Stories

Assemblage

The cultural fabric of cities, covering people and projects across art, architecture, design and cross-pollinated creativity with a focus on local makers and projects through to internationally good ideas.

Glenn Murcutt: Touching the Earth Lightly

Australia's only Pritzker Prize winner is also the award's most unlikely recipient: Glenn Murcutt AO prefers to work alone, and has never built a single structure outside Australia. This choice reflects his dedication to working with the nuances of the local climate and natural conditions. As Glenn's MPavilion opens in Melbourne's Botanical Gardens, AP editor Jana Perković sits down to chat with Australia's most environmentally conscious architect about past and future legacies.

Lesley Lokko: Decolonising Architecture

Just over 2000 years ago, Pliny the Elder uttered: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi” (“Out of Africa there is always something new”). No-one is perhaps better equipped to discuss this idea than Professor Lesley Lokko. Currently Head of the Graduate School of Architecture (GSA) at the University of Johannesburg, Lesley’s perspective is at once critical and confident, exuding the optimism found in the latent potential of her students, yet acutely aware of the varied challenges they face beyond the safe space of her classrooms. Danielle Mileo caught up with Lesley after her lecture ‘What Pliny Said’ at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam late last year, to discuss the challenges around decolonisation and pedagogy in architectural education on the African continent.

Mary Featherston: The Slow Evolution of School

The design of our schools still reflects a belief in a hierarchical society: teachers up the front, students sitting passively. Designer Mary Featherston has been researching and developing learning environments for more than 40 years. She tells AP assistant editor Cat McGauran that young people deserve more from the education system.

Kirsha Kaechele: Transcending the Quagmire

Artist Kirsha Kaechele embraces complexity and contradiction that permeates attempts to do good in the world. Her art projects range from gun buyback programs to cleaning up rivers, and do not necessarily look like art to anyone but her. In her new project for Mona, she is proposing to solve the invasive species problem in Australia - by eating them.

Cascoland Kolenkit: Global Issues, Local Contexts

The neighbourhood of Kolenkit is not the sort of Amsterdam found in tourist brochures. But, in 2010, a group of community artists moved into “the most problematic neighbourhood in the Netherlands” and started working to improve Kolenkit's title. Rob Snelling tells the story of a community repaired with art and ingenuity.

Yandell Walton: Social Change, Small and Large 

Yandell Walton is alarmed by climate change. Emma McRae speaks to the Melbourne projection artist whose ephemeral installations probe the impermanence at the very heart of existence.

Janet Laurence: Empathy for Fragile Creatures

Over 30 years, artist Janet Laurence's installations have explored the interconnectedness of all living things: minerals, animals, us. A deeply ecological sensibility permeates her work, which sits between sculpture, architecture and environment. With her first major survey exhibition now on at Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Rafaela Pandolfini visits Janet's studio to talk feminism, gardening and the Anthropocene.

Place & the Afterlife: French & Mottershead

UK artist duo French & Mottershead invite participants to think again about who they are, and their ties to place and one another. Video, performance, photography and sound are woven together to create tangible stories about living in place, borne out of rigorous research. Recently, at Dark Mofo, they gently led us into death. Cat McGauran met with Andrew Mottershead to discuss life & decomposition.

Future Method: Land, Treaty, Property

Future Method Studio work across architecture, installation and speculative projects. Led by architecture practitioners and pedagogues Joel Sherwood-Spring and Genevieve Murray, Future Method is a unique practice in the Australian architecture landscape to put participation and decolonisation at the heart of their agenda.

Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA: The Artificial Belongs to Nature

Based in Tokyo, SAANA is a multi award-winning architecture practice, renowned for designs that are simple, yet exude a profound sense of purpose. In 2010, architect Keith Little took a highly coveted intern position at SAANA, where he learnt about the philosophy that shapes Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa's practice. Now, he returns to a dialogue with his former mentor.

Assemble: A Contradictory Space

The British architectural collective Assemble (no relation) was founded in 2010, at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, to explore other ways of doing architecture. Today, they are a force to be reckoned with, reforming both the built environment and the art world. Cat McGauran caught up with Jane Hall and Audrey Thomas-Hayes from the Turner Prize-winning collective.

Jack Self: Scepticism & Imagination

It is late 2018, and we're so embedded in a system of global capitalism that at times it seems inevitable. But like any human construct, it is not. Jack Self is an architect, editor and the director of the Real Foundation, a cultural institute that explores alternative models of housing ownership and design of project finance. His mission? To end capitalism.

Carme Pinós: A Social Constellation

For Catalan architect Carme Pinós, form follows social responsibility – beauty is a by-product of an architecture that places people, memory, context and physics first. Pinós's Mediterranean sensibility unfolds in her 2018 MPavilion commission here in Melbourne. She speaks to our editor Jana Perković about how buildings express their structure and architecture as an act of humanity.

Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness

Where European architecture starts with the exterior shape of the building, Asian buildings are imagined from the inside out. Curators of the acclaimed Indonesia Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018, Ary Indra and David Setiadi, elucidate how 'emptiness' is sculpted in Indonesian architecture, one remarkable building at a time.

Paola Balla: Blak Matriarchy

Much of Paola Balla's everyday work involves deconstructing the invisible privilege of whiteness. The Aboriginal artist and curator speaks with Jana Perković about blak matriarchal feminism, and being invited back to curate for a second time at ACCA.

Urbane Künste Ruhr: Art After Coal Mines

Once an industrial hub, Germany's Ruhr region has been forced to change with the global economy. The direction of those changes have been shaped significantly by the public and innovative art organisations like the Urbane Künste Ruhr, writes Manuel Zabel.

Embodying Future Forms: Bhenji Ra

At 23, Bhenji Ra fell in love with the fluid forms of gender expression she found in the Philippines. Eugenia Lim talks to Bhenji about the body as a site of political activism, western notions of gender and the ongoing push for recognition from the wider community.

All The Queens Men: The Poetics of Partying

Many artists dream of the day their art will truly change someone's life. By taking performance out of art venues and into everyday spaces, the folks behind LGBTI Dance Club and The Coming Back Out Ball have done just that.

ZK/U: Workable Utopias

In 2012, a Berlin art collective signed a 40-year peppercorn lease on a disused railway depot in suburban Berlin. Five years later, Centre for Art and Urbanism (ZK/U) has become a recognised hub of urban innovation and social activism. On the eve of ZK/U’s fifth birthday celebrations, Jana Perkovic chats to ZK/U co-founder and director Matthias Einhoff about ZK/U’s past, present and future. 

Marisa Yiu: Prototyping the City

In two years, Marisa Yiu will finally add architecture ‘proper’ to her portfolio, when a built project goes up with her firm among its designers. But, for now, the in-demand architect relishes working beyond built form, in an inventive realm where design advocacy and pedagogy meets the social and cultural development of people and their cities.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles: A Human Being is the Whole World

'After the revolution, who's going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?', asked artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles in her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Eugenia Lim converses with the New York City Department of Sanitation's long-time official artist-in-residence about womanhood, motherhood and the social ecologies of our cities.

David Gianotten: Activating Democracy

Traditionally, the architectural pavilion has offered a site for experimentation and the exploration of new ideas. On the eve of the launch of this year's OMA-designed MPavilion, Esther Anatolitis spoke to David Gianotten (Managing Partner-Architect and director of OMA Asia) about designing for democracy and buildings as infrastructures for public debate.

Edition Office: Amplifying the Everyday

With art-grade site 'portraits' and sculptural building models, Edition Office is not your usual architecture office. On the eve of the opening of their new building for Gertrude Contemporary, Eugenia Lim speaks to directors Aaron Roberts and Kim Bridgland.

Nature as Building Material: WORKac

Edible schoolyards, indoor gardens, urban farms, and above all, a gentle sense of playfulness: New York-based WORKac reimagines buildings at the intersection of the urban, the rural and the natural. Elizabeth Campbell speaks with co-founder Dan Wood about architecture in which plants are just one of the building materials, and nature blends into infrastructure.