week 14 – feedback and my next move

I presented my book this week, and the semester has almost come to an end. I am happy with the turnout of my book. Feedback that I gathered from my presentation was that I need to consider all of my strategies and either combine or develop certain ones more. I will have time over the break to consider all of these ideas and really think them through. Other feedback I got was about ensuring that my proposal is POSITIVE. I agree, I don’t want my research about gentrification and personal views make me bitter towards the new affluence of Newtown. As I said in my book, If Newtown wants to stay a socially inclusive place then it will have to accept its newer residents. Gentrification is going to happen, I don’t think it would be worth the energy in trying stop it. A project that acknowledges these changes and moulds them into something positive is a much better idea. I like the idea of something of a BANG going off in newtown, not just little pokey ideas here and there that have been proposed by the council but something that causes a stir.

So far all of the tutors have given me positive feedback on the map models I did exploring ambiguity. Using a map of Newtown I made iterations changing the terrain, cutting out buildings, playing with the heights, the connections between roads and structures, taking out king street to start thinking of major ways Newtown could become more ambiguous. These might form an approach for me in the context of an interior space or could work with my idea for a spatial intervention. For example What IF there was suddenly a huge blockade accross King street that threw the whole place into chaos?

I think I should keep exploring these strategies during the break. Ive been reminiscing on the foreword to the Naja and DeOstos Ambiguous architecture book

“Over the past few decades architecture as an idea and practice has increasingly limited its definition of itself. […] the reality is that architectural styles and forms are often the seductive packaging and repackaging of the same proven, marketable concepts […] beneath the cloak of radicalism the conventions of existing building typologies and programs, with all their comforting familiarity, still rule – and sell. What is needed desperately today are approaches to architecture that can free its potential to transform our ways of thinking, and acting.”

If this really is the project where we get to dream big and not have to worry about the reality of clients, budgets and business  then whats to stop me from proposing something radical? How can design really transform our ways of thinking and acting?

[1] jackowski N, De Ostos R, Ambiguous Spaces, Pamphlet Architecture no. 29, Princton Architectural Press, New York. 2008

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Week 12 – Ambiguity

For Thursdays class I have been exploring ‘ambiguity’ in a spatial way. This means creating sketch models and I have been taking photographs of ambiguous parts of Newtown. The feedback from Leisa and Tom has given me a list of people to look up:
Firstly is Gordon Matta Clark:

“By un-doing a building there are many aspects of the social condition against which I am gesturing: to open a state of enclosure which had been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that profligates suburban and urban boxes as a context for insuring a passive, isolated consumer—a virtually captive audience.” Gordon Matta-Clark, 1977

Gordon Matta Clark










Leisa also introduced me to the phenomena called Thomasson. A description from their website,

“Have you ever seen … say, a telephone pole which no longer carries a line, but still stands on the sidewalk? Or maybe you’ve seen a second story doorway in the outside wall of a building that didn’t lead to a landing — or to much of anything — anymore. Ever seen a “stairway to heaven,” a staircase that goes nowhere, or awalkway that ends abruptly in midair? These are Thomassons.

In the seventies, Japanese conceptual artist and writer Akasegawa Genpei and his buddies discovered “hyperart,” unintentional art created by the city itself. Everywhere they saw urban objects and structures that had had a use in the past, but were now useless … yet someone was still maintaining them, not removing them. Akasegawa named these objects “Thomassons” after American baseball hitter Gary Thomasson, who was recruited to a Japanese team and paid a mint to look pretty, but whose bat almost never connected with the ball.”

As I went around Newtown trying to discover what I thought were ambiguous spaces, these examples of ‘thomassons’ from around the world compliment my photos very nicely. They hightlight the preservation ideas I was talking with Grahame about this week. What makes Newtown, Newtown? Its the grungy, non-uniform elements that together make up the atmosphere of the suburb itself. These include the mixture of old victorian shopfront with new ones, expressive street art, strange pocket parks, textures of ripped posters, non-uniform pathways, grit, pokey spaces etc. If the councils plans to slow down traffic speeds, fix up and standardise footpaths etc continue will it detract from the distinct atmosphere Newtown has?

the window that once was

railroad to nowhere

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Week 10 – Concept to Spatial

After presenting my film, I get the feedback that it is not offering spatial solutions to my hypothesis. As I begin writing my book I will have to try and formulate a strategy about just how my vision for Newtown can be realised spatially.

One of the driving aims for my vision is that the project is to create some kind of impact on the people of Newtown. I want people to experiece something that is rich and unique, challenging the mindlessness that I feel is creeping into the Newtown lifestyle.

This could be in the form of an Intervention that disrupts daily life and the repetitiveness of Newtown or a venue that could aim to give a rich cultural experience through arts/music/events etc. It could be a multi-program space that creates an ambiguous crossover of people and activities.

In trying to find good examples of adaptive re-use I came across Tresor. The premier techno club of Berlin, Housed in what was formerly the main central-heating power station for East Berlin. What makes it special is that it has been left true to its original structure and the sheer size and atmosphere driven from the building no doubt enhances the music experience of loud, hard techno beats.

Tresor Club , Berlin










Another venue that came to mind when I was trying to find examples of places that evoked a rich experience was a club I visited in Japan called Super Deluxe . The space itself was quite warehouse-like leaving it open to many possibilities. Here are some photos of different ways the space has been used.

A screening of Miss Universe Japan @ Super Deluxe

The Sleeping Concert @ Super Deluxe

In trying to come up with examples of ambiguous architecture I came across the firm Naja and DeOstos

“Their work is largely engaged in ambiguous situations within urban and social dynamics for which the studio explores alternative narrative-like scripts. Projects addressing catastrophic scenarios, contaminated landscapes, corporate fields and newborn cities are among the architect’s diversified portfolio. Although different in scope and scale, all their projects intend to craft a sense of place.

From human-size installations to building-size architectural propositions to large-scale infrastructural projects NaJa & deOstos seeks to create an interwoven ecology of technology and culturally modified nature.

Amid a contemporary fascination for techniques and their commercialization, NaJa & deOstos develop an interdisciplinary architectural language, built or un-built, that stimulates a constant questioning of our roles as creators and consumers in an irresolute and often contradictory discipline.”

These architects have had me question the role that architecture plays in our lives. Their proposals are so extreme and non-conventional. I like that their approach weaves in literary references, history of the sites and statistics and challenges the motives for creating architecture that genrally have to have a commercialism and marketability.

'The Pregnant Island' Naja and DeOstos

Hanging Cemetery of Baghdad

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week 9 – Concept film

This week I am working on my visual concept presentation. I have decided to do a film that explores my belief that Newtowns retail/entertainment etc. life is becoming increasingly transparent and offer a glimpse of ‘what if’ it were to transform into something more murky and ambiguous.  I would like to emphasise the amount of action that takes place on King street compared to the relative quietness of the surrounding residental area.

So far the structure for this film is to start off transparent and then morph into something darker and intriguing. I have been looking at experimental films from the dada period, in particular the work if laszlo maholy-nagy. The films are experimental and reduced to black and white focusing on form and light.

Im still finding it hard to commit to just one hypothesis and seem to find myself changing the wording every time. Frustrating!!

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Week 7 – Gesaltism

This week

After  the feedback from Grahame I discover that my question needs more depth, so I am trying to narrow my research down a bit more and  hopefully explore this with some more depth for project 2.

After analysing my research I’ve begun to think about the idea of murkiness, because I feel that Newtown is becoming more and more transparent especially king street. This is backed up by the findings from the class that most of the asction in newtown happens on King street and becomes noticably quiet in the backstreets.

I’m not sure if this is exactly what Im looking for but I’ve come across Gesalt psychology, a concept developed in Germany in the 1920s which refers to an organised whole that is perceived as more than a sum of its parts. This can be broken down into principles that affect how our brain sees images which are : similarity, continuation, closure, proximity figure and ground. A good description of these can be found here and below are a few examples in a graphic way.




This is another example , about how we can be visually deceived by swiss artist Felice Varini.

aligned view

alternate view

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Inspiration – Richard Billingham

I rediscovered Richard Billinghams work recently. Yes its a little side tracked from my major work, but the essence of his photos remind me of some of the people I see in newtown. I like the gritty realness of the scenes and the imperfections that make them beautiful. I feel that way about spaces a lot too. Theres a certain comfort that comes from sitting in a run-down old pub, you can truly relax and soak into the furniture without worrying that people are watching.Sometimes you just want to go somewhere where you really don’t want to be noticed.
















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Week 6 – Newtown vs. Oldtown

This week in class, Leisa gave a lecture on drawing styles and showcases many different architects initial sketches on projects. Personally I love the freedom of drawing as it has no boundaries and doesnt stunt creativity beacuse of the quickness in transition from mind to page. Some good examples:
Coop Himmelblau
Carlo Scarpa
Frank Gehry
Zaha Hadid
Peter Zumpthor
Steven Holl

Frank Gehry

Coop Himmelblau

peter zumthor







I also purchased a book recently  Architects Sketchbook which has lots of good examples of how different architects use sketching in the design process and has given me some good ideas for the communication of my design and how to make it connect emotionally with clients or viewers.

In class this week we all put forward our ideas to the class to try and generate various possibilities of where our research can take us. My Question put simply is ‘how can design prolong the diversity of newtown, despite effects of gentrification?’ This question so far does not limit me to an obvious design solution. It could be a shop/gallery/residence/transitional space, the possibilities are endless. Grahame gave some examples of interesting gallery/retail spaces that exisited in small, rotating schedules. On this note, last night I went to an exhibition at Gaffa Gallery. Structurally its an interesting space, an arcade made up of lots of tiny retail spaces and more open gallery spaces upstairs. The Gaffa website shows that they offer a rotational style system where new retail concepts will inhabit these spaces, similar to what Grahame was talkng about in class.

From the website:

The Arcade spaces on the ground level are dedicated to housing innovative, creative retail concepts. As a precinct, Gaffa seeks to foster a dynamic community of businesses. As of February 2011 The Arcade project will be re-structuring to accommodate longer term tenants. After basing the project on a ‘pop-up’ shop rotational style system of 3 months, due to feedback, we have decided to allow more flexibility with leases and offer tenants a more significant duration in order to develop their clientele and their identity.”

Gaffa Gallery entrance(left) looking down from above (right)










I have stumbled across another good example of an art space. Called Program it is a nonprofit project aimed at testing the disciplinary boundaries of architecture through collaborations with other fields. There are a variety of collaborations and events which take place and they describe their aim to ‘challenge traditional, domesticated modes of architectural practice and representation’ I find these projects very engaging. I like that they are doing something NEW which is definitely somewhere I need to go with my project. Here are some of my favourite projects from the site:

How If – A Translation in III Acts Mladen Bizumic

two point five Margrét Bjarnadóttir & Elín Hansdóttir










“Hansdóttir and Bjarnadóttir have merged their practices in fine art and dance and developed a spatial strategy to expose the silent character within moments in the gallery space. Corners, doors, edges, or the otherwise mundane, featureless parts of the room begin to reveal a ‘suggestion’ of life.”

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