There’s No Place Like Holmes

Following is the front cover for my next book, There’s No Place Like Holmes: Exploring Sense of Place Through the Sherlock Holmes Stories and the text for the back cover. It will be published in March 2008.

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‘Derham Groves has had the brilliant idea of considering architecture as a detective story. It is a fascinating thought—that buildings might be crime scenes: in both bodies go missing—and Groves unfolds it in fascinating ways. If modern architecture has notoriously failed to make places where people can live, perhaps it is time architecture was put on trial. If so, the designs of its rooms are vital clues! Derham Groves is on the trail of a particular lost body: the home of Sherlock Holmes. He has students design buildings constructed like brilliant deductions. He designs a Sherlock Holmes Centre where the great man is absent but clues to his presence lie everywhere. An absorbing meditation on the way we read architecture, an engaging challenge to designers and the stories they tell, There’s No Place Like Holmes possesses the rare quality of making what seemed cryptic in architecture elementary, and the obvious once again filled with enchantment.’
Paul Carter, Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne.

‘Everybody knows that architecture is a cover job for the messy realities of everyday life. Yet it remains the most taken for granted and everyday of the arts—nobody suspects the architect. The world of crime fiction with its labyrinthine plots and dead ends, its shared interest in ‘place’ and ‘character’, is used here to preface a kind of forensic architectural theory. Buildings tell stories and stories produce buildings. This is an innovative and insightful book, as much about education as architecture. Just as Holmes used a magnifying glass decode the clues to crime, Groves uses Holmes as a lens onto the role of architecture in the everyday and in the construction of the sense of place.’
Kim Dovey, Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, University of Melbourne.

Danish de Luxe

Danish de Luxe was a furniture company founded by Neville Askanasy, John Westacott and Borg Gjorstvang, which operated in Melbourne, Australia, between the late 1950s and the early 1990s. They made some wonderfully comfortable and stylish chairs, including the Adeena chair (pictured), which was the company’s version of an Eames Lounge chair. Recently I purchased a pair of these chairs. As well as manufacturing furniture for domestic consumption, both in Australia and overseas, Danish de Luxe also manufactured chairs for the Australian Pavilion at EXPO 67 in Montreal, the Australian Academy of Science building in Canberra, and the Sydney Opera House. Danish de Luxe deserves more credit and recognition than they have received.
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Collins Architects and Builders Diary 1961

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Whenever I come across a used autograph book, diary or journal going cheap, I usually buy it. This Collins Architects and Builders Diary of 1961 appears to have belonged to a delivery van driver, whose run took in the NSW towns of Auburn, Blacktown, Blackheath, Blaxland, Camellia, Concord, Chullora, Faulconbridge, Homebush, Katoomba, Mascot, Medlow Bath, Penrith, Pyrmont, Revesby, Rosehill, Rozelle, St Marys, Sidcombe, Springwood, Sydney, Villawood, and Woodford. On some days he’d drive delivery van FYT 084 and on others FYM 479.

Harry’s Bow Ties

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While architect Harry Seidler’s impressive body of work cannot be denied, I must confess to having been more interested in his trademark bow ties than his buildings. I own about 250 vintage clip-on bow ties, and in 1999 I wrote him a letter asking if he would donate one of his to my collection. ‘Sorry to disappoint you,’ he indignantly replied. ‘I have never worn, nor will I ever wear, a “clip-on” bow tie! I only ever use “tie yourself” ties exclusively.’