Studio 02


Oskar Kazmanli-Liffen and Rennie Liffen

Studio Description

No talking, no running and definitely no touching.
That’s what I was told. In here it’s another world,
Check yourself in the glass, feel the weight
Adrift in the labyrinth of objects
The room and the city

At 52 hertz we’ll be ok
My fortress in the Metropolis
The world at our feet
Across that polished threshold

Although I’ve never been inside
I’ll see you in the museum of our minds

Studio 2 continues to investigate ‘the form of ritual’ in architecture by exploring intimate and idiosyncratic projects that reveal the human dimensions of contemporary life. The poetic architectural potentials of rituals, routines and occupations of buildings and spaces are at the forefront of the studio’s interests and exploring these across the minutes, days, seasons and lifetimes of the occupants underpins the work of the studio.

The studio promotes sensitivity and humility in architectural thought and process, but also seeks opportunities within projects to explore empowerment and social equality. Context provides this opportunity and is perceived as something beyond the physical, where narrative and imagination are the surveyors of the intricate detail of fictitious places and characterful locations, creating a unique, provocative and shared setting for projects.

Archetypes are explored within the studio design process and suggest a focus on the pragmatics of composition, geometry + proportion with reference to the established formal structures that are embedded in human understanding and give self-referenced meaning to buildings and spaces.

The studio therefore carefully walks a line between the poetic, the pragmatic and the politic where each step is guided by a robust design process. This semester the studio again looks at the rituals of innocence, of authenticity and the everyday expressed in the objects and spaces that surround us and the meanings that they offer us. We argue that in much of contemporary life, we are losing touch with the material objects that have nurtured human development for thousands of years and that the value and emotional importance of everyday artefacts and spaces has been lost. We are interested in re-establishing an agenda of authenticity by designing architecture that celebrates the social and emotional values of materials, objects and spaces ‘that we know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.

Studio Outcomes

We will produce small, highly resolved architectural projects responding to the continuing themes of Studio 2.  We will engage particularly with the experiential and phenomenological implications of an architecture of both ‘individual’ and ‘community’ and will take inspiration from the work of selected film makers, artists and writers. Each student will form the functional and emotional brief for the architecture of a small museum building of unique typology, inspired by a chosen ‘curator’ and addressing the value placed on everyday objects and spaces in contemporary life and their role in shaping the human condition within the context of an imagined urban location at the Barbican in London.

Students will explore a truly iterative design process in conjunction with studio leaders, technical tutors and collaborators where abstract (orthographic) drawing, descriptive writing and physical model-making are the central activities. A disciplined and methodical approach which uses drawing and writing incrementally and values and exhibits every ‘trace’ of the process as the ‘archaeology of the mind’. This will involve the rigorous exploration of a single architectural composition including spatial experience, environment, landscape, technology and materiality. Final outcomes will be restricted to specific and consistent communication tools with a focus on the representation of both ‘atmosphere’ and ‘construction’. Students will be expected to produce significant and sophisticated drawings and models throughout the semester, communicating their intentions with clarity and passion.

Studio Leaders

OSKAR KAZMANLI-LIFFEN is an architect originally from London. With experience in award winning practices, Oskar has also co-led studios across the masters and undergraduate degrees at RMIT and MSD. Through teaching and practice his interests lie in a close understanding of site, diagrammatic and compositional clarity and the experiential qualities of objects and space.

RENNIE LIFFEN is a British Architect from London who has practiced in Europe and Australia. Rennie was involved in design studio teaching for many years in the UK and has been living, working and teaching in Melbourne since 2005. This will be his nineteenth Masters CDE studio and his eighth in collaboration with Oskar Kazmanli-Liffen.

Readings & References

  • ILA BEKA & LOUISE LEMOINE – Film – ‘Barbicania’
  • JULIEN TEMPLE – Film – London: The Modern Babylon
  • SOPHIE CALLE – Art + Writing
  • ORHAN PAMUK – Curation + Writing
  • PIERRE LEGUILLON – Art + Writing
  • PETER ZUMTHOR – Architecture and Theory
  • JUHANI PALLASMAA – Writing and Theory
  • TADAO ANDO – Design Process
  • ATELIER BOW-BOW – Architecture + Graphics
  • LAB-LAB FOR ARCHITECTURE – Theory + Graphics

Schedule Mondays 15:15-18:15 and Thursdays 18:15-21:15

Contact Handbook

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