Hidden, underground stories of a watery city

Hidden, underground stories of a watery city

  • 13 September 2021, 1.30–2.30pm
  • Online

Free, register here
Click the image above to watch the recording

The watery landscapes that once characterised the south-eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay, Boon Wurrung Country, were gradually filled, piped underground, drained or built over through a process of colonial urbanisation. But water must always flow and ecologies find remarkable ways to survive, even underground.

Join Monash's Laura Harper and Catherine Murphy for a discussion panel, followed by an interactive sound and AR experience of Rippon Lea Estate in Elsternwick to explore the hidden and underground water narratives which underpin this well-known colonial site. Hear from geographers, anthropologists and planners to discuss how we can learn from Country, the importance of hearing these stories to protect the vulnerable hybrid natural/artificial/cultural water ecologies under our cities, and how we can leverage creative practice and innovations in AR technology to help us do this.

Panel Convenor

  • Dr Laura Harper (Monash University)
    Laura Harper is a practicing Architect, and a lecturer and researcher within the Urban Lab at Monash Art Design and Architecture faculty. Laura’s research focuses on the understanding how the built environment evolves over time and influence of cultural, environmental and historical factors. Recent research focuses on the relationship between the underground (geology and water) shapes the urban environment over time.


  • Catherine Murphy (Monash University)
    Catherine Murphy is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Monash, where she teaches in the new Master of Urban Planning and Design. She is currently doing her PhD on integrated design and planning processes that foreground water as a driver of urban form. She has worked as a program manger, curator and writer/editor, and started her work life in book publishing.
  • Justin Buckley (National Trust of Australia, Manager SE properties)
    Justin Buckley is the South City Properties & Gardens Manager at the National Trust of Australia. Justin joined the Trust as a Qualified Gardener in 1999 and oversees the management of all National Trust gardens across Victoria while also managing the heritage sites Rippon Lea, Como, Labassa and Glenfern. Justin is particularly interested in building close connections with the local community to develop the key role heritage will play in our cities and towns of the future.
  • Sonia Leber and David Chesworth
    Sonia Leber and David Chesworth’s collaborative practice involves video installation and soundscape composition. Their works have been shown in the central exhibitions of the 56th Biennale of Venice (2015) and the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014). A mid-career survey exhibition ‘Architecture Makes Us’ was curated and toured by Centre for Contemporary Photography (2018-19). Sonia is a Senior Industry Fellow in the School of Art at RMIT University where David is a Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow.
  • Marilu Melo Zurita (Human Geographer, UNSW)
    Marilu Melo Zurita is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Her research has spanned different key areas of geographical scholarship – including groundwater governance, subterranean urban spaces and peri-urban disaster management. Marilu is the founder of Think Deep Australia, an interdisciplinary group interested in the integrated and sustainable uses of what exists underground/underwater.
  • Oscar Raby (Director, VRTOV Virtual Reality Design)
    Oscar Raby is a VR film maker, Co-Founder and Creative Director at VRTOV, Melbourne-based Virtual Reality studio behind the projects The Turning Forest, Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel and Assent. Oscar has a Masters degree in Animation and Interactive Media from RMIT and his graduating work Assent, was part of Sundance New Frontier, IDFA DocLab and Sheffield Doc/Fest as well as festivals in Australia, Canada, USA, Mexico, the Netherlands and the UK.
  • Ana Lara Heyns (Anthropologist, Monash Urban Lab)
    Ana Lara Heyns is a Mexican mestiza and cultural anthropologist. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Urban Lab, Monash University. Her research draws from interdisciplinary perspectives, especially in human geography, identity and tourism, cultural heritage, and decolonising methodologies. Her current research looks at ways in which planners and designers can decolonise their relationships with urban underground rivers. She is also part of the Alliance for Praxis Research, an HDR collective in Melbourne..
  • Xavier Ho (Practitioner-researcher, Monash University)
    Xavier Ho is a hybrid design and software practitioner-researcher at Monash Univeristy and creator of interactive data visualisations such as Roguelike Universe, Smoke and Fire. Prior to joining Monash, Xavier led the Graph Visualisation Engineering team at CSIRO and has also served as an individual contributor for UX design and scientific visualisation where he contributed to the trailblazing the web version of Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT), which won the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
  • Taylor Coyne
    Taylor Coyne is a human geography PhD student in the Environment and Society Group at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Through his work, Taylor explores the relationships between water, sound, urban design, epistemologies, and justice across metropolitan Sydney. Recording sounds of waterscapes across the city has led Taylor to the underground and thinking through how the sounds of subterranean water might offer depth to the way epistemic injustices might be thought of and resolved.

This event is part of the Festival of Urbanism – a series of talks and conversations on planning and making our cities and regions. Brought to you by the Henry Halloran Trust with the assistance of the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, in partnership with Urban Planning and Design at Monash Art, Design and Architecture.

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