How do we approach the design of public space in a way that might catalyze friction?

It may have been a while between posts, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!

The TICKLE booklet series is expanding with booklet .07, Friction in Public Space, soon to be completed. You may recall  our posts on the TCL-RMIT studio collaboration, ‘Messy Compositions.’ The booklet, like these posts, aims to share the outcomes of the Upper Pool Studio’s explorations on the relationship between composition and messiness in the design of public space.

The soon-to-be-released booklet .07 will question:

  • How do we define public space vis-à-vis the ideas of ‘friction’ –

Between publics,

Between systems,

Between programs and processes,

Between past and present,

Between scales and qualities,

Between self and other,

Between public and private self.

  • How do we represent public space  – the friction of/between its flux and form?
  • How do we approach the design of public space in a way that might catalyze friction?

Keep an eye on the Tickle Blog for more details on booklet .07 Friction in Public Space.

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‘Connection to Country’ Symposium

TCL are proud to support the second AILA Victoria Premier event of 2016 , ‘Connection to Country’ Symposium on 18th March 2016 at ZINC, Federation Square.

Connection to Country Symposium Event Flyer

AILA Victoria, the  IADV and the City of Melbourne to bring the Victorian built environment community an opportunity to take part in the continuing conversation about how we better engage with culture and nature to shape our future place.

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This exciting day-long symposium from Chaired by Rueben Berg, Director IADV, attendees will provide Victorian built environment professionals with a deeper understanding of Victorian Cultural Landscapes, and how to respectfully and better engage with Indigenous Communities to inform and enrich design practice in Victoria and Australia. Attendees will hear will hear from an all Indigenous panel of leaders, artists, architects, and advocates about how to better acknowledge, interpret and respond to Indigenous land history and culture in projects.

For more information and to register please visit the AILA Victoria Events Page.

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Visiting Hours Screening

The TCL Studio transformed last month to host the screening of Visiting Hours, a short film by Kasimir Burgess, the first recipient of the Kevin Taylor Legacy – Creative in Residence.

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Kas had the opportunity during his residency to film the cartoonist, Michael Leunig while visiting a hospice where his childhood school teacher Joan lived. Joan was one of the few people to have faith in Michael as a child and to support and further his creativity.

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In this short film Kas sculpts each scene into a powerful portrait which captures an inspiring old friendship and the mutual affections and understanding between Michael and Joan.

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Visiting Hours forms part of a larger film by Kasimir Burgess on Michael Leunig’s life set to be released in 2016.

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The Buzz…


The annual community project ‘Get Sunflowered’ returns in 2016 to Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. TCL had the pleasure of designing a plot entitled

‘The Buzz’. A maze inspired design which celebrates bees as the… “greatest life workers of any community” – Bernard Jensen

TCL’s design allows visitors to enter a living maze of benefit and enchantment. Pick a pathway and follow the journey of our all-important pollinators to the Central Guard Tower.

From the tower the hexagonal maze is revealed and mass planted Helianthus annuus transition from vibrant yellows to oranges to reds as they boarder the Princes Highway.

The Buzz aims to create a community/ recreational space with a relationship to the world in which it exists. This space is an important food source for our pollinators and offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the importance of regional biodiversity.

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“Giant acorns in the sky!”

Last week, our very own Alexa Ongoco took a day off work to visit a primary school to meet Miss C’s prep and year one students. The purpose of her visit was to introduce the discipline of landscape architecture and what we do to the up and coming generation.

The students were asked what they thought landscape architecture was and these were some of the exciting responses given:

                “Do you dig up dirt?”

                “You work on projects!”

                “You design toilets!”

                “You scape the land!”

Alexa explained that as landscape architect, we designed parks, as well as streetscapes, playgrounds (which they loved the idea of), green walls and even zoo exhibitions. The students were then exposed to a whole range of popular landscape architecture projects that help provide a visual understanding of various outcomes. Amongst these projects, featured two TCL projects:  ‘Pod Playground’ in Canberra and Carlton Garden’s playground. Upon seeing the images associated to each project the students were getting more and more excited:

                “Giant acorns in the sky!”

                “I need to remember these for minecraft!”

                “Do people climb up those bars?”

Following a presentation, the kids were encouraged to think about what images they liked from the examples shown and try to reimagine and expand upon the designs for a concept for their school oval. They split up into group and they were given a choice of designing up in the sky, looking down like a bird (plan view) or looking out the window in front of the oval (sectional). They were allowed to use paints, glitter, pencils and pens, and had to make sure they worked together when making decisions. (Simulating a design workshop)

The activity lasted for about an hour, and by the end of it their ovals ranged in designs.

o   Group 1: A water fountain that pushed out water and bubbles and had four taps (too hot, too cold, just right and bubbles!) and filtered into two ponds – one deep one for swimming, and one filled with rubber duckies. It was a night-time scene, so there were glittering stars in the sky and forests on either side with two blue benches.

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o   Group 2: A chocolate fountain took the centre stage, with a giant sun and a forest surrounding it. There were also many veggie patches including strawberries, pumpkins and lemons, and a garden bed

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o   Group 3: A summer and winter garden oval. The summer side had a garden bed, a beach and a pond with boats while the winter side had an igloo cubby house, a beautiful path, ice skating rink, snow and a polar bear!

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o   Group 4: A giant river with a sandy embankment and a grass slope with a tree house on top. There’s a water slide, a veggie patch and some fun plastic curved pipes to play on.20150917_123849 copy

o   Group 5: A giant mini golf (right) area, with dragonflies, water and slides and of course,      the Sydney Tower with beautiful green walls and colourful foliage!

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o   Group 6: Giant trees and tree houses, with a water slide and footy inspired pavilions, with birds flying over20150917_160203 copy

o   Group 7: Banana trees and eagles were the main features for this design with water fountains and stairs making an appearance. A beautiful 3D, faceted, grassy installation was included for seating and picnic settings.

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Alexa’s thoughts after the workshop:

“It was great being able to see the kids take on the precedents shown before and work/re-work those ideas into their designs with enthusiasm, as well as being able to watch their imagination be explored on paper. Who knows, maybe they might be our “budding” landscape architects of the future!”

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Messy Compositions

X:TCL QNAP3 Resources3 CAD1_CAD_TemplatesDrawing2 LayoutThis semester, TCL will lead an RMIT upper pool studio exploring the relationship between composition and messiness in the design of public space. The studio’s research question builds upon the practice’s Rosa Barba prize winning Auckland Waterfront project, interrogating and advancing the position that “messiness”-  friction, conflict and contrast, between scales, publics, operations and qualities – should be valued and can, in turn, be “composed” towards negotiation, exchange, and a more meaningful engagement with site. The studio will translate the design methods and thematic threads that have defined TCL’s practice approach and become an embedded fixture of the practice throughout the course of the semester. The expanding territory of Queen Vic Market will provide grounds for speculation on the composition of messiness and friction in Melbourne’s public realm.


Student Work Collage

POST #03 Final Semester Reviews

The TCL studio concluded with a final review of the proposed ‘messy compositions’ for the site. Proposals represented a broad range of approaches that resonated with discussions from the studio’s outset, around the enduring “frictions” that define public space: the friction between self and other; the friction between past and present; the friction between public and private; the friction between design/control and informal/emergent space; friction between programs; the friction between public life and consumption; the implications of spaces without friction.


“The odd one,” a proposal by Chad Akyol and Melvin Chan, for instance, focused on framing encounters between diverse publics through an expanded set of market-related programs centred on “ugly food.” By hybridizing market operations around the transformation of food with public space, the proposal revealed and contributed to networks of food access, transformation and distribution at multiple scales. The play on “ugliness” introduced novel aesthetics and activities often kept “back of house” to the site and brought them to the forefront of the project. “An other public space,” a proposal by Justine Carey and Holly McNaught, focused on the site’s heterotopic/”other” qualities, as a place on yet off the grid. Through explorations of topographic form, edge condition, site qualities, maintenance and program, they interrogated the gap that might be composed between formal and informal space. “Projecting grounds,” a proposal by Katya Hamaniuk and Martina Mohenska, reimagined the site as an observatory. By framing perception of the site’s ground plane and the city’s skyline along a picturesque path, the tension between past and present that defines the site’s ‘in-between’ qualities was exaggerated. “Weaving network,” a proposal by Jun Tan and Canna Zhao, took Rem Koolhaas’ notion of frictionless, ‘smooth’ public space to logical extremes, generating a dystopic “weave” of levels and pedestrian and operational flows. “Stitch up,” a proposal by Rob Egerton and Luke Shelton, examined and reimagined the city’s streets as a public space type, questioning the design principles that have shaped the CBD’s street and lanes over time and proposing a hybridization of street and market.

A summary of the studio’s research, representational experiments, conversations and projects will be translated as a Tickle booklet over the upcoming months.


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POST #02 Mid-Semester Reviews

This past week, the TCL studio held its mid-semester review, a discussion of the work produced to date, with critics Perry Lethlean, Ron Jones, Bridget Keane and Jen Lynch. After 5 weeks working independently, students had formed pairs two weeks prior to the review, and the work presented represented hybrid positions and propositions for the site, towards collaborative design proposals. This work was the first iteration of the studio’s “compositions” – design proposals intended to spark messy and productive frictions. The proposals represented a range of approaches/focuses: qualities/configurations of the site’s adjacent streets; the organization of market operations across the site; topography/site layers; thresholds/the site’s heterotopic qualities; programming to make the site more inclusive, productive, revelatory or ethical; and interpretation of the site’s history. Over the second half of the semester, the studio’s seven teams will continue to develop their schemes, with the input of the TCL studio as well as TCL’s ‘usual suspect’ collaborators, who will join the studio weekly to discuss the projects and the studio central research questions.


POST #01 Studio Walls

Exciting research, discussion and representational experiments are underway in the TCL studio, Messy Compositions.

In the semester’s first weeks, the studio undertook a series of collective research exercises to develop a theoretical discourse around friction in public space and the studio’s site, analysing readings by philosophers, social and political theorists and designers and while building a sense of Melbourne’s evolving urban form and public realm.

In the past several weeks, the studio has undertaken a series of experiments in the reading, recording and representation of the city’s formal qualities and the temporal/spatial dynamics of its public realm. Methods have include mapping (identifying structures, morphologies and patterns that might form the basis for compositional proposals) and notation (representing the flux and phenomena of public space – its messiness).

During the upcoming weeks, students will work in pairs towards speculative return briefs for the studio site, progressing towards design proposals that will be developed over the following two months.

Check back with us soon for further updates….

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The cerebral city

A curious exploration of the power of public space, urban design, and finding yourself in a city.

CerebCity_Poster01gIn this documentary, a young Australian woman discovers Melbourne’s quirky public spaces through the narration of a designer who helped transform them from a dying wasteland into vibrant places for people.



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