Studio 19

The Map and the Territory

Ben Waters

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

Studio Description

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 the last 3 semester’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 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 instil a more ecologically attuned experience of the environment, one about increasing pleasure, rather than increasing efficiency and control.

Studio Outcomes

In the studio we will design 3 large scale public spaces –

  1. The Field – an ‘anti-park’ for Melbourne’s West. A spatial project that speculates on alternative cultural relationships within the plains.
  2. The Line – a pathway infrastructure that provides access to and from the field.
  3. The Shed – a commercial seed production facility

We will conduct field trips to the plains, using photography and photogrammetry tools to conduct a developed form of site analysis – the photographic survey. By digitally reproducing and modelling spatial scenes using real time graphic 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 symbolic 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.

An archive of student work from Studio 19 can be viewed at the following link –

Studio Leader

Ben Waters is an architect and founder of S-I Projects – a design agency working at the intersection of technology, ecology and cultural heritage. Ben is also principal at Waters Architects and leads S-I Lab at the Melbourne School of Design.

Readings & References


  • A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design – Bruno Latour
  • Socializing Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics - Noel Castree
  • Creative Ecologies - Helen Frichot
  • Ecology without Nature - Timothy Morton


  • The Map and the Territory – Luigi Ghirri
  • Artificial Arcadia - Bas Princen
  • Magic World: A Future Report from Shepparton – Tacita Dean

Media and Software

  • Photography
  • Photogrammetry
  • GIS – DEM mapping
  • Unreal Engine – Real Time Graphics
  • Rhino

Schedule Mondays 18:15-21:15 and Thursdays 09:00-12:00
Off-campus Activities Week 2

Contact Handbook

Need enrolment assistance?

Stop 1 provides enrolment and other support to Bachelor of Design, Bachelor of Environments and Melbourne School of Design students.