Autopsy on a Dream by Tom Oliver Payne

It might be wondered looking at it… whether people’s monuments accurately reflect their natures; whether this sheery mess, this hollow gesture, this smiling shrug of the ideals we trade, is a mirror of its makers. Likely because of its brilliant outside is likely now to bring them universal calumny. And it might be wondered too whether such things never come to pass. Because they require the cooperation of fallible men and the leadership of inspired men who can only finally repel because of their obsession. But, it stands a frosty, glad symbol of whatever you like. Destroyed by cussedness. Betrayed by cowardice. Brought to this quietus by the politics that giveth and the politics that taketh away. Hallelujah, we guess. Hosanna, to whatever’s possible, in the best of all possible climates. She’ll do mate. Or will she?

In 1968 an Aussie in London called John Weiley decided to make a film on the construction of the Sydney Opera House. He pitched his idea to young film maker, David Attenborough, who thought it was an amazing idea. Despite Australian ABC’s opposition, they managed to interview some of most of the key designers and politicians at a point when the entire project was in shambles. The film was super critical of the NSW government and was supportive of Utzon - the architect who had just lost his job on the building. After 2 years of scripting, interviewing, filming and editing, Weiley finished his project and took a trip to Greece. Upon his return to London, he learned that it had been destroyed. There was no trace of the reel and no one would tell him where it went. To this day he doesn’t know what happened, but suspects foul play.

… Almost 45 years later in 2012 an email showed up in Weileys inbox asking if he was the man who made the Opera House film. Collecting archived footage in London, someone had stumbled across a reject reel. It was pieced together and broadcast in 2013.

Here it is in all its glory. One of the best docs I’ve ever seen.

Another year, another trip to Copenhagen by Tom Oliver Payne

Last week I managed to fit in another quick trip over to Copenhagen. There are a million reasons why I love this city so much, but mainly because it's not an aggressive, traffic heavy, overdeveloped city... People are friendly, bike riders are respected and encouraged, the architecture - old and new - is elegant, nightlife is fun, and the Baltic is clean (in the harbour ... amongst the ferries is fine).

There seems to be a simplicity, pragmatism and calmness that I haven't experienced in any other city. It's no wonder it's architects and urban designers are in demand in around the world.

This year my friend Mark and I rode our bikes up north and crossed over into Sweden for a couple of days. Awesome little trip and as always - can't wait to get back.

A few holiday snaps below. :-) 


Launch of a Copenhagen street with Mikael Colville-Andersen by Tom Oliver Payne


I met with urban design legend Mikael Colville-Andersen in 2015 at the launch of a new street in Copenhagen. Here is what he had to say about Istedgade in the neighbourhood of Vesterbro.


East London's Fredd Wigg and John Walsh Towers by Tom Oliver Payne

Often a city's ugliest buildings are its most controversial.

The Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers in London’s were loaded up with missile launchers during the London olympics - making the tenants inside a potential target. Now, at the forefront of the gentrifying east end, it’s likely that the towers will soon be demolished and redeveloped. The tenants, however, still don't know how long until they will be 'decanted'.

The speed at which this city changes constantly amazes me - but unfortunately - affordable housing tenants are too often left in limbo during the development process. I'd love to see these buildings recreated into something beautiful. I'd also love to see space made for existing tenants who have spent decades building a life within the community.

Either way, it looks like these buildings will soon be cleared from London's landscape, or - at least - remade into something new. I made the images below to document their place within amongst the skyline before they're no more.



Demolition has begun: photos from Robin Hood Gardens by Tom Oliver Payne

Despite years of campaigning from heritage groups and architects, the bulldozers have now moved in. The demolition of Robin Hood Gardens is now well underway. The western block is now in partial ruins. The eastern block is still occupied and is set to be razed in the new year. 

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SMH Article: What Sydney can learn from London's approach to brutalist architecture by Tom Oliver Payne

"Sirius, just like Trellick, Balfron and the Barbican in London, illustrates important aspects of the nation's social and cultural history."Last week I had an opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald on brutalist architecture in Sydney and London. 

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From screen to street: the photography project putting imagery in the public eye by Tom Oliver Payne

Photographer Nicholas Gascoine spent his mid 20's in New York City. There, he would work alongside some of the most prominent fashion photographers, often flying to exotic locations. Re-establishing himself back in the sunny country, Nick has embarked upon a new project in a move to take photography away from the private sphere of one’s screen and into the public realm.

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Branded Kings Cross by Tom Oliver Payne

Hanging out in London’s Kings Cross's Granary Square recently, I was eating lunch away from the busy-ness of some of the city’s more hectic neighbourhoods. But I couldn’t help to notice that even in this more relaxed ‘public space’, I was bombarded with branding. I decided to I grab my camera and started shooting.

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