WITH five architect sons, my role as architectural critic proves inescapable. Unfortunately, presented with the latest design, I'm wont to exclaim, ''Why, that looks great, but couldn't you make it just a little less . . . er . . . noticeable?'' To an eager young architect who's been slaving over a hot drawing board to produce The Statement of the Year, this proves faint, if not entirely deceased, praise.
When Romaldo Giurgola of New York came up with a competition design that put Australia's new Parliament House under Capital Hill instead of on it, he not only won my heart with his inspired understatement - but a multimillion-dollar job along with it!
This unrepentant espousal of the Non, be it Architecture or Anything Else, does not imply negativity. Simply a heartfelt plea for a few less ''many inventions'' and a trifle more ''lily-considering.'' Seems to me that this beautiful green planet we're fortunate enough to inhabit is a pretty fantastic, one-of-a-kind, high-class piece of creative merchandise - and the fewer ''statements'' we leave lying around the better!
Just take noise. And preferably as far away as possible. Are you listening, world? Let's hear it for a bit of silence out there. Cut the cacophony, vanquish the video, turn off the transistor, and close tightly that marvel of perpetual motion situated south of the nose.
Remember that old chestnut . . . ''Spot the married couple in the restaurant - they're the ones not talking!''? Truth to tell, they're probably enjoying one of life's most comfortable pastimes, the Non-Conversation. Not to be confused with Non-Speak, the politician's ploy to say nothing with much words, the Non-Conversation says much with no words.
Ever tried a Non-Holiday? That's where you enjoy all the comforts of home because you are home.
Non-fashion is another peg I hung my hat on years ago . . . and it's still there. An unlikely place to hop off the Fashion Bus, it was in the middle of the ocean between Cape Town and Buenos Aires. We fairer sex conspired to mutiny . . . against that age-old tradition of dressing-for-dinner-at-the-Captain's-table (considered to be just one notch below meeting your Maker at the pearly gates) and presented ourselves in simple skirt and blouse. None of us was struck by lightning, the ship didn't founder, and my dressing-up days went metaphorically overboard. Stop to consider that the total number of man-hours (woman-hours) spent contemplating that unanswerable question '' . . . but what will I wear?'' if harnessed into productive channels could well have established a manned (womanned) space station on the moon some 50 years ago. Not to mention a fashion boutique behind every crater.
Which of us hasn't come away from The-Event-of-the-Year (or any other monument to organizational overkill) with the distinct feeling that we've been sold a pup . . . or eaten a cream puff? Conversely which of us has spotted the first flash of red in the new strawberry patch - or sat on the hot sand watching grown-up sons duck-diving back to boyhood in the clear blue water . . . and not felt an irresistible urge to shout, ''What a party! What a glorious, unheralded, shining Non-Event!''