The Rose Garden

Bachelor of Architectural Design
Semester 1, 2021

Studio leader(s)

The Site and Client

Located on the banks of the Maribyrnong River overlooking the central business district of Melbourne is Australia’s longest running community art centre. Founded on an agenda of cultural diversity and exchange, Footscray Community Art Centre (FCAC) provides facilities for contemporary music, performing and visual arts, and delivers over 2000 activities and events every year. Beyond the general public, FCAC’s communities of focus include First Nations people, culturally and linguistically diverse recent arrivals, LGBTQIA and artists with a disability. Over the last two years my practice – Andrew Simpson Architects – along with FCAC has undertaken a precinct planning review to identify how to position the organisation and provide the necessary infrastructure to continue to support a multifaceted and vibrant arts centre. This is also in response to the rapidly changing suburb of Footscray which is witnessing some of the fastest population growth and gentrification of inner Melbourne.

The Brief

This studio will be focussed on a keystone project that has been proposed as part of the FCAC Precinct Plan. In front of the main heritage building – Henderson House – is a circular landscaped area referred to as the ‘Rose Garden’. Developed in the 1980’s, the garden is surrounded by mature trees and lawn and overlooks the river, with spectacular views to the city skyline. The Precinct Plan envisages a new permanent shelter and canopy structure on this site, including technical infrastructure to enable a wide range of outdoor events including music performance, art classes and markets along with an integrated ramp to connect the upper and lower levels of the campus. Students will be challenged to develop an architectural proposition that accords with this vision. This brief offers students the opportunity to interrogate the connections and differences between architecture and art. While these disciplines are intrinsically linked throughout our history of cultural production, from the early 20th century the “idea” has gain primacy within these creative fields. As Donald Judd observed, “everyone wants to treat art and architecture as a matter of taste, when I want to consider it as a matter of knowledge”. Judd was also acutely aware of the tensions between the two disciplines: towards the end of his career he viewed architecture as, “the mortal enemy of the best art”.


To test out questions of translation between idea and built outcome, there will be a very strong emphasis on physical model-making, with digital and 2d forms of representation providing analytical support. Each week students will be asked to produce one physical model that constitutes the material testing of their ideas. The sequence of models that are produced during semester will stand as evidence of the conceptual and iterative development of their thinking. They can be undertaken at a range of scales. In tandem, orthographic drawing, diagrams and notation will be used as a form of analysis and dissection of these models. Any and all methods of physical model making will be encouraged, whether it is cardboard, casting, crochet or the use of cad/cam technologies. Please note that you should expect some material costs during the course of the studio, however this is highly contingent on the individual direction of each project and we will discuss methods of cost control to minimise expense. Readings will be provided at intervals during the semester to provoke further conversation on the relationship between art and architecture, ideas and representation.