The Island Seen and Felt

The island seen and felt
Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia / © Russell Charters

I grew up on the world’s largest island. The bald fact slips from consciousness so easily I’m obliged to remind myself now and again. But in an age when a culture examines itself primarily through politics and ideology, perhaps my forgetting something so basic should come as no surprise. Our minds are often elsewhere. The material facts of life, the organic and concrete forces that fashion us, are overlooked as if they’re irrelevant or even mildly embarrassing. Our creaturely existence is registered, measured, discussed, and represented in increasingly abstract terms. Maybe this helps explain how someone like me, who should know better, can forget he’s an islander.

Australia the place is constantly overshadowed by Australia the national idea, Australia the economic enterprise. There’s no denying the power of these conceits. I’ve been shaped by them. But they are hardly the only forces at work. I’m increasingly mindful of the degree to which geography, distance and weather have molded my sensory palate, my imagination and expectations. The island continent has not been mere background. Landscape has exerted a kind of force upon me that is every bit as geological as family. Like many Australians, I feel this tectonic grind — call it a familial ache — most keenly when abroad.

Living in Europe in the 1980s I made the mistake of assuming that what separated me from citizens of the Old World was only language and history, as if I really was the mongrel European transplant of my formal education. But I hadn’t given my own geography sufficient credit. Neither, of course, had those who taught me. It wasn’t simply about what I’d read or not read — my physical response to new places unsettled me. It was as if my body were in rebellion. Outside the great cities and the charming villages of the Old World, I felt that all my wiring was scrambled. Where I had expected to appreciate the monuments and love the natural environment, the reality was entirely the reverse. The immense beauty of many buildings and streetscapes had an immediate and visceral impact, and yet in the natural world, where I am generally most comfortable, I was hesitant. While I was duly impressed by what I saw, I could never connect bodily and emotionally. Being from a flat, dry continent I looked forward to the prospect of soaring alps and thundering rivers, lush valleys and fertile plains, and yet when I actually beheld them I was puzzled by how muted my responses were. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
TITLE | Founder of Architecture Lab
About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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