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Canberra Times letters debate

There has been an interesting to and fro in the letters section of the Canberra Times in the past few weeks. As it is getting a bit long, we thought it might be worth putting them all together here.

Council’s all-time low hits an architectural wonder

February 8, 2012

The ACT Heritage Council has hit an all-time low by supporting the demolition of the wonderful Enrico Taglietti’s Flynn Primary School (”Flynn’s school’s cultural significance irrelevant: heritage body”, February 7, p3).

This is a building that would be treasured in any city of the world by those who love exciting and original architecture.

The Australian Institute of Architects strongly supports the preservation of this building.
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Taglietti is one of the recipients of the profession’s highest honour, the AIA gold medal. The AIA has placed the school on its register of significant 20th century architecture.

The Flynn school has considerable heritage value on the basis alone that this city has very few public building with true architectural integrity. We should treasure every one. In Barcelona, with all its wonderful Romanesque, Gothic and Moderista buildings, it was still considered essential to preserve and restore a 1930s art deco cinema.

We just ripped down our art deco cinema in Manuka and replaced it with the monstrosity that is currently in place. That was a long time ago, but it seems things have not changed, and unfortunately we cannot rely on the ACT Heritage Council.

Michael Coghlan, Campbell

Of course, heritage is predominantly a community issue. Apart from some esoteric but nonetheless important places and items, decisions on the preservation/restoration/reconstruction/adaptive re-use etc of most items from our distant and recent pasts must be driven by community concern. The community’s voice on ”cultural significance” must be heeded, and community concern needs to be, and usually is, bona fide, open and readily demonstrable. Look at the fights for the preservation of picture palace-type theatres across the world, for example.

Sadly, heritage legislation and institutionalised assessment are often more impediments than safeguards.

The ACT Government’s treatment of the Flynn Primary School continues to be reprehensible. Talented people, such as its architect Enrico Taglietti, who designs good things for Canberra, contribute greatly to our cultural environment.

We shouldn’t expect to see their works summarily knocked over by barbarians.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Flynn heritage

February 13, 2012

It is hard to believe that an agency in charge of protecting the architectural heritage of this city, supports the demolition of the Flynn Primary School, a truly remarkable building of singular character belonging to a significant architectural period (Letters, February 9).

The preservation of heritage cannot simply be regulated by the age of a building, but by a serious evaluation of its cultural value for a community through its architectural design.
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Schools are often preserved through history, and there is a good reason for it. The work of Enrico Taglietti is important in our community, which is another good reason for preserving this building.

Romaldo Giurgola, Kingston

Heritage madness

February 13, 2012

The architecturally significant Flynn Primary School cannot obtain a heritage listing, but we can’t enjoy the Sculpture Garden restaurant at night because the present tent is 25-years-old and is thus heritage-listed. Yes it’s madness but is there a method?

Ros Drover, Kaleen

Not under threat

February 21, 2012

Flynn School is not under any threat of demolition and it is hard to understand where these rumours of demolition have come from and why they are being incorrectly perpetuated. (Letters, February 9 and 14).

The ACT government has undertaken sensitive refurbishment of the building following consultation with the original architect, Enrico Taglietti, who has given his approval to the new work. The government should be applauded for returning this public asset to community-educational uses.

Dianne Firth, ACT Heritage Council, Turner.

Protection not guaranteed

February 23, 2012

Whether or not the Flynn Primary School is to be immediately demolished has nothing to do with giving this iconic building heritage recognition and therefore a large degree of protection into the future (Dianne Firth, Letters, February 21 ). Non-recognition by the Heritage Council gives a green light to developers and you can be sure that in time they will take advantage of that no matter what the current government’s undertakings may be. It should also be noted that Enrico Taglietti is a party to the Supreme Court action against the decision of the Heritage Council.

Michael Coghlan, Campbell

Images from Flynn

Angles on the textured concrete walls


Flynn grounds

Landscape setting & grounds

Enrico Taglietti visting the school he designed

History and design

Memorial to John Flynn

Memorial to John Flynn