The global pandemic of 2020 has drastically changed the ways we work. As initial restrictions on travel and mass-gatherings were renegotiated and intensified, we were forced to confront who we are, what we do and how we do it.
Semester 2, 2020 becomes the first ‘Thematic Semester’ for UoN Architecture, where a specific enquiry shapes questions tackled across design studios and other courses in our programs – connecting us, our cohorts and directing our energy. Our leap into a thematic structure is in part a recognition of the fact that 2020— across drought, bushfires, covid-19 and Black Lives Matter—has called out for collective work, as the platitude “we are all in this together” so frequently reminded us. In an attempt to process what has just happened and where we can go with it, as well as to rebuild a sense of community in our school as we continue to broadcast from a sparsely populated campus, we plan to prototype a new Thematic Semester initiative: Radical Work.
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Semester 2 Studios and Courses
- Design Studio 2
- Design Studio 4
- Design Studio 6
- Design Studio 8
- Design Studio 10
- Arch. Practice
- History Theory 1
- History Theory 2
- Research Strategies
Design Studio 2 offers first year students opportunities to develop a grounded design fluency and adaptive agility. The course has been designed for the challenges of a COVID-responsive world, and explores the Semester Thematic – Radical Work – through both grounding (radicality as going back to the ‘root’) and the effort (work) required in order to learn. The studio program propels students through a series radically adaptive design exercises, or weekly mini-projects. A focus on the ‘adaptive’ is about taking something given, or at hand, and adapting it to a situation, even as that situation changes. The studio is emphatically anti-tabula-rasa – proposing that there is never a ‘clean slate’ upon which a designer impresses their ideas.
Course Coordinator: Prof. Pia Ednie-Brown
Assuming the conceptual role of the ‘digital flaneur’, students will actively discover and explore a variety of ‘surface’ qualities of the Callaghan Campus. The theme––Surface––questions the dynamic and transformative aspects of surfaces, prompting the exploration of expected and unexpected design outcomes through various techniques of data collection and analysis.
This studio questions received notions of architectural practice: how we view public space through the lens of technology as operational definitions to interrogate, explore and outline radical propositions.
Course Coordinator: Dr Nic Foulcher
A City within the City
Design Studio 6 presents students, organised as small architectural firms, with the problem of designing a city for 6,000 people on a former industrial site on Newcastle’s urban periphery. It frames this task as an opportunity to propose ‘a city within the city’; an alternative community located within, yet operating independently of, its surrounding urban context. Course materials explore the nature of the distinction between private and public, and their spatial correlates (the individual dwelling and the city), in order to rethink architecture’s capacity to affect change at an urban scale. Fundamental to these explorations is the idea of domesticity, understood in terms of political economy. How do the ways in which we live produce and reproduce a wider social order? What role does the individual household play as an administrative device within our socio-economic and political structures? How can the domestic serve as the site for an affirmative politics; for a more evenly distributed and care-ful future?
Course Coordinator: Dr Jasper Ludewig
Design Studio (4th Year) is structured into a number of tutor-led themes and will explore complex issues associated with architecture’s agency in the social, economic and ideological conditions we face. The studio will explore the overall theme of ‘Radical Work’ by re-viewing the typology of the campus (Callaghan) and exploring its alternatives. A key focus of the studio is about learning to care about our impact on the world through design – how do we establish common ground?
Course Coordinator: Emma Wood
Team 10: Final Design Thesis Project
Studio 10 is intimately connected with the Thematic semester. The polyphony of voices will help to articulate 5th year students’ research challenges and designs, throughout “critically” and “radically” revisit their research, to make them work.
The way the semester is organised is a collective construction: workshops, organised with 4th year, where the Visiting “voices” are invited; followed by workshops, conducted and peer-reviewed by students every other week, and focus on helping each other and work collectively and collaboratively.
Course Coordinator: Dr Irene Perez-Lopez
In the context of today, it is critical to ask who we are, why do we do what we do, and how do we do it? – as individuals and as a collective profession.
Architectural Practice will explore the thematic of “Radical Work” through a series of case studies, workshops and symposia. We will stand back and re-view the value of practice and the role professionals play in shaping our environment. What does it mean to be ‘radical’ and why the urgency?
History Theory 1
The word ‘radical’ derives from the Latin radic, meaning ‘root’, and it is a root structure that inspires our approach to History + Theory in the Built Environment 1. In their 1980 work A Thousand Plateaus, the philosophical duo Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari presented ‘the rhizome’. Drawn from biological concepts of the radicle-systems and fascicular roots, they propose ‘the rhizome’ as a new system of valuing knowledge, as an alternative to the largely entrenched dichotomous and hierarchical nature of science and ‘objectivity’. In summary, the rhizome values multiplicity and pluralism.
This philosophy is the approach to history that we will take in History + Theory 1.
Course Coordinator: Dr Sarah Josefiak
PhD Research Strategies
Creative Practice research can be understood in relation to ‘radicality’ in the terms defined in the Thematic overview statement: a “rethinking of the ways in which we work to clarify the values, relationships and objectives—the root causes—that might affirmatively reshape work into the future.”
All research is fundamentally creative, but creative practice research critically re-emphasises this, and calls for a rethinking and reframing of conventional research assumptions; it actively reshapes the conventions of research as work.
Research Strategies support for PhD candidates occurs through workshops, gatherings and events in which strategies for researching through creative practices are discussed and developed.
Chair, Creative Practice Research: Prof Pia Ednie-Brown
Electives: Intensive Architecture Studio Projects
Architecture Studio Project courses are amazing opportunities for students to complete coursework, while engaging with different cultures and communities, and other forms of practice, through an immersive architectural experience. We’ve been running these courses since 2016, and students have travelled to many parts of the world, engaging with different cultures, while using their knowledge and skills to contribute to some very real and important projects. Students find these courses rewarding experiences, life affirming and sometimes life changing.
Course Coordinator: Dr Chris Tucker