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.


Midsem Models_01 Midsem Models_02 Midsem Models_03
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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