6 May 2017
By Dr Helen Norrie, University of Tasmania
After both of the morning keynote talks a host of local practices presented short 8 minute insights into their practices. On day one, Megan Baynes from Room 11, in Tasmania, a place she describes as ‘tragic, mad but never boring,’ talked about projects that connect to place through clear diagrammatic gestures that underpin tactile, robust and subtle ordering of the environment. Rachel Nolan and Patrick Kennedy considered how memories are evoked through practice, through light, colour, texture, scale, form and smell, grounding people and building to place and time. Resisting his usual urge to run rapid fire through an array of ingenious and delightful projects, Rodney Eggleston talked about March Studio’s unsuccessful entry for the 2016 National Gallery of Victoria Pavilion competition. Their idea for the NGAV proposed the repurposing of John Wardle Architects’ 2015 Pavilion, flipping the steel structure and retro-fitting with an array of hand-made ropes to create a ‘technicolour tensile cloud.’ Working with a (colour blind) local rope manufacturer they were able to construct a carefully calibrated array of colours to make Australia’s biggest man-made rainbow, that they envisioned would be the perfect place to celebrate gay weddings. The session provided a quiet palate cleanser after the madness of Winy Maas, which perfectly re-calibrated the energy in the room.
Day two’s local interludes started with Huw Turner and Penny Collins talking about their delightful and ingenious Waterloo Youth Centre, a wireframe armature for life, both botanical and social, and their fabulous multilevel restaurant currently under construction at Barangaroo. Emma Williamson allowed a slide show of the impressive work of 20 years of CODA Studio’s practice to play as she discussed the conscious construction of the practice that she has built with her partner, Kevin Wong. Noting that ‘always talking things up,’ and embracing an attitude of ‘fake it til you make it’ has opened opportunities for diverse and interesting projects in a practice that lives by the mantra: useful, joyful, generous and stealthy. The amusing double act of Neil Durbach and John Wardle packed in some interesting and delightful ideas into a spared eight minutes. Durbach outlined four types of collaboration. Soft collaboration that involves ‘nudges, winks, tugs, suggestions, mumbled ideas and small improvements’. In contrast, hard collaboration, is rigorous and strict, where everyone takes turns in developing ideas together. Dead collaboration is the practice of learning and ‘studying joyously’ the work of dead artists and architects, whereas random collaboration occurs more haphazardly through mistakes and unexpected conflicts and coincidences. Wardle discussed his firm’s current collaboration with Durbach Block Jaggers, in which the two practices are developing conjoined buildings independently, but through a constant dialogue with each other. Feeling refreshed, we were all then ready for the high speed, frenetic and fabulous presentation by Rahul Mehrotra that followed.
All views expressed are those of the individual author and not the Institute.