In Transit

Master of Architecture
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

  • Rutger Pasman

With the Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) in its initial design stages, challenges for suburban Melbourne become visible in new ways. Now connected, the suburbs can orientate themself in multiple directions. Between a history of a residential haven, a field of knowledge sharing and employment opportunities is present. With increasing pressures to intensify, to accommodate most of Melbourne’s projected 10 million inhabitants, the suburbs will have to change. But how should they? Do they become more urban?

There is opportunity now to investigate how the suburbs will adapt, how they should respond to climate change, the new normal, a changing demographic and new roles for institutions and employers. How do we respond to the idea of the Australian Dream within an intensified suburbia? The suburban backyard bliss of our city is barely existing anymore. Instead we have paved courtyards, multiple driveways and rooms in our houses we barely enter to offset the fallacy of that idea.

Design is a tool to reconsider spatial changes for a new normal. This studio will focus on housing new Melbournians and will use design projects to investigate new and unfamiliar models of urbanising our city. How much does a new normal Melburnian use, contribute, produce? How can that lead to models of housing, working, travelling, entertaining?

Questions such as these are not new. They have been asked, tried, and tested by generations of architects, urbanists and artists. Most of the time the answers or models they produced only infuriated the debate for various reasons. Sometimes they lead to inspiration and discovery. The question of the fifty thousand dwellings we need to build in Melbourne every year for the next 30 years requires different approaches and maybe we should set aside our preconceptions and outdated ideologies and consider the question differently.

We’ll make proposals for new collective housing models with the intent to fulfill the opportunities the suburbs hold. We will design on multiple scales from the room to the territory and question how a balance can be met between the individual and the collective. We will investigate and design for a stretch of suburbia between Monash University Clayton Campus and Glen Waverley, which both will be connected to the SRL. Most of the areas surrounding the proposed SRL stops are already changing, intensifying and growing beyond their suburban ideals, and the SRL will only increase their desirability. How do the modes of urbanisation fit to the new normal, or its inhabitants? Should they? What happens to the places just outside the stations’ reach?