Graduate Design Studio: Representing and Remembering Place
University of Melbourne
This experimental studio course mixed theoretical and practical approaches to issues of place – how a place can be perceived, understood, mapped and represented in various ways.
The subject of my study was an abandoned wool store located at a cul-de-sac in the industrial North Melbourne area Macaulay, adjacent to a freeway bridge and train tracks. Once part of the thriving Australian wool industry, it now lay derelict with the old brick warehouse and surrounding lot gradually withered. By surveying, mapping, photographing, listening to and visiting this site over and over throughout the semester I got to get to know it intimately. At first both the area and site scared me, but gradually it became familiar and I begun to see that it was not dead, but full of new forms of life and activity that was overwriting the old surface.
Birds, weeds and insects had made it their home, people cut across the lot from the nearby train station, kids came to skate and bike across the slab where the weeds were finding foothold in the disintegrating concrete. The fluctuations of economy, the trajectory of city development in Melbourne, the daily habits of people and the entire life cycle of animals — all could be traced in this seemingly empty space. The project was a journey that challenged many preconceived notions of mine, and highlighted the need for acute observation to find the unique features of any given place, and clues to its different stories.
My final presentation was a weave of photos, fibers, and artifacts found on site – representing the history, character and constant transformation of the wool store. My experiences and insights from this project turned out to be a major inspiration for my master’s thesis, which you can view here.