The Australian Ugliness: Text Classics

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Text Publishing Company, Apr 26, 2012 - Architecture - 304 pages

Fifty years after its first publication, Robin Boyd’s bestselling The Australian Ugliness remains the definitive statement on how we live and think in the environments we create for ourselves. In it Boyd railed against Australia’s promotion of ornament, decorative approach to design and slavish imitation of all things American.

‘The basis of the Australian ugliness,’ he wrote, ‘is an unwillingness to be committed on the level of ideas. In all the arts of living, in the shaping of all her artefacts, as in politics, Australia shuffles about vigorously in the middle—as she estimates the middle—of the road, picking up disconnected ideas wherever she finds them.’

Boyd was a fierce critic, and an advocate of good design. He understood the significance of the connection between people and their dwellings, and argued passionately for a national architecture forged from a genuine Australian identity. His concerns are as important now, in an era of sustainability, suburban sprawl and inner-city redevelopment, as they were half a century ago.

Caustic and brilliant, The Australian Ugliness is a masterpiece that enables us to see our surroundings with fresh eyes.

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The Australian Ugliness

User Review  - Thorpe-Bowker and Contributors - Books+Publishing

On the 50th anniversary of its initial publication, Robin Boyd's invective on Australian architecture remains strikingly relevant. The Australian Ugliness is a treatise on the disgrace of our urban ... Read full review

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A turgid tome that doesn’t stand the test of time. Boyd constantly looks down his nose speculating why the Australian architectural vernacular is dominated by what he terms ‘feauturism’. Boyd glosses over the heavy lifting from Australia’s pioneers of mordenistic design that enabled his generation to connect with a new audience. The premise of Boyd’s book is that Australians were (are) obsessed with the novelty value of all things American. The fact that Australia has grown from a working class society through war and the Great Depression is lost on Boyd who might of learnt something by reading Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The book does however make some very valid observations, it’s a shame an Editor wasn’t employed, it could have reduced this book to a 500 word essay. 

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About the author (2012)

Robin Boyd (1919–71) is arguably Australia’s most influential architect. He was an idealist, a visionary, who believed that good design would improve the quality of people’s lives. A tireless public educator and outspoken social commentator, he designed more than two hundred buildings and wrote such classics as The Puzzle of Architecture and Australia’s Home.

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