Deerubbin Conference 2016
NSW, Australia
good architecture and good people all together


The time it took me from my garage at home in Slovenia to the door of my hotel room in Sydney.


Over 150 participans have been welcomed to Australia by Aboriginal elder – uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison.


Almost five years after Glenn Murcutt Masterclass (GMMC) which, for me, proved to be a life changing event, I finally returned to Australia. And it kind of felt like I’d be comin’ home. The occasion, or rather an excuse to go back, was an annual architectural conference Deerubbin 2016 which was to held on a Milson Island about 60 km north of Sydney.

Yet again a trip proved to be well worth it. And to be able to share some of it, here are some of the moments – not in chronological order but rather as it came back to me and not exclusively from the conference itself.


It was spontaneous.
Standing ovations and applause.
It was not that much about architecture. It was just something in his talk that reached deeper, touched our souls and simply made us all stand up to compliment the man for his life path.
Congratulations. And thank you Mr. Gabriel and Ms. Elisabeth Poole for sharing it with us.


Gabriel Poole


Hot & Cold

Frantically turning the valves, I felt like an WW2 u-boat sailor. Left one left two turns, right – half a turn, a bit left again, compensating with the right turn on the right one,…
Whatever I did, there was just no way to make it right. Water purring down the shower on my hands remained either boiling hot or icy cold.
I kind of like the historical patina which one finds in all the countries that once belonged into the Britain Empire. But hey… world has made some progress since then. And some progress has not been that bad. Single handle water mixture valve positioned at side and not below the shower to name just one for example.
Hey guys … please reconsider!




“Would anyone like to ask a question?”
Lene Tranberg just finished an extremely interesting talk about her work and Lindsay looked around the auditorium to whom should he pass a mic.
I certainly would. But none of those deep, high-flying questions about architecture, life, space and everything, we are used to hear on such conferences, came to my mind. As usually, I had more simple ones. Questions like:
‘How you solved a gutter on a house completely cladded in roof tiles?’ and
‘How were you able to pour a concrete on a submerged tip of the pier?’
And so I hesitated long enough to miss my chance.
Stupid me!
Well, next time, I’ll shoot it out right away.


“You have just missed it!”, said Brit.
“What, who, when, where,…?”
“A lizard. At least one meter in length. But it shouldn’t be far. Come, let me show it to you.”
“I,… ugh, uhmmm,… well…”
But she stood up and walked toward the shore.
And I followed. Quite unenthusiastically, making a mental note not to forget to close the doors of the house in the evening.


Troy, just to remind you – you owe me a flight with that bird of yours.
Looking forward to it.




For me it was simple to identify with her statements. Ingerid (Helsing Almaas) was talking about how, through struggle for energy efficiency, we enclose our self more and more and by that detach from the nature around us. Her insightful lecture about the Norwegian architecture and trends, spiced with just a right dose of a humor inserts, was a pure joy to listen to. And although her talk was a critical oversight in general, she somehow managed to preserve a positive attitude throughout.


‘How can you say something like that!!! It is heresy!’
Ingerid was showing the beautifully designed lookouts from where visitors could admire the surrounding nature. All of them architectural marvels we have seen many times across numerous online and offline architectural publications. And she dare claimed that they find them not to be the right approach.
Heresy in did.
But more I contemplated about it, more I understood her point. And more and more I had to agree with her view as well. Although most of the buildings in question being architectural masterpieces, they certainly encourage us to become a passive observer of the surrounding nature rather than encourage us to immerge into it and become part of it ourselves. There was certainly no harm done with this buildings being erected. But for further ones we might want to rethink the brief and find some new answers.
Ingerid – for the record. I agree with you.


Aurland Lookout by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen



Tverrfjellhytta, Norwegian Wild Reindeer Pavilion by Snøhetta


The Tent

Can’t believe I am actually here.
At the most famous tent of the architectural world. The tent which has been featured in prestigious GA Houses magazine.




I can not say that I am a strict follower of the Mies van the Rohe doctrine: “Form follows function.” I rather see a form as one of the features. That premise justifies (and requires) that aesthetic of the building is weighted on the same scale and is of equivalently importance as other pure functional features of the building.
Regardless, I somehow think that the most beautiful forms are most often the ones that prove to best solve other problems as well. Therefore, regardless of his star-architect status, I somehow can not identify with Frank Gehry’s architectural expression. If one can in a way justify the Guggenheim Museum which, without doubt, put the remote city of Bilbao on a world map, that just doesn’t work for most of other of his buildings. And that includes Dr Chau Chak Wing Building is a Business School building of the University of Technology Sydney in Sydney.




Post-it edition.



The Opera

Glistening on the tip of the peninsula of its own, the Sydney Opera is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful buildings on the world. A true architectural masterpiece.
One could argue that, similar to Gehry’s building, the form prevailed over function. Which is true, no doubt. But nevertheless the argument is moot.
Utzon’s ingenious idea, to form a shape of the shells, from the segments of a perfect globe, proved not only to be the easiest way to define it geometrically and the optimal way to address various construction issues. It also enabled a basis for yet another amazing solution. Regarding of the spherical geometry it is covered with only two types of tiles of simple shapes, which form a beautiful pattern. The glossy ones – the squares – multiply, as the pattern progresses and as a result the shells are, toward the top, getting brighter and brighter.


Sydney Opera sketch.


Sydney Opera ceramic tile pattern.



Thanks Emma and Luke for taking me to the famous Bondai Beach in that pretty car of yours 🙂 Looking forward we meet again.




It was coming.
And it looked it will be a big one.
With a corner of my eye I fought a glimpse of Dave on my right, who already turned and was gaining speed. So I quickly turned and started to swim toward the shore. The next moment I felt being lifted and water around me went bubbly and white. Instantly it engulfed me completely and I just stretched. With my torso bent a bit downward I was catapulted forward until a few moments later a wave passed me and I was out again gasping for the air and trying to find where is up and where is down.
Belly surfing is great fun!

Free Tour

I usually despise mass touristic tours and try to avoid them as much as possible.

But during my stroll trough Sydney I find those guys from Free Tour Sydney. Pleasant, nice, friendly, unobtrusive,…
So I decided to give ‘em a chance.
And I haven’t regretted. In two hours and half of walking in s slow pace I have learned a great bit of a Sydney history – official and non-official one.
Thanks Dee. Very well done. Tips well deserved. Keep up the good work.



Springwater House

The man who welcomed us everything one would not expect from the guys name. Mr. Timothy Liauw was Small, Chinese, over 60 (I guess, but it is hard to say really), speaking with an odd accent. But he seemed really happy to have us there and, what is more, sincerely happy for the opportunity to show us his beautiful house. Peter (Stutchbury) arranged our visit just that morning. Since the house is one of the Peter pre famous era I was not quite sure what to expect.
But the trip turned out to be more than worth it. Graciously laying on a steep slope, beside being beautiful, the building is an exemplary case study of a mastery of placing the building into the space. Volumes interweave and blend with the surrounding environment. Simply and functionally designed interior seamlessly connects the indoor with the outdoor.


Springwater House by Peter Stutchbury.


Springwater House – stairs detail.


Women Power

The first architectural conference where female speakers – from hot and cold environments – equaled males.
Kind of cool isn’t it?!
I approve.



Lene, Brit, Chris, Antoine, Julie, Gabriel and Ingerid.
Peter and Richard are missing on this one.



Dear Lindsay… thank you and Su for all the enormous work and effort you put into the organization of the event. And thank you again for all the extras. I am glad I decided to come all the way down under. It was well worth it.


Energetic Lindsay in action.


Lindsay and – a special guest – Glenn… it was so nice meeting you again my dear friends.



“I am so tired, Matej.”
Me and Richard (Leplastrier) were sitting on a grass near Pete’s tent. A crowd that just showed up after the conference, has already partly dissolved but there was still quite some of the passionately chatting at the tent terrace. Night has fallen. Richard was slowly downing into the laying position.
“Should I get you a pillow… or something?”
“Nae! I can sleep like that.”

“I just don’t want to be rude…” he murmured.
“No worries, Richard. It is OK.”
He slowly lowered himself laying his head on his hand and closed his eyes. The other hand went gently touched the ground.
“This ground has never been touched… imagine… never…”, he caressed the grass.

“Do you often sleep under the stars, Matej?”
His voice was a bare whisper now.
I laid down as well.
“Well… not often enough, I guess.” I said, more for myself that to him.

And so we were laying there on the grass, under the stars-filled Australian sky…


Richard Leplastrier in action telling one of his stories which are such a joy to listen to.

Matej Gašperič