Encounterculture proposes a series of spatial interventions in Melbourne’s CBD, that act as a social catalyst in response to the new distant reality of urban life. Through multi-sensory design, the proposal explores alternative ways people can feel intimacy between each other and their surroundings, in response to the disconnect many feel since “social” (in reality physical) distancing rules were implemented. Located in an under-utilised laneway, the proposal transforms what was once an urban void into an ‘urban interior’, building on existing sociologist theories of ‘third spaces’ to form a ‘fourth place’ - a contemporary public setting for informal social interaction among strangers.


Softspace is a multi-sensory environment to revitalise your senses and escape from the mundane.


A soft undulating landscape of suspended translucent sheets, changing lights, projections and an eclectic mix of textures. Softspace provides spaces to linger and spaces to retreat. The installation is a transitional space that will also allow for seated experiences when restrictions allow.' Lose yourself, find yourself, explore.


Softspace features an ‘Embrace Hub’, which is a pneumatic structure that
mimics the feeling of a soft embrace. As a visitor steps into the arc, motion
sensors activate the air vent to slowly blow air into three sections, inflating
them into bubbles that enclose the participant.


Playful interventions on the existing facade and streetscape reclaim the urban interior.
Water pipes are reutilised as interactive tubes that play recordings of people answering questions from psychologist Arthur Aron’s 36 QUESTIONS, an experiment from 1967 that promises to lead to love by fostering closeness through mutual vulnerability. The existing rigid facade of the site (left) is transformed into a public interface through depth and tactility, blurring the threshold between interior and exterior.


The small scale structure is made of repurposed construction materials such as timber and steel. Whilst unassuming from the outside, participants find themselves transformed into another world as they step in, in a private moment of connection with a stranger. The BeeGees’ To Love Somebody plays through the speakers, which runs for exactly 3 minutes, indicating the time participants are recommended to stay.
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