YouTube architects cast fresh eyes on Canberra’s often-overlooked building marvels

Damien Larkins 13 August 2021 66
Archmarathon host Andrew Maynard admires a Canberra bus stop

Archimarathon’s passion for design casts fresh eyes on Canberra’s architecture – even our bus shelters. Photo: Archimarathon.

A pair of interstate architects are bringing a unique perspective to Canberra’s grand designs that locals often take for granted.

When’s the last time you stopped and enjoyed the amazing architecture the nation’s capital has on show?

Kevin Hui is founder of Archimarathon and has run architectural tours across the globe for more than 20 years.

“Canberra itself is completely overlooked by most people,” Kevin said.

“I know that most people love to hate Canberra and anyone who says something nice about Canberra ends up front page news.

“But there is some really good stuff there and it’s just forgotten.”

READ ALSO: Sydney and Melbourne buildings set for restoration work

The aim of the Archimarathon, through its tours and YouTube channel, is to explore great architecture and tell people what’s special about it.

Along with award-winning architect Andrew Maynard of Victorian-based Austin Maynard Architects, they run educational tours of unique design.

Over three days in May, Kevin and Andrew toured and filmed some of Canberra’s most iconic locations.

Taking in places like the High Court, the National Portrait Gallery, the Shine Dome – they offer their distinctive view on buildings many Canberrans pass by every day.

“There’s a lot of good stuff to see,” Kevin said.

“Part of Archimarathon is to try to make the public aware of good architecture and why design is important.”

Kevin is mostly behind the camera with Andrew playing the front man.

Their passion for design is clear, as they filmed through the High Court.

They point out aspects from its overall brutalist but transparent structure, down to brass hand rails specially made to fit the broad, chipped-concrete columns and small spaces in between.

“That’s what makes good architecture – it’s not just the big gestures but also all the way through to the finer details,” Kevin said.

“Those things are quite powerful.”

Archimarathon at the Finnish Lutheran Church in Turner, Canberra

The Finnish Lutheran Church in Turner was a highlight. Photo: Archimarathon.

The Finnish Lutheran Church in Turner was a particular stand-out.

“It’s so hard to find any information on it,” Kevin said.

“The inside was pretty special, especially if you look at the original plans and realise it could’ve looked a lot better as well.”

However touring these icons wasn’t all easy.

They’d often have to ask for permission to see parts of these places the general public aren’t allowed to.

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But the Embassy of Finland building presented some obstacles.

The building’s sleek steel and glass design speaks to an idea of transparency.

But the Archimarathon video is currently being reviewed by officials in Helsinki to ensure they aren’t showing too much.

“I’m sure ASIO’s got our files,” Kevin said wryly.

“[Though] they probably looked up our channel and said ‘eh, low risk’.”

Watching them excitedly pore over every architectural detail almost feels like seeing Canberra’s icons for the very first time.

But it’s not just the capital’s grand buildings that caught their eye.

Even structures like the iconic bus shelters, or the National Gallery of Australia’s car park offer sources of fascination for them.

“Canberra has a lot of character and I think that’s giving way to a lot of things that are not necessarily distinctive,” he said.

“It seems to be trying to be everything else that it’s not, rather than embracing its own character.”

READ ALSO: The best architects in Canberra

It’s the more intimate inter-connecting spaces in between the larger designs that Kevin says Canberra can really express itself as it continues to grow.

“New Acton is a great example – how they’ve retrofitted that area and actually done some smaller-scale stuff,” he said.

“Like the Nishi Gallery and the little bike shop.”

“They’ve done the in-between space really well, rather than just big things in paddocks and just space in between.”

Archimarathon host Andrew Maynard at the High Court of Australia

The High Court of Australia – it’s the vibe. Photo: Archimarathon.

Clearly three days wasn’t enough as Kevin is keen to return – and even run tours in the future.

“It was great to explore… specifically looking for things that are unique or forgotten about Canberra,” he said.

You can catch Kevin and Andrew’s tour of Canberra at Archimarathon on Youtube.

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66 Responses to YouTube architects cast fresh eyes on Canberra’s often-overlooked building marvels
Diane Gibson Diane Gibson 4:43 pm 18 Aug 21

Eye catching!

Phil Thomas Phil Thomas 4:41 pm 18 Aug 21

Brendan McIntosh I think a couple of these still have our graffiti handy work on them 🤣

Scott Harrison Scott Harrison 6:52 am 18 Aug 21

& i bet that they’re made from asbestos

Nicole Calvino Nicole Calvino 3:45 pm 17 Aug 21

Love those bus stops

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:46 pm 17 Aug 21

    Nicole Calvino So do I. I want one in my back yard. Table and chairs in it and a chandelier hanging above them.

Rachel Hill Rachel Hill 3:03 pm 17 Aug 21

Been watching them for awhile the way they see Canberra archimarathon that is

Shelley Yin Shelley Yin 1:32 pm 17 Aug 21

Priyanka Acharya tourism ideas for when you can finally visit 💁🏻‍♀️

Angela Lewis Angela Lewis 8:57 pm 16 Aug 21

Kate Seymour this is pretty cool 😎

Michael McGready Michael McGready 7:46 pm 16 Aug 21

It’s simple ...functional .... curvey.... stylistic... yet brilliant!

Jordan Beeston Jordan Beeston 7:12 pm 16 Aug 21

Bus shelter is a misnomer, that isn't big enough to shelter a bus

Matthew Sherwood Matthew Sherwood 12:52 pm 16 Aug 21

Renae - we should watch the videos.

Katherine Boland Katherine Boland 11:16 am 16 Aug 21

I don't live in Canberra but I love seeing the bus shelters, with their Brutalist/Minamilist/Retro aesthetic, whenever I vist my daughter.

Beth Buckingham Beth Buckingham 7:18 am 16 Aug 21

Are they still there! ?they must be well over 50 years old now I remember them from my time travelling to Canberra from Murrumbateman every day for work

    Darren Wheatley Darren Wheatley 10:42 pm 16 Aug 21

    Beth Buckingham i used to climb up on top from the window. Even slept on top of one once

Paul Anderson Paul Anderson 12:18 am 16 Aug 21

Great reference from The Castle in there!

Tara Fatehi Tara Fatehi 11:00 pm 15 Aug 21

Amy Ware you were right about the bus shelters haha

DP Muir DP Muir 10:08 pm 15 Aug 21

These bus shelters are incredibly good for Canberra weather: icy cold & high winds in winter; baking heat in summer. Some have been painted beautifully. They could be fantastic if the paved area around each was landscaped well.

Matt O'Neill Matt O'Neill 6:55 pm 15 Aug 21

Nick Stewart tag Nigel!!

Ben Fredrick Ben Fredrick 6:20 pm 15 Aug 21

They worked, awsome functionality

Gavin Jackson Gavin Jackson 6:02 pm 15 Aug 21

Yeah I’m really enjoying archimarathon! I think I’ll join the Patreon!

    Archimarathon Archimarathon 10:21 pm 17 Aug 21

    Gavin Jackson Thanks Gavin, glad to hear you are enjoying the videos

Michael Smeulders Michael Smeulders 5:55 pm 15 Aug 21

I thought they were bomb shelters. 💣

Shaz Ray Shaz Ray 5:46 pm 15 Aug 21

They’re windy, spider infected, rubbish collectors for crying out loud

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