WESTSIDE STORY interrogates the value we place onto identity, and the relationship between changing demographics and the built environment. Looking at the suburb of Footscray, the studio will examine its social context, its cultural narrative, the recent rapid development and its shifting demographics. Concurrently it will critique the process of urban sanitisation and investigate patterns around gentrification and adaptation. The studio is interested in how ‘identity’ manifests in informal, temporary, and interstitial spaces. Students will observe street life and the public sphere and investigate the way shifts in local populations over the past few decades have altered the urban fabric of Footscray.
The agenda is to create innovative public spaces which draw upon social, cultural, and economic landscapes. The semester’s body of work will include observing, documenting, and categorising street life. These will inform an series of site-specific interventions. Initial projects will be small scale esquisses on sidewalks, this being the interface between public, private, and commercial zones. Students will then respond with a larger architectural proposition in Maddern Square, a spatial by-product of retail backdoors, car parking, pigeons, and an unsuccessful urban renewal. This is the only open space in central Footscray and projects will reactivate it for community use.
Exercises will include movement mapping, atmospheric studies, textural studies and detail drawing, all derived from an acute observation of the site and its conditions. Students are also expected to use writing as a reflective design tool and will participate in a walking tour through Footscray led by the City of Maribyrnong.
WESTSIDE STORY will investigate the city, people, how spaces adapt, and how we relate and react to social and physical environments. The studio views the city not a blank canvas, rather a collection of experiences where historical narratives, changing social attitudes, and fluid demographics influence the built environment.
Yvonne Meng / Naomi Stead