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The Australian Ugliness

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  10 reviews
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 rallied against Australia's promotion of ornament, decorative approach to design and slavish imitation of all things American.

'The basis of the Australian ugliness,' he wr
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 29th 2010 by Penguin Books Australia Ltd
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3.92  · 
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 ·  129 ratings  ·  10 reviews

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Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An Australian classic. Sadly as relevant today as when it was first published.
Surprising or depressing, depending upon your perspective, fifty years after its first publication Robin Boyd’s Australian Ugliness still resonates strongly as the base upon which much of urban Australia is built. While the current Victorian Government undertakes public consultation for the next phase of urban planning, Melbourne councils are under the same pressures from small but articulate groups hoping to influence taste and sensibility in planning and construction matters. Personally I don’ ...more
Stephen Coates
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Published in 1961, this book recorded Boyd’s observations of the development of architecture in Australia from the perspective of an architect with considerable awareness of and insight into the evolution of built architecture and architectural theory and found the result less than satisfactory. He takes particular issue with what he terms “Featurism", veneers of pretention and ostentation which he described as giving the desired effect without anyone having to work Saturdays to get the whole th ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Cruel but kind — a precise description of one element in the pervasive ambivalence of the national character. Here also are vitality, energy, strength and optimism in one's own ability, yet indolence, carelessness, the "she'll do, mate" attitude to the job to be done. Here is insistence on the freedom of the individual, yet resigned acceptance of social restrictions and censorship narrower than in almost any other democratic country in the world. Here is love of justice and devotion to law and ...more
Simon Brown
I'm glad I hung in there and finished it as it was a bit tedious compared to "Australia's Home" which was a great and rewarding read. The Australian Ugliness was a great idea as a statement on architectural history in Australia and Robin's pet hate "featurism" and eventually proved a worthwhile read. However as great a writer the tragically short lived architect became, this book of 'isms' and grindingly slow argument on his topic may well have been a better as a short thesis rather than a novel ...more
I'm sorry, Robin Boyd! I tried to get all up with your theory but I just can't agree with it. And besides that, I'm on holiday and don't got time for your poetic voice about architecture. Maybe another time I will re-address this book but just too intense! Soz buddy.
James Raynes
I only have a fairly casual interest in architecture, but what's so amazing is the the insights Boyd has into Australian identity. They still hold true half a century later, and the book's worth a read for that in itself.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting something less technical and so was pleasantly surprised by what I learnt. A real eye-opener of a book. I cannot walk down the street of my city (Melbourne) without Boyd's perspective shaping my perception of the architecture, fashions and trends all around me.
Nick Harris
Cruel but kind, features over function and form
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The universal visual art: the art of shaping the human environment, is an intellectual, ethical,and emotional exercise as well as a mean of expression. It involves the strange sort of possessive love with which people have always regarded their shelters. The Australian ugliness begins with fear of reality, denial of the need for the everyday environment to reflect the heart of the human problem, satisfaction with veneer and cosmetic effects. It ends in betrayal of the element of love and a chil ...more
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