Seam will explore the complex junctions in Melbourne’s built fabric through the research and mapping of environmental and urban phenomena in North Melbourne and the subsequent development of generative, bottom up formal morphologies that can be used to evoke and deploy an architectural outcome.
Melbourne is commonly thought of as a sprawling city, yet within the milieu there are a number of highly contested junctions. These junctions have come to be because of a series of constraining factors; infrastructure, topography, heritage and planning legislation to name a few. The junctions take the form of sweeping tectonic seams, spaces poised ready for intervention, but seemingly frozen and inanimate, their surrounds a contradiction in their activity and variance.
It is the position of this design studio that these spaces have become so overwhelmingly saturated with competing constraints that conventional urban design methodologies are inefficient in addressing them. New, emergent and generative methodologies are required.
To derive these processes the studio will look at deconstructing existing systems (such as those found in biology and physics, or abstracted from urban or pedestrian patterns) into basic rules that can be co-opted into architectural and urban material, form and landscape.
More broadly, the studio is interested in how environmental phenomena can be traced into, and reflected in, urban and architectural design. Through experimentation and simulation it is anticipated that a number of the site’s constraints, both explicit and inexplicit, can be mapped, recorded, and subsequently engaged as a generative base.
The seam in question will be a site in the Macaulay area of North Melbourne, specifically the strip of land bordering Citylink and Railway Canal. Surrounded by a combination of high value North Melbourne real estate, compromised low density industry, critical urban infrastructure and socially sensitive housing, the site remains underutilised, polluted, and in disrepair. Kensington to the west gives way to cheerful cottages, whereas to the east there are vacant lots and warehouses. Both sides turn their back on the river and the associated road, rail and pedestrian network.
The outcome will be a medium scale building of multiple uses. Program is not the driver for this studio, but the building is anticipated to combine both an infrastructural use (that is, one connected to the greater urban context) with a site specific public function (such as an exhibition space and associated practical requirements).
How can the complex inputs of the site be negotiated through the use of generative tools, both digital and analogue? How can complex mappings of space be synthesised into urban and architectural design? How can competing environmental phenomena be better brought to bear in the formal and material articulation of buildings and landscape?