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FAT Writer’s House Clapham 1998 FAT BBC Studios Cardiff 2011

There are any number of contemporary architects in whose work we can see this ‘facadism’: sudden discontinuities between front and back, interior volume and exterior surface and different and unmatched materials (Sou Fujimoto, Valerio Olgiati, Hild und K Architekten). But here, to conclude, we just want to look at a ‘homegrown’ (for us) instance of this ‘hetero-architecture’: the Melbourne-based Lyons Architects. Lyons, in fact, has a considerable institutional practice, particularly in hospitals and tertiary education institutes, so the radicality of their practice is even more difficult to achieve than might at first appear. The practice has a thoroughly worked-out philosophy, in which there is support for ‘post-modernism’ and the ‘putting of oddly contrary ideas together’ (Lyons 2012, 2). And even more importantly for our purposes, when they speak of their practice as ‘ugly’, they insist that this is not simply an oppositional gesture but what they call ‘agnostic’ (Lyons 2012, 343). In a sense, they aim for an uncompromised complexity or what they call ‘synthesis without editing’ (Lyons 2012, 2). More technically, what we see in their work is a split between the interior function of their buildings (hospital, university campus, business centre) and its exterior form. But this is not, as even their more sympathetic critics see it, a mere dissembling of their buildings’ underlying function (Lyons 2012, 270). Rather, Lyons’ more profound point is that this exterior introduces a split into the building’s interior purpose.

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