ross mcleod - andrea mina - roger kemp


'She bought a map of Paris, and with her fingertips she went for walks. She followed the boulevard, stopping at every corner, between the lines indicating the streets, in front of the white squares that were houses. Then closing her tired eyes, she would have a shadowy vision of gas lamps flickering in the wind and carriage steps clattering open in front of theatres.' - Gustav Flaubert - Madame Bovary 1


The Metropolis studio sought a broad understanding of the inner city of Melbourne. We were not concerned with the main thoroughfares; rather the laneways, alleyways, side streets and arcades. Students were asked to create a map expressing observations, sensations, physical phenomena and experiences of chosen sites. The map was intended to enrich the understanding of the environment in order to fuel further design decisions. It codified the elements that each student felt important, expressing them in a graphic format that displayed specific gradation, intensity and interaction of phenomena.

Beyond the purely analytical and sensorial, the mappings searched for what could be the essence of the city. Mapped phenomena included vertical and horizontal elements, form, colour, smells, sounds, surfaces, light and shadows, reflections, wind, traffic patterns, human movement, historical traces and future potential. The maps were to be both empirical representations and works of art.

Students developed a personal language of the city to use as a base for a spatial narrative. They explored ideas of transition in developing architectural elements, devices and details which transformed, distorted and repeated to create spaces. Using the formal framework of modelmaking, students began to experiment with the language of architectural form. The final project asked students to design an 'event' which would take place on a specific site. Rather than merely proposing static architectural forms and typical programs of usage, students were asked to extend the boundaries of interior design practice and its interaction with urban space.

The act of interior design is not only that of designing buildings, but of offering new ways of thought, life and interaction for people involved in that building. A developed understanding of the social and technological directions taking place both locally and globally creates a conceptual framework on which to base design decisions. From these insights into the way of the world a scenario for a site and its potential development can be formed. New relationships between spaces and their inhabitants can be extrapolated and new ways of occupying the city can be imagined.


1. Flaubert, Gustave, Madame Bovary, Mark Overstall [ed], London, Harrap, 1979