Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Public Interest and Architecture - Contest in Sydney

Discussions about The Public Interest usually revolve around communication and media policy and rightly so, as I have noted on this blog on a number of occasions. In Uprising I made the following points:

As liberal democratic governments around the world stepped away from their
claims to represent “the public interest,” private interests came to dominate
the Internet in a broad ranging social and economic discourse that was and
is new, driven by the forces of unregulated economic interests and entrepreneurial
ideology, largely sponsored by business innovators and their promoters
in political parties of all persuasions. (8)

later in the book I suggested that:

The public interest became a sort of de facto ideological system of meaning
for citizen idealism in the US. (121) 

The application of Public Interest principles was given another helpful iteration recently when Joe Agius the New South Wales President of the Australian Institute of Architects criticised a proposed Sydney casino building  at Barangroo. According to Joe Agius, the casino would amount to "an assault on the public interest."

Why? Because according to Agius, the proposed new buildings were "unconscious of their context." They had no claim to be like the Sydney Opera House, "a public cultural building that is highly responsive to its context."  Sydney Opera House reference

The complete comments from Agius offer a strong statement on this topic. Agius Statement

For those of us who have a stake in theory around this subject, it is reassuring to see ideals from The Public Interest being contested - at least.