into his personal story.

Curated by Vladimir Belogolovsky of Intercontinental Curatorial Project and Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon of Sydney Living Museums.

Harry Seidler Open Houses

Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November 2014
To celebrate the exhibition Harry Seidler: Painting Toward Architecture we are opening several privately owned Seidler designed buildings to the general public for one weekend only.

Thanks to the generosity of the building owners, these exclusive tours give you the chance to experience the scale and diversity of Seidler’s work firsthand. Enjoy the drama of the Harry & Penelope Seidler House (1966–67) and the simplicity of the Tuck House (1952). And compare his early work in developing the compound of Rose Seidler House (1948–50), Julian Rose House (1949–50) and the Brian Seidler House (1949–51, formerly called Marcus Seidler House) with the high-rise living of the Cove (2003–04) and the Horizon (1990–98) apartment buildings.


Led by curators, owners and architects, including Penelope Seidler AM and principals at Seidler and Associates, these tours provide insights into how Harry Seidler shaped the way we live in Sydney.

Read the Full Text »