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.

Social Sense: MGS Architects

Can architects be agents for social change? Rob McGauran of MGS Architects in Melbourne speaks to Emily Wong about ‘meaningful’ architecture and ideas that aim to transform the city.

Mel Bright: MAKE on making change

Even the smallest acts of architecture have the capacity to make generous – and genuine – contributions to the greater urban fabric of a city. It only takes a short conversation with Mel Bright, founding director of Melbourne-based architectural practice MAKE, to determine just how pivotal that approach has been in all of the practice’s work.

Pushing The Limits of Representation: Bêka & Lemoine

Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine aren't your average filmmakers – their 'Living Architectures' series shuns idealised representations of architecture in favour of a more experiential approach. We caught up with Louise Lemoine to find out the story behind 'The Infinite Happiness', a documentary that looks inside the world of Bjarke Ingels's 8 House project in Copenhagen.

Offset House: framing Australian suburbia

"If the language of the McMansion is merely a veneer, shouldn’t Australian architects see right through it?" So ask Grace Mortlock and David Neustein of otherothers with 'Offset House', their un-supersized suburban house project currently on show as part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. Here they reflect on their downsized Australian dream.

Hawapi: Outside in the Anthropocene

HAWAPI is a site-specific art residency held in a different location in Peru each year: from post-earthquake Pisco to the remote Pariacaca, a tropical glacier above Lima. In the lead up to this year’s edition, Eugenia Lim asked festival director Maxim Holland about HAWAPI’s philosophy of art with purpose and poignancy.

Social Structures: Takaharu Tezuka

“Architecture is consciously made to support those cultural activities and social structures that are unique to human beings... it may be described as the nexus for all human activities.” Takaharu Tezuka speaks with Maitiú Ward about the enduring influence of Richard Rogers and the importance of the humble roof as a social structure in the work of Tezuka Architects.

Otherworldly Architecture: AL_A

Melbourne will play host to its own AL_A project over summer: the 2015 MPavilion, the second temporary architectural structure in the Naomi Milgrom Foundation’s series to grace the Queen Victoria Gardens. Rain or shine, Maitiú Ward finds the prospect of an open air AL_A MPavilion an intriguing one.

CUCULA: All Together Now

Worldwide, our treatment of refugees leaves much to be desired. As the Guardian’s Ian Traynor writes, “immigration is one of the most toxic and incendiary topics in the national politics of so many countries". At a micro level, collectives such as Berlin’s CUCULA are countering hostility through collaborative design. Eugenia Lim speaks to co-founder Corinna Sy about crafting a culture of welcome.

Clare Cousins in the meeting room at the Blackwood Street Bunker. Photograph by Daniel Aulsebrook.

Clare Cousins: Buildings to Breathe In

Clare Cousins remembers The Barbican. She was eight years old and living in London. Her father, a specialist surgeon had brought the family to the city via Berlin, and young Clare had her eyes open. She couldn’t articulate it at the time, but the Barbican’s imposing structure and raw textural qualities made an impression. Nadia Saccardo talks to Clare about her team's “collaborative, small-steps approach.”

Modesty and materiality: Keiji Ashizawa

Keiji Ashizawa’s hats are many. As an architect, product designer and erstwhile steel fabricator, his work spans vast luxury residences to tiny tealight holders. There’s a common vernacular no matter the size or context – a lightness and conciseness informed by Japanese simplicity, modernist pragmatism and a deep understanding of his materials.

Social Architecture and (un)sustainability: NORD Architects Copenhagen

Johannes Molander Pedersen and Morten Rask Gregersen, founding partners of Danish architectural firm NORD, met when working and studying in London. Returning home to a stagnant construction industry and economic crisis in their native Denmark, they began practicing without buildings – a social architecture in lean yet progressive times.

Rebel Architecture: Ana Naomi de Sousa

Launched last year by Al Jazeera English, 'Rebel Architecture' is a six-episode documentary series that explores the work of six socially engaged architects who all use the built environment to effect change in their own regional context. British journalist and filmmaker, Ana Naomi de Sousa, produced the series and directed two episodes within it. She visited Melbourne earlier this year

The science of citizens: Natalie Jeremijenko

Global climate specialists have a way of banding together for Natalie Jeremijenko. But, instead of hailing from chemistry labs or policy offices, they live in water, soil and the air we breathe—and they dance the biochar-cha-cha. These unconventional collaborators are the mussels, microbes, amphibians, fish and other ‘cross-species’ Jeremijenko so admires, whose behaviours are fundamental to her work.

Fallen wood, sabi spoons: Eugene Howard

Like the smooth cup of a shell, or the curve of a well-worn stone, Eugene Howard senses potential in roughly hewn timber, "there's a spoon waiting in every piece of wood". This new perspective quickly reveals hundreds of not-yet-realised spoons in his garden alone. As the world rushes by, Eugene's practice highlights the timelessness of objects within our daily sphere.

Workers empty sacks of freshly delivered organic cotton. Photo courtesy of Kowtow

Kowtow: conscious consumption

Kowtow is a rising Kiwi label forging a formidable and successful path forward in the pursuit of sustainable fashion. Anna Hickey sat down with Wellington and London-based founder and art director, Gosia Piatek, to find out more about the the label's genesis, Gosia's approach to doing business ethically and the reasons behind her insistence on 100% organic fair trade cotton.

Clinton Murray’s House for Pam

With their signature timber facades, the residential projects of architect Clinton Murray remain quintessentially of the Australian coastal spirit. Both in borrowing from, and camouflaging with, their often-natural surroundings, he creates homes that recall the history and texture of the bush – not least because reclaimed timber is his material of choice

ELBOWRKSHP: A Studio at the Centre

Just off the Stuart Highway in Alice Springs, cornered to the west by a red rocky outcrop and to the east by a smash repair shop frequented by police troopies and dented Winnebagos, is Elbowrkshp–a creative space run by designer Elliat Rich, and bespoke shoemaker James B. Young.

Michael Madsen Interview: Halden Prison

With the intention of defying the notion of prison as a house of vengeance, Norway’s Halden Prison has become an incredible case study in incarceration as rehabilitation. Director Michael Madsen chose Halden as his subject for the Wim Wenders-led documentary, Cathedrals of Culture. Emily Wong talks to Madsen about his choice of subject, and the idea of architecture as power.

SPACEMARKET

Perth’s been hiding some long-languished spaces – a blanket of sunburnt rooftops, heritage buildings left to lose their vigour. In response, local architects Nic Brunsdon and Beth George created Spacemarket. The goal at the heart of this ambitious curatorial project - of pairing disused spaces with useful people – is a nexus that aims to augment the city.

MPAVILION: A BRIEF HISTORY & USER’S GUIDE

This week Melbourne welcomed the inaugural MPavilion architectural commission to its Queen Victoria Gardens. This unique and site-specific structure, represents a new conversation around cultural philanthropy and public spaces. It's also going to be a fantastic place from which to enjoy the warm months ahead.

Gallery Oh by Sarah K

Sarah K is the awe-inspiring super-lady behind countless Australian design projects, ideas and collaborations. Oh is her tiny corner-mounted gallery in Sydney, the definition of small footprint, which exhibits unique dimension-specific works from some of the world’s most interesting and renowned designers. Bringing Oh to Melbourne for a retrospective at Mr Kitly, Sarah reflects on the life of the gallery so far.

The local in the global: Future Living Studio

In 2013 as a part of the UN Environmental Program, designer Philippa Abbott spent four months in Vietnam working on a Sustainable Product Innovation Network (SPIN) project – the third iteration of The Future Living Studio. Collaborating with a team of Vietnamese, French and German designers, the team worked to develop a body of applied research and a collection of workplace furniture that showcased local

Testing Grounds: These are the projects we do together

Off Sturt Street, beneath the blue glow of a neon sign you’ll find a tapered triangle-shaped plot of concrete and wild plants – Testing Grounds, an open-air arts space that is free and open to the public every day of the week. What began as a short-term summer tenancy has now extended to 12 months.

House Vision: Kenya Hara

Kenya Hara's 'House Vision' unites future-thinking companies with architects, designers and artists to propose innovative new ways of living. It inspires us to curate living space for our personality and our lifestyle. In our latest offering from kindred publication Ala Champfest, we learn more about the project via an excerpt from 'Design as Awakening', an interview with Hara by editor Joanna Kawecki.