Architecture: Studio Mess. Sem 1, 2009

Special Mention: AA Prize for Unbuilt Works

Master of Architecture Studio C project
Project: Urban design / living+working units for small group of families.
Grade: High-distinction
Tutor: Simon Wollan, Ammon Beyerle

Reimagine the suburb of Rowville in 2032, when cars are no longer affordable because of peak oil prices, and when future urban forms in architecture emerge. The future is predicted to be complex and messy. The brief was to design a series of small, sustainable working and living units (or ‘incubators’) and a pub for a small, close-knit group of family and individuals – this is space where they plan to work and live and meet.They are open-minded as to the project’s configuration, but their limited budget confines the scope and scale.

I approached the project by looking at the typical suburban block. The suburban fence stood out to me – could this model of the typical fence be challenged, can it be redesigned so that residents can both share lives with one another, and maintain privacy at the same time? You see residents using a lot of their backyards (for gardening, dining, sheds, sun-tanning…) and a bit of the front yard (mostly for display: they park their cars, tidy their lawn…), but seldom the strip where the fence sits. You occasionally see residents dumping their stuff there, but the space is not used very often. My stand is that it divides neighbours and the community at large. And with a bad fence, it is hard to get to know your neighbours and share life with one another.

My proposal is that instead of a fence that separates and divides, the new fence, with this new configuration, will connect, bond, and pull neighbours together, encouraging their daily activities to overlap. The fences will be sharing fences, or sharing spaces. The strip that the fence originally sat on will consist of spaces of which neighbours will share with one another, such as offices (remember they are to work locally now!), storage areas, water tanks, bike sheds (people ride bikes more than ever without cars in 2030), recreation areas…