Since the closure of the Australian Institute of Architects’ bookstore Architext in 2016, architects have been forced to buy their books online.
Adam Haddow, director of SJB Architects (which specialises in high-end residential and hospitality architecture and interior design projects), is changing that.
The Architect’s Bookshop took over Title’s record room on Crown Street (don’t worry, it’s still next door) and is an oasis for architects, students and fans of the craft.
“What I loved about Architext is that it was a window into everything that’s happening in architecture,” says Haddow. “Not just the books, but what’s happening in the industry, who’s hiring, competitions and awards – all of it. There was knowledge – shared knowledge – and a sense of community. We’re hoping to bring that energy back.”
The two-room shopfront has a pared-back, Australian aesthetic. It’s fitted out with Tasmanian oak shelves and integrated seating. It also has the original pressed-metal ceilings, cork floors and washed-eucalypt walls. Haddow says the mirrored back wall pays homage to past tenants, which included a tiler and a stained-glass-window manufacturer.
Haddow is an advocate for the bricks-and-mortar-bookshop experience, something he believes is particularly important for architects. “Architects see themselves as a bit of a tribe ... and I think something like a bookshop can help foster that.”
While the front room acts as a retail space, the back room is designed to be a small-scale community hub where Haddow will host free talks, events and book clubs. The aim is to support smaller, emerging practices as well as study the works of architecture greats such as Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed the Sydney Opera House, and award-winning designer Lyndon Neri of Neri&Hu, an inter-disciplinary architectural design practice based in Shanghai.
“I’m a big believer that architecture can change people’s lives,” says Haddow. “If you’re going to grow a culture of design you have to feed it; you need places and spaces that support this.”
Haddow coaxed the former Architext manager Anne Proudfoot out of “retirement” and brought on board the Museum of Contemporary Culture store’s Meredith Buhler to curate and imbue The Architect’s Bookshop with an unparalleled wealth of knowledge.
“It’s not just about the book and it’s not just about the architecture. It’s about that mix of energy and excitement surrounding that.”
The Architect’s Bookshop
499 Crown Street, Surry Hills
0481 702 902
Mon to Wed, Fri 10am–6pm
Sat & Sun 10m–4pm