World's best architects descend on to Melbourne ground

8 years ago
7 minutes

Leading property developer, UEM Sunrise today hosted its inaugural architecture symposium in Melbourne featuring presentations and masterclasses from world renowned architects: Professor Philip Cox AO, Founder of the Australian-based Cox Architecture; Mr. Gianluca Racana, Director of London-based Zaha Hadid Architects; Mr. Callum Fraser, Co-Founder of the Australian-based Elenberg Fraser; and Ms. Astrid Piber, Partner of UNStudio from Amsterdam. 

They were joined by Mr. Westmoreland Palon, Consul General of Malaysia in Melbourne, and Mr. Raymond Cheah, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial of UEM Sunrise who also delivered the opening address on behalf of UEM Sunrise.

More than 250 participants attended the highly-anticipated event at Deakin Edge in Federation Square, including undergraduates and architecture students from Melbourne University, RMIT, Monash University, LaTrobe University, Deakin University and other leading educational institutions; architects and other professionals; design aficionados; industry players and media representatives. 

The symposium provided an opportunity for participants to gain insights into the global evolution of architectural luxury and design, with presentations by the four internationally acclaimed architects. 

Entitled ‘Luxury: Allusion. Illusion. Elusion.’, each presentation at the symposium explored the concept of luxury, how it has evolved over time, and challenges the notion of luxury in today’s context of materialism and commodity.

The symposium was UEM Sunrise’s first community initiative in Australia, and is part of the company’s long-term commitment to the city of Melbourne.

The event was organised by UEM Sunrise to provide a platform for the Melbourne design community to learn, understand and emulate the knowledge and insights of the speakers.

Television design judge and Home Beautiful magazine Editor-in-Chief Ms. Wendy Moore moderated the event, saying: “The concept of luxury design is constantly evolving, with new technology, innovation and the unique Australian lifestyle all playing their role in driving the change.

It is incredibly inspiring to learn more about the future of luxury design from some of the world’s most renowned architects, and discover how emerging trends from all over the globe will manifest in the new Australian style.”

Mr. Raymond Cheah, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial of UEM Sunrise said in his opening address: “The concept of luxury has always been an elusive one.  Can luxury really be defined or is it always alluded to as being a measure of its worth, or is the entire notion of luxury a pure illusion?  As a lifestyle developer, UEM Sunrise constantly seeks to deliver the most memorable product and experience to our buyers and what we have come to realise is that the perception of luxury living have seemed to evolve from an extrinsic, material definition to a more intrinsic, experiential one. 

There is a veritable shift away from sheer opulence and extravagance towards authenticity, personalisation and unique experiences.”

He added: “In the world of property where repetition equates to time and cost economy, how has the concept of luxury influenced the design of today's living spaces?  How can an industry that thrives on the benefit of modularity catch up to the need for a personalised approach to home owners, creating and maintaining a long-lasting experience for the well-heeled and worldly-wise?”

“I hope that the symposium will inspire the audience today to set new benchmarks in the industry, achieve monumental things together, and to ultimately make our living spaces much more remarkable.”

Mr. Raymond Cheah who also presented a paper entitled ‘Luxury: Allusion. Illusion. Elusion’ further remarked on the objective of organising the symposium: “Through the creation of a knowledge forum like this, the industry players will be able to share their creative thinking and insights with the symposium attendees, to provide inspiration for budding architects and designers and provide them access to mentors with whom they would not normally have contact.

The success of our two launched developments, Aurora Melbourne Central and Conservatory, certainly proves the market is looking for high quality product and spaces, designed to reflect the luxurious lifestyle its occupants aspire to achieve.”

Ms. Astrid Piber of Amsterdam-based UN Studio, presented a paper entitled ‘Luxury Now?’ commented: “What is luxury in ones living environment is subject to personal preferences and lifestyle, and it has been evolving. During every epoch the values seem to shift: think about high-quality craftsmanship for art-deco environments versus technological sophistication for our 'smart' homes.

We must acknowledge the shift from a crafted definition of luxury to an experience-driven one. Smart technologies allow for incorporation of flexibility, sustainability and automation, but individuality and adaptation of ones' home to different lifestyles is a personal luxury nowadays. With our high-pressure lifestyles, luxury is as simple as time itself. 

The experience of the everyday through natural conditions that vary throughout a day, a month or a year, is very personal. By design we can incorporate these aspects into the overall concept of living."

Professor Philip Cox AO of COX Architecture, who gave a talk on ‘Sumptuousness in the Urban Environment’ said: “Everyone aspires for improvement, trading up, aspiring to a better place, celebrating sumptuousness, comfort, elegance and style. Within the urban environment especially in CBD, towers do not always aspire to this, for many of the buildings developed have a degree of sameness, albeit they are tall, well positioned, have address and are built of fine materials.  Sumptuousness and luxury go beyond that. It means the satisfaction of the human spirit, visually, aesthetically, uniqueness, style and function. Luxury means the elevation of spirit, the excitement of being there, the sense of euphoria of a designed space. Luxury can be small or large. It depends on uniqueness.”

Founding partner of Melbourne-based Elenberg Fraser, Mr. Callum Fraser, presented a paper entitled ‘Permissive Architecture – New Luxury in Architecture Beyond Lifestyle’, and his take on luxury is an aspirational one.

“While basic products aim to satisfy a need and branded products exist to fulfill a desire, the role of luxury is not to respond to an individuals needs or desires, but to their dreams.  The expectation of a luxury brand is to not just deliver on expectation, but to far exceed it, and to create a lasting memory of unparalleled attention, excellence and uniqueness,” said Mr. Fraser.

Mr. Gianluca Racana of Zaha Hadid Architects ended the symposium with a presentation entitled ‘New Parameters of Luxury’, where he articulated: “The new perception of luxury is shifting from acquiring things to acquiring experiences, less focused on material owing and more on personal quality of life. Luxury, in its new context, is the enjoyment of the best in life, the experience of beauty, knowledge, well-being in an environment with a strong sense of place and inspiring contemporary design and technology.”