City Form

Master of Architecture
Semester 1, 2022

Studio leader(s)

Uncovering urban qualities through drawing

“We have to live in a jungle, and maybe we do well by that.” – Rohe, Mies van der, L 1055 cited in Mertens, D, 2001.

Cities are complex ecosystems that constantly evolve. Thev ebb and flow on daily, weekly, seasonal and annual cycles. How do you experience the city during, say, "peak hour", light/dark, leisurely weekends, festivals, protests, semester break, or when Melbourne's weather puts on "four season in a day"? How has technology altered our urban environments and patterns of occupations (how long will we have taxi ranks or petrol stations)? Other changes happen over much longer time-frames. For example, how long does it take to build a train line, regenerate blue-green infrastructure, feel the effects of climate change, or transition from a manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy? Does the built fabric transform before, simultaneously or after these events?

Research-led studies unit: How can we, as designers, engage with these complexities when the questions posed expand beyond the scope of our profession into environmental and social science, economics and politics? How do we decide where and how cities take shape? What scales of thinking are required? And importantly, how do we design something that is in a constant state of change?

Students will interrogate and debate questions such as these to develop a collective research agenda that can support your applied design experiments in studio. You will have the opportunity to hear from government, industry and academic stakeholders involved in the Monash NEIC and discuss the challenges of transforming established suburbs into contemporary cities. Building on these dialogues, we will unpack the suburban condition as a historical urban typology, its present-day quality, and the evolving ambitions for its future transformation.

Through the study of archival material, field visits and design analysis, you will develop an understanding of how cities are delivered on the ground, and by who. By experimenting with different drawing techniques, you will consider the range of hard and soft infrastructures needed to make cities function, while exploring the spatial quality and diversity needed to realise more ambitious (sub)urban scenarios. Case studies will range from city visions, to contemporary technology precincts, to innovative drawing methods employed at different scales Your visual research will involve sourcing historical material such as maps and spatial translation of written accounts, contemporary spatial data such as drawings, policy documents, landscape and demographic analyses, as well as a range of empirical research including original drawings, photographs and diagrams that draw out new relationships between the various primary and secondary source materials. This re-presented, re-drawn work will be captured as an individual folio.