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Monash Art Design & Architecture

The central concern of this studio is to investigate how history, memory, and the idea of progress can inform a rich and critical architecture for the contemporary city. With the concepts of market and place as our points of departure, we will think carefully about how a space of transaction, both economic and social, might be explored through the language of architecture. We will be interested in spaces for conventional exchange and spaces of alterity, an architecture that sincerely engages the possibility of a contemporary marketplace, but simultaneously examines a critical alternative, a black market architecture.

The education committee of the Australian Institute of Architects have proposed a student competition to develop design proposals for the complex of buildings opposite the existing Queen Victoria Market between Elizabeth, Therry and Queen streets on the Northern edge of Melbourne’s CBD. This collection of buildings was recently purchased by the City of Melbourne, and has been identified as being of significant strategic importance in the development of both the historic market precinct, and of the urban form of the city more generally. As a studio we will examine the complex and layered history of the site in detail, from its pre-colonial identity as Wurundjeri land adjacent to the natural watercourse now cajoled and concealed beneath Elizabeth Street, through its early settlement adoption as burial ground and Melbourne’s first official cemetery, to the collection of 19th Century buildings so typical of our nostalgic vision of the marketplace. In so doing we
will ask how this rich history, and the key role it plays in the collective memory of the city, might be leveraged as stimulus for a contemporary architecture.

The competition brief reflects the complexity of the 21st century city and requires students to engage with the overlapping and sometimes incongruous programmatic juxtapositions that now so define the urban condition. By way of process this will be an open and experimental studio. Our focus will be to grapple with the site and competition program through rigorous design research at a range of scales, and where relevant, we will read seminal texts on the market, and on concepts of history, memory and progress. Collectively we will map the existing site and its history, a base from which each student will prepare an individual submission for the design competition, defining their own vision for a black market place.

In this studio, we will take the position that architectural design is necessarily more than a response to predetermined set of conditions, more than a clever solution to a set of functional requirements. We will argue for the critical agency of architecture as a creative discipline, through which both past and future, memory and progress, can be imagined.

Image: Originally published by David Syme & Co, 1879. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


Black Market Place
History | Memory | Process

Monash Art Design + Architecture
M.Arch Studio Semester 1, 2015
Studio Leader: Dennis Prior
Studio Times: Monday 6–9pm, Thursday 1.30–4.30pm

Monash University
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