Better Together: Stories of Contemporary Documents

Better Together: Stories of Contemporary Documents

An exhibition of work curated by Guillermo Fernández-Abascal, Kate Finning and Urtzi Grau with Anna Tonkin, Charles Choi, Jack Cooper and SPGD.

Recent exhibitions of architecture depict a discipline in a battle between escapist claims for autonomy and approaches to research that are removed from the discipline entirely. The exhibition label is the arena, the artefacts on display are the evidence. The description-less label provokes the viewer to attempt to understand the artifact alone, whereas the lengthy essay-like description suggests the document on display acts as nothing more than a prop. Better Together: Stories of Contemporary Documents emerges at the intersection of this battle. Its collection of documents and stories re-evaluates the construction of this dichotomy.

The exhibition presents thirty three documents of contemporary Australian architecture and the associated stories. The definition of architectural documents is expansive, encompassing working drawings, correspondence, mockups and contracts; formats that expose the unique processes of contemporary architectural production. We suggest that the ability of architecture to have effect in the world resides in these very specific documents that allude to the modes through which contemporary architecture circulates but also suggest how architecture is produced today.

Each architectural document is coupled with a story. The stories redefine the function of traditional museum labels, questioning how the curators choose to speak on behalf of the artefacts on display, inert by-products of material culture and the natural world. From literary representations, to visual descriptions, the object’s accompanying text mediates the visitor experience, providing context or meaning, often acting as fictions that contribute to the work.

Once on display, the text and the object work together to provoke a discourse on what it means to exhibit architecture today. The couples serve to question the possibility of architecture to exist as its own form of communication.

Located at the centre of this discussion, MADA Gallery is the site not only for the show - it is also the host of current debates around curation, museology, exhibition design, and the position of architecture exhibitions in cultural production.


  1. Concrete core sample of Kapitbahayan Housing Cooperative by MAPA Art & Architecture
  2. Foundation detail of Three Capes Track Hiking Lodges by Andrew Burns
  3. Timothy Hill’s profile for The Monthly by David Neustein (Other Architects)
  4. Window mockup from Armature for a Window by panovscott
  5. Shop drawing for the Tables at University of Sydney undergraduate studio by Bennett & Trimble
  6. Email correspondence with client by Trias
  7. Furniture for Versailles by Catseye Bay
  8. Jury report of the competition for the Green Square Library by City of Sydney
  9. Construction pictures by Hamish McIntosh of Belmore Preschool by Supercontext
  10. Model of Federal House by Edition Office
  11. Suzanne Dance’s Wikipedia website by WikiD (Parlour, Architexx and n-ails)
  12. Video of the model of the House with a Guest Room by Andrew Power
  13. ABC Radio National podcast on Chronic Sleeping Disorder by Bloxas
  14. Fragment of Bush Camp 1 by Richard Stampton
  15. Chair for New Agency exhibition by Sibling
  16. Newspaper article reporting the revamp of Kalora Park Football Club by WOWOWA
  17. Video recording from the ballot of Nightingale Park Life by Austin Maynard and Nightingale Housing
  18. Recycled block of Sawmill House by Archier
  19. Photograph of the process of lifting Teneriffe House by Vokes and Peters
  20. Column of Cottesloe Lobby and Landscape by Simon Pendal
  21. Planting schedule of garden from the courtyard of Cloister House by MORQ with Alessio’s Gardens
  22. Prototype of children’s playground for Southbank Boulevard by Mike Hewson
  23. Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand by AACA
  24. Apartment plan from the Better Apartments Design Standards by The State of Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
  25. Renders by Charles Choi of the Longhouse by Partners Hill and the House in the Hill by Sean Godsell
  26. Construction details of 8 Yards House by Studio Bright
  27. Film from Teatro Della Terra Alienata by Grandeza + Bajeza
  28. Cladding panel of Shwarmama by Anthony Gill and Springhill House by Lovell Burton
  29. Masters design thesis on Indigenous housing in remote Australian communities by Sarah Lynn Rees
  30. Photo by Rory Gardiner of Baracco + Wright moving house
  31. Signage for Landscape as Protagonist by Molonglo with graphic design by U-P
  32. Reproduction of the wall that separates the kitchen from the living room in a Mehr home in Iran by Samaneh Moafi
  33. Christopher Frederick Jones' photography of One Room Tower by Phorm architecture + design with Silvia Micheli and Antony Moulis


Gold sponsor: Lyons

Bronze sponsor: Woods Bagot

This exhibition is possible with the support and cooperation of Monash University and University of Technology Sydney. We also wish to thank the 33 participants across Australia for making this show possible. We are grateful to Melanie Flynn and the staff of Monash University for giving Better Together: Stories of Contemporary Documents its first home.

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