Architectural Review Asia Pacific

Simon Sellars Architecture & urbanism

From 2011 to 2012, I was the managing editor of Architectural Review Asia Pacific. AR is one of Australia’s top two architecture publications, the other being Architecture Australia.

Previously, I was employed as a researcher at RMIT University’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory. At RMIT, I began to expand my longstanding focus on dystopian literature into a broader exploration of urbanism and architecture. J.G. Ballard was of course a touchstone, with his depictions of societal breakdown set against the backdrop of sterile and impersonal cityscapes, as was the work of speculative architects such as Fran├žois Roche.

At AR, I introduced a focus on fictional representations of architecture in theory, film, television and literature. I also began to interrogate the tension between architects and urbanists. Alongside established architecture journalists, I commissioned writing from novelists Will Wiles and Christopher Brown, cultural theorists McKenzie Wark, Mark Dery and Owen Hatherley, film critic Adrian Martin and philosopher Matteo Pasquinelli.

This was quite a different approach to previous incarnations of the magazine. I can say it was appreciated by many readers, and also the architects whose work appeared in our pages, but for others it was a bridge too far. One reader emailed me semi-serious death threats and I heard whispers that a famous architect wanted to sue me for a satirical piece I’d published that queried his public image.

In my second year, working with publisher Mat Ward, I rebranded AR. I widened the magazine’s remit to cover architecture and urbanism from the Asia Pacific region, with Australia as the focus, rather than Australian architecture exclusively. With that came a complete redesign. I collaborated with gun designers Sabine Selbach and Michael Bojkowski, and changed the magazine’s name to Architectural Review Asia Pacific. These changes strengthened the quality and depth of the magazine, giving it wider international exposure and a greater distribution base, while situating Australian architecture within its immediate geographical environment.

I commissioned and edited seven issues of the magazine. Details are below, including editorials and contents for each.

AR 122 (Oct 2011):
The Residential Issue
AR 125 (Jun/Jul 2012):
Architecture and the Arts
AR 128 (Summer 2012/13):
New Civic Realms
AR 122 (Dec 2011):
The Resilient City
AR 126 (Aug/Sep 2012):
Architecture and Infrastructure

AR 124 (Mar/Apr 2012):
Architecture and the Body
AR 127 (Oct/Nov 2012):
The Residential Issue