“WE DON’T HAVE A PANDEMIC every century and it would be wise to learn from it,” says Roger Wood, who is founding principal of longstanding Victorian practice Wood Marsh Architecture with partner Randal Marsh. Wood is in a reflective mood about the past year. “I realised that going to the office at 8.30am and leaving at 6.30pm was some kind of Dickensian obligation on my behalf. I think we now work smarter and are more flexible,” he says. This shift is balanced with the knowledge that architecture is a craft-based discipline and the need remains to nurture and mentor recent graduate students coming into the practice.
While renowned for their singular houses, Wood Marsh have always played a major role in delivering cultural, civic and community-based projects that have shaped both the city of Melbourne and regional Victoria alike. ACCA, the landmark Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (1998), is a faceted structure in Corten steel which is as much sculptural object as building. It is urban, gutsy and raw, referencing the warehouses and foundries of the original site while clearly communicating that it is a place of experimentation and a laboratory for ideas.
As with the Gottlieb House (1990) before it, a mute concrete edifice that some neighbours thought to be a squash court in the making, ACCA embodies several of the enduring tropes of Wood Marsh that play out in a variety of innovative ways over their nearly 40 years of working together.
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