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Mongrel Rapture is the first major monograph on Ashton Raggatt McDougall, one of the most significant architectural practices in Australia. ARM’s architecture draws from a diverse territory of inspiration, including Michelangelo and Robert Venturi, computer programming and biblical verse. It has been celebrated—and occasionally execrated—by critics and the public alike, yet, despite the work’s capacity to polarise, the practice has produced some of Australia’s most significant buildings. These include the National Museum of Australia, Canberra (2001), Melbourne Recital Centre and Melbourne Theatre Company Southbank Theatre (2008), Perth Arena (2012) and the Barak Building at Swanston Square (2015), which puts the portrait of Wurundjeri Elder William Barak at the northern tip of Melbourne’s civic axis. Mongrel Rapture is a book of many parts, including an extensive selection of architectural drawings, a rich photographic portfolio of key projects, and invited contributions from writers, critics and architects from around the world.It also includes a substantial body of texts on the practice itself, most importantly through a series of compelling texts by ARM directors Ian McDougall and Howard Raggatt. These are revealing and, at times, confronting. Independent contributors include Charles Jencks, Mark C Taylor, Leon van Schaik, Harriet Edquist, Conrad Hamann, Vivian Mitsogianni, John Macarthur and Naomi Stead. This exquisite volume, designed by renowned Australian graphic artist Stuart Geddes, is an illuminated manuscript every bit as provocative and puzzling as ARM’s buildings. It contains dynamic QR codes that point to a wealth of exclusive digital material beyond the book’s pages, including drawings of all of ARM’s major public buildings, conceptual animations and audio material. Ranting, funny, and reflective in turn, Mongrel Rapture is many books in one binding. It radically rethinks what an architecture publication can be.
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