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Sydney Football Stadium, Moore Park, Sydney

Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, New South Wales Sydney Maritime Museum

Sydney Exhibtion Centre

Blacktown Church

ABC Building, Ultimo

King Street Wharf

Darling Hotel The Star

National Wine Centre

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Professor Philip Sutton Cox AO (born 1 October 1939) is an Australian architect. Professor Cox is the founding partner of COX Architects & Planners, one of the largest architectural practices in Australia.

He commenced his first practice with Ian McKay in 1963, then, in 1967 he founded his own practice, Philip Cox and Associates. The firm has grown to become COX Architects & Planners with 400 personnel. Professor Cox’s work appears throughout Australia and also in South-East Asia, China, the Middle East, South Africa and Europe. Phillip Cox is responsible for much of concept design for each project. He has been described as “epitomising the Sydney School of Architecture” in earlier projects. His work has won him multiple awards, the first being in 1963, one year after graduating from the University of Sydney.

Early years

Philip Sutton Cox was born on 1 October 1939 to Ron and May Cox. He was their second child. He has one older sister Judith Cox. Philip Cox was a 5th generation Cox.

Philip Cox's childhood was comfortable, growing up in Killara on the North Shore in Sydney but the first six years of Philip’s life coincided with World War II as he was born just one month after it had been declared.

Philip attended Gordon Public School where he was filled with apprehension initially. Philip then went on to study at the Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) in North Sydney. In Philip’s first years at shore, art was taught by John Lipscombe. Lipscombe had helped plan the new art block which had been praised by the architect Harry Seidler, who had lectured in the building in July 1952. He decided at quite an early age that he wanted to be an architect, though this was not clear until it was nearly time to leave school. He won a commonwealth scholarship which was to pay his fees.

He studied at the University of Sydney where he was awarded a Bachelor of Architecture between 1957 and 1962, then at the University of New South Wales where he was awarded a Doctor of Science between 1970 and 1975.
Personal life

Philip Cox married Louise, a fellow Architect, in Sydney in April 1972. They have two daughters, Charlotte and Sophie.

Architectural work

Professor Philip Cox designed many of the city's iconic buildings including a number of the buildings used for the Sydney Olympics, the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour and the Sydney Football Stadium. He also designed the Flinders Park tennis centre in Melbourne and Longitude 131 at Uluru. Cox was the architect responsible for initially implementing the American Radburn design for public housing in New South Wales.

In 1981 Philip Cox began work on his weekender home in Palm Beach, Australia. The three-level home is built into the side of the clifftop with stunning views across Broken Bay, Pittwater and the Central Coast.

With his penchant for hosting guests and entertaining, Cox designed his home to indulge his love for cooking, hosting luxurious parties, and accommodate guests. The top deck of the home can easily hold 100 people and guest quarters are separate from the main living areas.


Building a cultural identity
Philip Cox 2008

Do we require an architecture reflecting a national identity in a world fast becoming a global village? Is it inevitable that architecture in Beijing is indistinguishable from that of New York, London or Paris, and should we be concerned in having cultural identity of country and region?

Architecture, like food, is becoming a mixture of cultures, the contents of which are no longer recognisable. In fusion cooking there is always the hint ... a spice, a cooking technique or a sauce. However, for my taste I like the genuine unadulterated, unambiguous and direct.

The delight of vernacular architecture cannot be underestimated; it lies at the root of understanding a nation, a region and its people. That is what makes the world interesting.

We do not necessarily trip around the world for leisure, looking for the sameness of cultures; rather we look at the different ways people have responded to climate, geographic circumstance and society. We need to encourage the differences between us culturally rather than the sameness, for that ultimately will be a bore.

Economic and social forces have derailed the drive towards an Australian vernacular architecture with the advent of mass media communications - particularly with television where we zoom into the most saccharine of the American way of life with honky tonk houses with dysfunctional families lounging around the box grazing on snacks.

Twenty years ago there may have been an excuse of cultural cringe ingrained into the Australian psyche, but today there is greater assuredness, however much of our cities are still disparate areas of visual poverty. The pursuit of an Australian architecture is vital, if not fundamental, to this country if we want to be recognised as a distinct culture rather than a pastiche form of Europe or the United States.

Our cities continue to grow yet they strain under the weight of poor planning and missing infrastructure, which leads to visual chaos. They lack vision and structure, and lack the ability to absorb the dynamics of the 21st century and the changing complexities of our society.

Looking to Asia

The cities of South East Asia are facing many of the same issues and solving the problems more adequately than we are.

Australians have been all too smug to see many parts of South East Asia as a third world, when in fact their solutions for many of their cities are well in advance of ours.

Take Singapore for example. This city has become the hub port of Asia. With the most limited of resources, this tiny island has managed to create a city which is dominated by landscape. It is a city in a garden where trees and flowers dominate the pedestrian environment and where the main route to the city from the airport is dominated by a glorious drive of forest trees and dripping bougainvillea.

They have re-organised the centre of the city, created a central maritime focus, revamped old networks, conserved and restored their heritage.

They have managed to incorporate the most sophisticated of public transportation systems with the MRT line and have built expressways and road systems capable of taking maximum traffic loads. It is a city where "Live, work, play" is a reality.

Kuala Lumpur is not far behind with ambitious schemes - the Iskanda Project in Johor Baru, new harbour towns, universities and technology buildings.

In KL itself, the Malaysians have created one of the great urban spaces with KL Sentral. The twin towers of Caesar Pelli give landmark status to the scheme and an identity to the country as a whole.

Dubai and the Middle East are also countries embarking on urban renewal and aiming for eminence.

The problem with Sydney's spaces

Our greatest city, Sydney, was once daring. One needed to look no further than the Sydney Opera House to see the fulfilment of vision and adventure in a cultural statement that has reverberated around the globe since it was conceived 50 years ago.

Darling Harbour built over 20 years ago was the last grand city and urban gesture that transformed how people related to the city and the harbour. But since then, despite the opportunities of Darling Harbour East, there has been little movement.

The government, as in the minds of many, made the wrong decision in proclaiming a great percentage of the scheme as parklands.

Sydney is not bereft of parks, it has numerous, especially the Royal Botanical Gardens. What Sydney does not have is quality urban space related to the major feature of the city, the harbour.

The time is ripe for the reassessment of Sydney and where it is going.

We need not only to look at the central business areas, but also the lava flows of suburbanism which ooze from the existing town centres into farmlands and bush. The results of the lack of policy result in social dislocation, transportation inadequacies and cultural and educational opportunities of the central areas.

We must first urgently review the way we plan for the future in our cities but also identify the necessary infrastructure and urban renewal projects to sustain our cities into the 21st century.

Too little has been implemented in any significant way for several decades with a real objective of improving and updating our built surrounds.

There is no demonstrable commitment to a definite expression of confidence in our society and in its built environment.

We will not achieve this balance if the common driver in project development is the lowest cost possible. Yet frequently this is how we are establishing our new buildings and places, with design and quality - in the fullest sense - being undermined by the processes making our built surroundings that we employ.

When price alone is the driver, then the victim will not only be architecture and proper urban planning, but perhaps most importantly, the quality of life for its inhabitants.

We have much more to offer.