On being foreign

Excuse me for a moment’s self indulgence … Travelling back to Australia last week brought into focus the perpetual state of mind in which I now seem to live. Like so many others who leave their homelands, I’m now a foreigner everywhere – dislocated from the blinkered view of familiarity and looking at the everyday (in every place) with a hyperreal perspective. Depending on which emotional chord I choose to strike, this is either a melancholic or liberating way to be.

The last six weeks have involved a number of journeys aside from the physical one to Sydney. I’ve been busily working in Singapore on various writing commissions – I’ve met some prominent Singapore-based architects, absorbed morsels from thirty years’ worth of Singaporean architecture journals, investigated some fresh Asian art, and contemplated high-rise architecture for the tropics. I’ve also been exploring a potential new secondary creative path. (More may be revealed at a future date!)

All of that didn’t leave much time for blogging.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share a couple of architecture-related topics from Sydney. For now, just a few tourist snaps of some aspects of the city and surrounds.

Surely one of Australia’s smallest gardens (in a Surry Hills laneway):

Loved the straightforward vibe of the Organic Bread Bar on South Dowling Street, Paddington. The shop design and food presentation impressed me as being both sensitive to contextual everyday style and confidently unique. Delicious bread, too:

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin designed the suburb of Castlecrag in the 1920s, with sensitivity to the existing topography. They also designed some houses there using local stone, and prescribed the lifestyle of residents. Read more here.

Part of Centennial Park was transformed into a set for the filming of The Great Gatsby. A chunk of house, a tree trunk, a fragment of paving, and a lot of foreign potted plants – it’s astounding that this will end up looking convincing. Woman with pram makes a point about the inadequacy of the fence:

There’s a charming cafe/florist up north at Palm Beach called The Boathouse, with an impressive variety of uses for crayfish pots:

The everyday Sydney spaces of those who can afford them – the boardwalk near Bronte, and Rushcutters Bay:

The magnitude of the Sydney Markets at Homebush was as dizzying as the hideous drive along Parramatta Road to get there. Worth it for the bounty of cheap local produce:

Note to Sydney: the most enjoyable street art is usually not the kind sponsored by councils. Note to Singapore: neither is it the kind sponsored by paint companies …

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