A new suburban ambition

Master of Architecture
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

By large-scale design we are not simply referring to projects distinguished by their sheer size ... but to those interventions that are able to shape the development of the larger whole. ... the relationship between something that is by definition tangible and finite in its essence (the very scale of architecture) and the wider scale of the contemporary urbanised territory. The term large-scale design does not refer, then, to the identification of an absolute dimension, but rather indicates a ‘relational value’ beyond the concrete limits of the intervention itself. ... Large-scale design is indifferent to styles and responsive only to strategies ... What is crucial in the problem of the large-scale is not the ‘look and feel’ of architecture, but rather its instrumentality towards the reformulation of an idea of the city.

Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara


Ideas, experiences and the form of Melbourne’s suburbs have changed markedly in responses to climate change and population growth. Covid19 has given us cause to re-think the suburbs again. The various lengths and intensities of lockdowns during the pandemic exposed deficiencies in contemporary suburban living, as well as unearthed new spatial potentials amplified by the ingenuity of suburban dwellers. a new suburban ambition will capture the lived experiences of ‘living locally’ during the pandemic, when movement patterns were confined to 5km in Melbourne. Based on these real life reflections, you will be asked to design new hybrid spaces – a blurring of public and private realms – to enhance quality and productivity of contemporary suburbs. While many uncertainties exist around the ways we will live and work in future, the ongoing transformation of the suburbs is inevitable. This studio simply asks, “what do we want the suburbs to become?”

Site & Multi-Scalar Approach

The design interrogations will be undertaken in and around the suburb of Glenroy, in Melbourne’s north. Here, three distinct processes of change are colliding. Conventional dual occupancy redevelopment continues a legacy of low-density housing, while communities and living needs are rapidly diversifying. Ageing industrial areas, built for a former economy and dwindling workforce, lay in wait of contemporary relevance. Finally, upgraded rail infrastructure is shifting the relative position of Glenroy within the city, and re-orienting it’s operational networks away from the CBD. Your projects will operate at the intersection of these changes to enhance the quality and productivity of suburban living. Through a series of multi-scalar group investigations, you will analyse the morphology of settlement in Glenroy and propose alternative arrangements of work, living and amenity at a precinct- scale. Individually, you will then develop a building/site within the precinct to a detailed architectural scale as final outcome.

Experimental & Collaborative

This studio will run in parallel with Urban Planning and Design students, led by Mike Collins. In this multidisciplinary context, you will be asked to consider the changing qualities of the expanding, intensifying and incrementally transforming suburban territories as opportunities for new design operations. You are invited to experiment with novel architectural typologies, explore the instrumentality of design for the future city and reconsider the architect’s role. Your work will inform robust dialogues with a range of government, industry and academic speakers and, COVID permitting, you will have the opportunity to be involved in a design research symposium during Melbourne Design Week.