MADA students present designs to the Victorian Governor

Nineteen Monash Art Design & Architecture (MADA) students, along with lecturers Alysia Bennett and Wil Goodsir (Goodsir Architecture) visited Victoria’s Government House today, 14 June. They were there to present their concepts for a suite of architectural elements to be considered for installation at the House’s ‘Peace and Prosperity’ kitchen garden, a new space being developed for migrant and refugee women. Monash was one of four universities invited by the Governor to respond to a design brief for the recently established kitchen garden program.

Their concepts were revealed to The Governor, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC, and a distinguished panel that included Dr Tracey Avery from the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, Ewan McEoin, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), landscape designer Paul Bangay, and others.

The MADA students used a variety of mediums to take their presentation beyond a simple slideshow. Using MADA’s laser cutting, CNC router and wood workshop facilities, the students crafted a number of intricate scale models and 1:2 scale prototypes. The models, supported by drawings and a fly–through of their two proposed designs, helped the panel to visualise and understand the relationship between the various elements as well as demonstrate the buildability of schemes. If selected, Monash proposes to run a Design Make studio, similar to those that produced the Caulfield Sound Shell (2016), MONA’s Heavy Metal Retaining Wall (2015) and the award winning Stawell Steps (2014), providing students with the unique opportunity to learn from the hands on process of translating a sketch design into a built outcome.

The design brief from the Governor encouraged students to submit a variety of ideas, in order that some or all of them may be drawn from to determine the final design. MADA students responded with two independently conceived suites, “Jenina Al Mahaba Wal Salam" (an Arabic translation meaning “The Garden of Love and Peace”) and “The Arbor”. MADA Lecturer Alysia Bennett explains the direction behind each one:

“‘Jeninat Al-Mahaba wal-Salam / The Garden of Love and Peace’ uses the Victorian Coat of Arms as a motif, extracting and abstracting elements of it for use across the design’s various pieces. The students discussed Government House’s motto of ‘Peace and Prosperity’ with the women in the kitchen garden program who suggested that to them the garden provided a space of ‘peace and love’. The phrase stuck with the students who have chosen to title their work respectfully in both English and with the Arabic translation to reflect the multicultural nature of the space. The abstraction of the coat of arms and the translation of the motto aims to simultaneously break down and embed the institutional symbols to make a more informal gathering space distinctly associated with Government House.

‘The Arbor’ uses the notion of the weaving to represent the program’s ambition of assisting the assimilation of new migrant women into the Melbourne community, a common feminine crafting technique indigenous to the communities that many of the women represent and the way that plants take over structures as they reach towards the sun. Arbors are pervasive throughout their design, and can be seen forming an entry archway, an extensive shade structure and a central pergola which is wrapped in the old metal gates from the original 19th century garden that occupied the same space; paying homage to the unique heritage of the site.

Both designs are incredibly creative, while being eminently practical. Wil and I are really proud of the work that the students and have done, and we’re thrilled at the opportunity to be part of such a valuable community program. We’re really looking forward to seeing how other universities have responded to the Governor’s brief and don’t envy the panel’s task to select elements to be built!”

Regardless of the outcome, the project has already been a special opportunity for the students, enabling them to experience design outside the classroom by interacting with the kitchen garden participants and responding to a real brief from a real client. If their designs are ultimately selected, they’ll gain the unique experience to participate in the realisation of their creations on-site.

The Office of the Governor is expected to announce their final decision later in 2017.

To learn more about the project, visit: