Residual Operations 02: Contested Ground + Constructed Landscape

Type: 2nd Year Architectural Design Studio
Location: School of Architecture, University of Queensland
Year: 2015 (sem 1)
Collaboration: Reece Neumann (research)


Contested Ground + Constructed Landscape is the theme for Residual Operations 2. It tests the application field condition theory, surface fluidity and territorial programming in an attempt to construct a synthetic landscape terrain that generates agonistic tension within a broader context.

Situated in a residual territory outside the productive structures of the networked city, the studio considers how public and private influence can be understood as a physical condition and thus explicitly revealed through the operative articulation of site and surface.

Through these investigations, the studio seeks to define landscape as a fluctuating construction of physical and non-physical relationships that condition all forms of inhabitation.

Critically, the studio aims to test ways in which architecture might be produced as landscape as opposed to merely being placed within it.

Landscapes are constructions. They are ontologically shaped as physical forms via political, social, economic and ecological influences.

Many of the landscapes in which we reside are structured to enable the movement and storage of services, information, resources and capital. Spaces of flow and spaces of containment are generally the two conditions of these landscapes. Linked through networked infrastructures determined by the politician, the economist, the logistician, the investor and the civil engineer, they present a territorial totality that is often without bounds or limits.

The city itself constitutes such a landscape. Systems are condensed and intensified to form a central physical entity from where the conditions of flow and containment extend via urbanisation. Within this landscape, the production of architecture (the act of building the city) often results in what is little more than an indifferent by-product of these conditions.

Yet, there also exists a third and counter spatial condition: the residual, comprised of peripheral territories of varying scale outside of flows or containment of their networked surroundings. They present a unique spatial archetype, largely derived from tensions stemming from separation, subtraction and disjunction with their surrounding networked urban environments. By deviating from the productive logic of their surrounds, they offer the possibility for occupation outside of political, economic and social influence.

By investigating the concepts of site and surface as a way of reading and projecting into the constructs of the city, this studio will test the possibility of both constructing and intensifying residual conditions via architectural interventions that look beyond the current approach of indifference.

The semester’s output will focus on the design of public infrastructure project positioned along Brisbane’s isolated and topographically complex North Quay riverbank.

North Quay is a site that has been dramatically affected by ecological impact and prolonged physical disconnection. Literally a residual edge created through the overlay of dominant network infrastructure, it is a non-place sandwiched between the monumental arterials of the Riverside Expressway and the intertidal fluctuations of the Brisbane River. Cyclist access is supported along the river’s edge via the centenary bikeway, however pedestrian movement is largely limited through the site.

While the site is problematic in the conventional sense, it is a significant part of an ever-diminishing network of truly ‘public’ territory: one of the few places within the city itself that is still free of commercial and private influence. In recent years, however, various developers have sought to recontextualise this edge condition as an urban commodity for commercial interests, where their investments in this ‘public’ realm are made explicitly to cater to adjacent private developments.

Emily Bell, Levi Birks, Agatha Chan, Emily Davenport, Adam Holmes-Barry, Wooyoung Jo, Jonathan King, Joshua Law, David Li, Daniel Lonergan, Yasmine Melis, Nino Middleton, Thandi Paterson, Genevieve Quinn, Brendan Roffey, Datao Shen, Joshua Tanner, Kara Welch, Daniel Yang, Caroline Zhang and Peng Zhao.