Unearthing Waterways

Master of Architecture
Semester 1, 2022

Studio leader(s)

“The intelligence of Country reveals itself to us if we listen well, observe these connections closely, speak softly, and be ourselves.” – Uncle Charles Moran, Uncle Greg Harrington, and Norm Sheehan. “On Country Learning.” Design and Culture10, no. 1 (January 2, 2018). Page: 78

With relationality as a premise, this studio will rethink the connections of the city to the underground watercourses to understand and speculate on possible sustainable futures of the city. By uncovering and mapping the repressed tributaries beneath the concrete, students will aim to understand the connections between these hidden waters and culture, enacting ways of repairing Country through the learnings shared by Boon Wurrung Elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs. The studio will focus on Respectful Design where students will be invited to walk Boon Wurrung Country and its drained rivers to engage in a relational understanding with Country to tackle the environmental challenges.

Students will work in groups and individually throughout the semester to undertake design propositions at different scales which respond to observations, readings, and class seminars. These focus on responding to the urban water issues in South East Melbourne such as flooding and the expectation of rising water levels.

Students will identify spaces along drained rivers where their designs can respond to these issues but that can also enable ‘yarning’ spaces with these hidden rivers.

Using a relational design, their architectural propositions will provide spaces for the passerby to relate to the river: yarn with it, see it, hear it, feel it, enjoy it, care for it.

Speculations will respond to climate change such as flooding, rising water levels on the coast, and historical dislocation of the origin of the rivers. To respond to these issues, students will incorporate water sensitive approaches to design with water using thoughtful materials.

Schemes are expected to engage closely with the historical, social and cultural context in which the project is placed and will be encouraged to provide bold yet sensitive architectural proposals which challenge urban forms of the city.

We will look closely at the understanding of wider urban issues, along with issues of historical conservation, Indigenous traditional lands, and community space, as well as an understanding of the implications of design on changing urban and suburban contexts.

*This studio is aligned with research, some students will be contacted upon finishing the term to share their credited work within this research.