PLAIN – Constructing Nature Out West
Melbourne’s Western Plains is a hybridised territory – a product of the exertion of civil engineering, environmental management, and the pressures of urbanisation. How public space is designed and planned within this territory, whether built or grown, is critical to city’s future edge.
Building from last year’s foundations, this studio will return to this context for another design project for large scale public landscapes and infrastructures.
Focusing on the expanding role of sensing and imaging technologies in defining spatial environments, the project asks whether nature today is entirely constructed and managed or is there simply no nature left? Either way the distinction being nature and culture, or nature and architecture seems no longer possible.
Geometry, simulation, surveying, laser scans, photogrammetry, machine learning, artificial intelligence, real time technology, models, maps, indicate a nexus between image technologies and the production of contemporary space. We will explore how such data lies at the centre of colonial modernity, and when we shape new public spaces, information may be mediated to instill a more ecologically attuned experience of the environment, one about increasing pleasure, rather than increasing efficiency and control.
In the studio we will design 3 large scale public spaces –
- The Field – an ‘anti-park’ for Melbourne’s West. A spatial project that speculates on alternative cultural relationships within the plains.
- The Line – a pathway infrastructure that provides access to and from the field.
- The Shed – a commercial seed production facility
We will conduct field trips to the plains, using photography and laser scanning systems to conduct a developed form of site analysis – the photographic survey.
By digitally reproducing and modelling spatial scenes with these technologies, we may alter their meaning, constructing situations that were different to those we had found simply by being there.
Together with GIS digital mapping data, these constructed images and models serve as a portrait and the reality of site and contain scalar and formal inclinations that later become the elements and assets we use to construct the design project with.
This studio will be conducted in a hybrid format - studio sessions will vary across on-campus meetings and formal reviews, online meetings and workshops and on-site field trips. The studio fosters a collaborative and inclusive group dynamic, immersing ourselves in real and virtual ecologies and environments.
Technical tooling workshops will be carried out for students to develop skills in photography, 3D scanning, real-time rendering, drawing and sketching. No prior software specialisation is required.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an extended studio brief and program or any queries.
Ben Waters is the founder of S-I Projects – a design agency working at the intersection of technology, ecology and cultural heritage. Ben is also principal at OSK Architects, and leads S-I Lab at the Melbourne School of Design.
Readings & References
- Socializing Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics - Noel Castree
- Creative Ecologies - Helen Frichot
- Ecology without Nature - Timothy Morton
- A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design – Bruno Latour
- Artificial Arcadia - Bas Princen
- The Plains - Traianos Pakioufakis
- Mosbach Paysagistes
Media and Software
- Lidar – laser scanning
- GIS – DEM mapping
- Unreal Engine – Real Time Graphics
Schedule Mondays 18:15-21:15 and Thursdays 09:00-12:00