In his introduction to Mongrel Rapture, the first monograph on the polarising work of Australian architectural practice Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM), Charles Jencks identifies ARM as one of a handful of architectural practices internationally that operate in a mold he describes as ‘Radical Post Modernism’. Eschewing notions of good taste and formal purity, ARM opts instead for an ‘architecture of ideas’. Drawing from diverse sources that range across everything from Le Corbusier to Robert Venturi, computer programming to biblical verse, ARM’s architecture has been alternately celebrated and execrated by critics and the public alike. Despite ARM’s radicalism and the attention it garners, however, the practice has also produced some of the most important public buildings in Australia, including the National Museum of Australia, Canberra (2001), Melbourne Recital Centre and MTC Theatre (2008), and the Perth Arena (2013). Mongrel Rapture combines extensive photography and plans of all of ARM’s major buildings with essays from a range of highly regarded critics, including Jencks, Mark C Taylor, Leon van Schaik, Harriet Edquist and others. Part scrapbook, part critical exegesis, like the architecture it documents Mongrel Rapture is both confronting and thought-provoking: a vital publication for anyone with an interest in this practice and Australian architecture’s very particular strain of ‘Radical Post Modernism’.
– Contributions by Charles Jencks and Leon van Schaik
> Ashton Raggatt McDougall, or ARM Architecture, is an architectural firm based in Melbourne and Perth, Australia. The firm was founded in 1988 and has completed internationally renowned design work. ARM’s directors are Stephen Ashton, Howard Raggatt, Ian McDougall and Tony Allen. ARM is known for ‘architectural outspokenness’. Notable projects include the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, the Melbourne Recital Centre and Southbank Theatre in Melbourne and the Marion Cultural Centre in Adelaide. ARM is highly regarded for its heritage and renewal projects including the refurbishment of Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne, the courtyard extensions to the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, RMIT University’s Storey Hall and the redevelopment of Melbourne Central Shopping Centre. ARM was also commissioned to prepare the masterplan for Melbourne Docklands, the Adelaide Riverbank and Elizabeth Quay in Perth. Recent projects include the Perth Arena and Wanangkura Stadium in Port Hedland. A national survey of 600 architects conducted by the Architectural Review Australia found ARM to be considered the most influential architectural office in Australia in the period 1982-2007. ARM is the only Australian firm to win the Australian Institute of Architects’ Premier State Award five times, most recently for the Perth Arena in Western Australia. Their design work has been featured on two Australian postage stamps.
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