A builder-designer named Shane O'Riley has caused quite a stir with a proposal for an opera house in Perth dreamt up as the city's answer to the Sydney Opera House, the Jørn Utzon-designed masterpiece that helped put Sydney on the map. Though Utzon's work has been compared to "albino turtles mating" and "six nuns in a rugby scrum," such descriptions can only amount to good-natured ribbing for the UNSECO World Heritage Site, which was cited in Utzon's 2003 Pritzker win and later immortalized in Lego. In its short life as a batch of renderings, O'Riley's pretender to architectural greatness has earned such nicknames as "the creature from the Mariana Trench" and a "middle aged man with thinning hair driving a convertible." Luckily, the Perth International Concert Hall is a proposal only in the most hypothetical sense of the word. Design gods willing, it will go down as nothing more than a memorable example of architectural trolling.
What makes O'Riley's proposal impossible to take seriously, aside from the fact that it looks like an amphibious spaghetti monster with a Jesus-Fish grille, is the obvious folly of setting out with the express purpose of designing a city-making architectural landmark. Speaking to ABC, he described it as "the living embodiment" of being "inside a musical instrument, a sculpture, something that is dynamic and inspirational," apparently enough-so to make Perth, which "need[s] to grow up," an "international city of the future." If those sound like stump-speech platitudes, maybe that's why Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett reportedly likes the design, although he takes care to note that he doesn't have "a lazy billion lying around" to make it a reality. Perth residents should consider themselves fortunate he doesn't.
· Perth's opera house: stand by for the giant echidna [The Guardian]
· Perth International Concert Hall [Unique 8 Design Studio]