Studio 35

Reimagine Pentridge

Qinghua Guo & Ming Wu

This studio is available to students enrolled in ABPL90142 Studio C, ABPL90143 Studio D, and ABPL90115 Studio E.

Studio Description

Architecture is a product of society. Yet architecture also produces new social relationships, reinvents social/cultural identity, and creates new knowledge.

The Victorian Heritage Register notes ‘the former HM Prison Pentridge is of historical and social significance as the largest prison complex constructed in Victoria in the nineteenth century, which operated as the central establishment in the wider prison system from the 1860s’. The Pentridge Prison was decommissioned in 1997. Shayher Group purchased the northern site in 2013 and aims to transform and reposition Pentridge as a vital hub of creativity and commerce interlinked with residential opportunities.

This Studio will reimagine the spatial, programmatic and technical demands and social/cultural meaning of the former Pentridge Prison during its redevelopment into a ‘hub of creativity and commerce’. When negotiating the restrictions and limitations imposed by the contextual realities of Pentridge, and exploring its new possibilities, the Studio aims to open up opportunities for innovation in architectural conservation, adaptive reuse, and placemaking.

Studio Outcomes

You will need to identify the key contextual factors of the project, such as social-economic and cultural conditions, legislative requirements, site conditions and constraints, social and programmatic demands. You will conduct precedent studies to build up your knowledge of the design problems under interrogation. You will invent your own brief that could respond to those key contextual factors.

You will need to critically address the following questions in your projects. How could the heritage value of Pentridge be preserved? In what ways could the place be transformed? What kind of new relationship of spaces and social activities would be facilitated? In what ways could the past be acknowledged? What would the new identity stand for?

While addressing these questions in a specific context, you will be encouraged to contemplate the nature of the status quo in architectural conservation, adaptive reuse, and placemaking, and to participate in the shaping of new knowledge.

Studio Leaders

Professor Qinghua Guo teaches architectural conservation, architectural design related to heritage and conservation and craft in traditional Asian architecture, design-orientated in nature. The overarching goal in her teaching is disciplinary through an integrated approach of history, conservation and design. Her expertise is developmental history, structural typology and building technology. Her research interest is design history, building culture and structural study to explore architectural-cultural exchanges across the inner Asia region.

Dr Ming Wu is a Co-Founder and Design Director at Studio W Architects. He gained his doctorate at the University of Melbourne where he has been involved in teaching architectural history, theory and design since 2007. His research centers on spatial analysis, socio-spatial relationships, architecture as a social construct, and the politics of urban space.

Readings & References

Modern Prison

  • Foucault, M. (1977) ‘Panopticism’, in Discipline and Punish, trans. A. Sheridan, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 195-228.
  • Evans, R. (1982) ‘The Model Prison’, in The Fabrication of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 346-387.


  • Walker, M. and Marquis-Kyle, P. (2004) Illustrated Burra Charter, Burwood, Vic.: Australia ICOMOS.


  • Harvey, D. (2001) ‘The art of rent: globalization and the commodification of culture’, in Spaces of Capital, New York: Routledge, pp. 394-411.
  • Dovey, K. (2008) ‘Representation’, in Framing Places, London: Routledge, pp.33-44.
  • Dovey, K. (2010) ‘Place as Assemblage’, in Becoming Places, London: Routledge, pp.13-30.

Space and Uses/Events/Program

  • Hillier, B. and Hanson, J. (1984), ‘Preface’, in The Social Logic of Space, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. ix-xii.
  • Tschumi, B. (1994) ‘Spaces and Events’, in Architecture and Disjunction, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp.139-150.
  • Psarra, S. (2009) ‘The formation of space and cultural meaning’, in Architecture and Narrative, London: Routledge, pp.233-250.

Schedule Mondays 09:00-12:00 and Thursdays 12:00-15:00

Contact Handbook

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