Residual Operations 01: Architecture as interstructure

Type: 3rd Year Architectural Design Studio
Location: School of Architecture, University of Queensland
Year: 2014 (sem 2)
Collaboration: I-Wen Kuo (research)

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Focused on the relationship between architecture and the broader forces that contextualise it, Residual Operations has introduced students to the idea of context in an etymological sense: that is, the weaving together of different conditions, factors or elements that may have social, economic or political influence. If we think of the city as a context, it is the interweaving of these non-physical factors that shapes the city as a physical condition. In an Albertian sense, if the city can be read as architecture and architecture as the city, then these conditions must also directly influence the building of architecture as a physical form.

Operating on a super system of interlinked network infrastructures, cities are now shaped more by the flow of goods, services, information and resources - together with the containment capital - than by any idealised notion of architectural design. Largely determined by the economist, logistician, planner and civil engineer, such systems have developed either in separation to, and often in conflict with, the historical forms of the city, or have seen the city’s replacement as a historical form entirely. Either way, the city and its surrounds have become a landscape without bounds or limits: infinitely complex and ever-more sprawling from its centre.

It is within this context that we, as architects, are increasingly faced with only two modes of operation: to simply see architecture as the indifferent byproduct of these influences or instead as a practice that can respond to, critique and subvert the contextual conditions from which the profession stems.

As such, the studio centered on the initial staging of a hypothetical cross-river expansion of the University of Queensland’s St Lucia Campus into neighboring southern suburbs, comprising of a recreational gymnasium, waste water recycling facility and chilled water thermal energy storage plant. The work investigated how such infrastructures could both allow for future densification and also subvert it by preserving existing public space and parkland.

This included:

The Territorial:
Terrain Vague - The design of residual territories operating outside of the productive structures of the network city.

The Formal:
Interstructural Artifact - The transformation of infrastructural systems into autonomous and civic architectural forms.

The Functional:
Programmatic Composition - Conditioning spatial tension via the co-location of distinct and diverse programmatic typologies.

Twenty-six projects have emerged testing how architecture can be used as a formal tool to reestablish a dialogue between infrastructure, program, landscape, and the city and its context. More importantly, the projects also acknowledge the broadened scope that architecture must engage with to ensure its relevance as a critical practice.

Lucia Aimes, Olivia Bancroft, Prithwi Chakraborty, Phillip Chung, Simon Cook, Andrew Costa, Jack Freemantle, Rohana Fullarton, Megan Halliday, Ben Hooper, Russon John, Maddison Keaveny, Chong Kim, Gyu Seok Lee, Shijie Liu, Jiamin Lu, Christopher McMillan, Samuel Michel, Isabel Narvaez, Anna Van Phan, Seon Oh Song, Samuel Stair, Jay Stocker, Lewis Wilson, Jiaao Yu and Siti Nadiah Zainurin.