CDE Studio 44
Ultimate Spinach

Studio leaders: Danielle Peck and Sam Hunter


Ultimate Spinach attempts to make visible, through architectural discourse and design, a food system in an urban environment. ‘Food space’ is a broad term our studio uses to describe various stages of the food cycle; production to distribution, preparation to consumption and waste – it also describes physical and socio-political frameworks relating to food systems.

These systems are consistently and historically separated into rural and urban environments, and those of us that live in the latter, can never fully appreciate the inherent order that is embedded within the holistic food network and the impacts of this on the broader environment, locally and globally.

Food is the vehicle that we utilise to test our architecture; food as muse. We focus on food propagating cultural authenticity, plurality and diversity through the amalgamation of both existing and new found relationships between food, architecture and the city. ‘As the most ancient carrier of culture’ (Gohar, L.), food is contextual; it situates you in place and time. The studio exploits foods connection to place and uses this as a means to explore architectural authenticity and sustainability in the inner Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, through the ultimate design of a hypothetical ‘Melbourne Food Institute’.

In this studio students develop skills in research, critical positioning and return brief execution. Design is considered a useful mode of discovery and speculation. Students are challenged with a complex array of urban and cultural contextual analysis, city-scale thinking and in juxtaposition, learn how to scale these ideas into architectural drawings. Working in partnerships, demanding dialogue, the students this semester were tasked to negotiate their sometimes different points of view to ultimately present a project that enabled pluralism.

We encourage projects that are speculative, and at the same time collaborate with the students to inject a level of realism to produce final propositions that sit somewhere between a real and imagined terrain. The studio takes a special interest in critical representation, drawing and compositional techniques, and the work you see exhibited here is the result of their final assignment, a large-scale composite narrative drawing that reflects their topics of interest and postulates on new relationships that might emerge between food, architecture and the urban environment. Food infrastructure, often relegated to the periphery of our cities, returns to the neighbourhood where we find ways to integrate it back into our day-to-day lives.

Ultimate Spinach explores ways food program, form and provocation can re-assert community value, and ultimately answer the question, How Can We Live Better?

Special thanks to our guest lecturers this semester Tess O’Meara, Jarrod Malbon and Grant Trewella and our guest review panel Julie Eizenberg, Nathan Bishop, Lily Stephens and Ben Waters.

Image: Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées Event, 2019 Laila Gohar.

Featured Projects

(click to view full size image)

Bharda Rajendren Pandalai and Poom Areecharoenlert

Bharda Rajendren Pandalai & Poom Areecharoenlert

Catriona Bisset and David Gan

Catriona Bisset & David Gan.

Chandler Pyke and Jun Wei Chng

Chandler Pyke & Jun Wei Chng

Mia Fleming and Jack Le Riche

Mia Fleming & Jack Le Riche

Qinyi Mao and Wenqin Sheng

Qinyi Mao & Wenqin Sheng

Architecture Civic Cities 2020_summer