Is ARM’s work schizophrenic? Rory Hyde at the 2017 Steve Ashton Address

Our old friend Rory Hyde last week delivered the second annual Steve Ashton Address. Rory is an inspirational writer and thinker on architecture who cut his teeth at ARM and is now Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at the V&A Museum.

In our poppy-red auditorium at the Shrine of Remembrance, Rory reflected on when he’d interviewed Steve about the essential business side of delivering projects.

“I described ARM’s work as ‘schizophrenic’, in that ‘on the one hand it’s making these big gestures, and on the other hand, its very conscious that if the building leaks the whole idea is undone’,” Rory said. “Steve replied: ‘I wouldn’t call it schizophrenia, they are all just givens’.”

“Steve’s schizophrenia answer is one of the best descriptions of architecture out there I reckon. It’s grounded in reality, and then points toward the indescribable. It’s firmness, commodity and delight for the age of project managers and value engineering.”

—Rory Hyde

Steve Ashton was considered a national expert in procurement models for building projects.

“Steve was engaged in what Wouter Vanstiphout, in [my book] Future Practice, describes as architecture’s ‘dark matter’,” Rory said. “It’s the 95% of the universe that you can’t see, but which makes the 5% you can see possible.”

Rory’s talk explored dark matter aspects of projects worldwide including Marcus Westbury’s transformation of inner Newcastle (NSW), ZUS’s crowdfunded yellow Luchtsingel pedestrian bridge in Rotterdam, and Wikihouse’s downloadable DIY house drawings.

Future Practice by Rory Hyde was published in 2013 by Routledge.

Our poppy-red auditorium at the Shrine of Remembrance has peace-crane wall panels.

ARM founding director Steve Ashton passed away last year and received an AM this year.

*Photos by Aaron Poupard