Paul McGillick looks back on the life and career of Australian architect Col Madigan, who passed away on 17 September.
September 19th, 2011
With the death of Col Madigan on 17 September at the age of 90, Australia has lost another one of the great post-War architects who did so much to shape the character of our built heritage.
Waringah Shire Council House
If he wasn’t prolific, he never worked on anything run-of-the-mill, content simply with a clutch of masterpieces – the National Gallery of Australia (1982), the High Court (1972), the Warringah Shire Civic Centre (1973) and the Dee Why Library (1966) which won the Sulman Prize. He himself was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 1981.
Born in Inverell in NSW, Col was the son of an architect, learning the business from the ground up at his father’s side. He was already a fine draftsman when he enrolled for architecture at East Sydney Technical College in 1937. During the War he served in the navy and was one of the few survivors of the sinking of HMAS Armidale in 1942, turning the experience into a book in collaboration with artist, Jan Senbergs.
A celebration of the National Gallery of Australia is due for publication later this year. In her Foreword to the book, Professor Jennifer Taylor comments that “for Madigan a building is not just material and space; rather, it is a philosophic statement of belief and intent”.
National Gallery of Australia
It was this commitment to meaning in architecture which distinguished Col’s work (and the brilliant teams he assembled at Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs), often accompanied by a fiery refusal to compromise. The Canberra buildings, for example, were designed to be nothing less than an embodiment of the values and ideals of a young nation.
For Col, a building didn’t just have a utilitarian function, it also had a spiritual function and he angrily lamented the dominance of the profit motive which he said in an address to the Architecture Foundation in 2001 “denies the very real luxuries, like visual health, beauty and permanence which man as a consumer desires more than anything else”.
Col Madigan portrait image by Anthony Browell. Architecture photography courtesy of Max Dupain & Associates.
Col Madigan is Indesign’s Luminary in Issue 46 (Sep-Nov 2011) of Indesign magazine.
Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!
STEEL PROFILE®#133 is hot off the press. This year’s issue is packed full of a variety of stunning projects and insightful architect profiles from across the country.
Sub-Zero and Wolf’s prestigious Kitchen Design Contest (KDC) has celebrated the very best in kitchen innovation and aesthetics for three decades now. Recognising premier kitchen design professionals from around the globe, the KDC facilitates innovation, style and functionality that pushes boundaries.
As MillerKnoll offers a deep-dive into some of the company’s ESG initiatives with the recently released 2023 Better World Report, we take a closer look at their unwavering commitment to transformative design – and the belief that with great design comes great responsibility.
Channelling the enchanting ambience of the Caffè Greco in Rome, Budapest’s historic Gerbeaud, and Grossi Florentino in Melbourne, Ross Didier’s new collection evokes the designer’s affinity for café experience, while delivering refined seating for contemporary hospitality interiors.
The latest addition to Mieleâ€™s range, the DA 6000 W Cabrio Wall DÃ©cor Rangehood is a fusion of state-of-the art performance and innovative design.
Research led design from Herman Miller again sets a new benchmark in smart office furnishings
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
Join us for a Herman Miller series that looks at how architects and designers use their most iconic designs to create beautiful and functional office spaces
Relive the best moments and catch up on the awards and winners celebrated at the 2023 INDE.Awards’ night of nights.
The Sub-Zero Wolf showrooms in Sydney and Melbourne provide a creative experience unlike any other. Now showcasing all-new product ranges, the showrooms present a unique perspective on the future of kitchens, homes and lifestyles.