This studio will investigate the role and effects of ‘urban renewal’ applied to the rural town of Edenhope, in West Wimmera, Victoria. One of the relevant premises of this studio is represented by the large scale revegetation project Habitat 141 that is currently managed by Greening Australia and other environmental organizations for the restoration of green connectivity along the 141th meridian of longitude between Victoria and South Australia. The design of new and redefined urban, landscape and architectural spaces integrated with built environments in the rural town of Edenhope will be investigated as an effective strategy to rehabilitate urban, economic and social conditions that are currently in decline. The studio will explore integration of indoor and outdoor space, as well as combinations of integrated interventions in response to the ecological significance and links to natural systems that are provided by existing open spaces. Questioning conventional urban planning modes, the design approach encouraged through this studio will seek close interaction with the existing natural environment, with particular focus towards combinations of sustainable landscape, architectural, economic and environmental solutions. Through the redefinition and re-infrastructuring of existing open and built spaces (rather than construction of new landscapes and buildings), the notion of urban sustainability will be tested through various correlated design strategies, including the following among others:
-minimizing built footprint;
-encouraging reuse of existing buildings and infrastructures
-re-landscaping and activation of open spaces
-spreading out of ‘urban bush’ and regeneration of land linked to surrounding natural environments
-redefinition and integration of urban open and built spaces to accommodate community and public programs, as well as activities engaged with alternative commercial enterprises, and the integrated fields of education, culture, entertainment, art, ecotourism and sport among others.
Some design projects for the open and landscape areas of Edenhope will be undertaken, including analytical studies of the existing areas, investigation of analogous case study examples, and consultative phases with council administrators and local community/ies. These projects will investigate plan and spatial resolutions which will be delivered in the form of plans and 3-D representations, focused on some urban blocks along the town’s main street and urban surroundings, including existing public facilities, the existing office building of the West Wimmera Shire Council, the back swamp area and Lake Wallace. An exhibition of the projects and related public presentation will be organized in partnership with the West Wimmera Shire Council as a conclusive consolidation of – an event for reflecting on – the research. This event will take place in Edenhope, so as to relevantly disseminate research outcomes through – and directly engage with – the community/ies that experience day by day the sites of the research project. This studio and associated investigative research sits in between urban and landscape architecture territories. Encouraging an approach through which design interventions at micro and macro scales are complementary to each others, this studio bridges between the design research activities that are undertaken within the UAL/Urban Architecture Laboratory and Landscape Laboratory that are part of the School‘s Centre of Design Practice Research.