CDE Studio 05

Great Ocean [Road?]

Studio leader: Professor: Justyna Karakiewicz
Senior tutor: Onur Tumturk

Aneree Parekh, Antonio Huang, David Liu, Divya Menon, Gexin Liu, Hang Zhao, Heitong Choi, Hongyu Wei, Jiaao Wayne Wong, Jingheng Qian, Junhao Shao, Ka Chung Lo, Kundi Shu, Larissa Tse, Rachel Dash, Radhika Goyal, Shi Percy Pan, Shijie Zhang, Simone Rollason, Siyang Chen, Wenxiang Shen, Xi Hang, Xiufeng Li, Yang Bai, Yanjun Duan, Ying Shi, Yingna Celina Sun, Yitong Guo

While most think of it only as a route to a tourist destination, the Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I. It was built by returned servicemen in a government initiative to provide employment for the soldiers while creating infrastructure for a better future for the community. The road connected isolated communities, provided access to the lighthouses along the coastline which played an extremely important role in protecting ships from the very dangerous coastline as well as provide a route for visitors from nearby urban settlements, primarily Melbourne. The work began in 1918 and the road was opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine, in 1932. It has become one of the world’s great ocean drives.

On December 1, 2020, the Victorian Government established the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA) to “manage, protect, rehabilitate and foster resilience of the natural, cultural and heritage values of coastal Crown land and marine waters along the Great Ocean Road”. The main focus is to preserve all the characteristics of the road and promote sustainable tourism. The Victorian government refers to tourism as part of ‘the visitor economy’, a major sector of the state economy, acknowledging the significant value of places that people love to visit. It also sees tourism as way to create employment and a path to recovery after current pandemic.

The road is under constant threat from sea water rising, coastal erosion and huge amount of traffic. While maintaining the road is part of the task s ahead, the question we will be asking in this studio is whether the tourism, and the road as it is, are the only future for this amazing part of Australia. Obviously, the road promotes car movement, and this is in turn promotes strip developments and carparks that often dominate the landscape. The road creates an impassable barrier between communities on one side and the unique coastline on the other, a barrier not only for humans but all species.

Do we really want to promote more of these developments in name of recovery? Is there any other choice? Do we want to fight the forces of nature continuously in hope that we can save the road by some amazing technology? Such strategies will deliver a recovery that will be very short-lived while it causes even more damage to the environment. Perhaps what we need is a dramatically different vision for this strip of land, something challenging but at the same time something that should be focused on twenty-first century dreams, not twentieth century ones. This may not be the road and tourism as we know it. But if not, then what?

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Architecture 2021_winter