Friday, 17 August, 2012

The studios, covered in scraps of paper and cardboard from floor to ceiling, are a wreck.  The students, asleep on the floors, are barely recognizable amongst those bits and pieces.  A party?  Nope, signs of Master Class – the one week intensive program which takes place ‘each’ semester for all students of the department.

Typically a ‘master’ architect is supposed to come up once a year for this, but I have yet to see this…It’s ok, our department puts together the program when this doesn’t happen.  The essence of the project still works, it’s supposed to provide an alternative mode of learning to the typical week of school.  All other classes are suspended for the week and students work in groups made of classmates from each of the other years.  This provides tutorship possibilities for the older students who guide the younger students in producing the required drawings, models, etc.  The week is full of lecture-produce-pin-up-discussion-produce-pin-up…

This Master Class project is a ‘mall.’  There is ‘one’ in PNG, completed since I’ve arrived, Vision City, I haven’t been, nor have the majority of the students.  In fact, many of the designs the students are asked to come up with are for building typologies they haven’t experienced first hand – their only knowledge of them is via their lecturers, movies and the internet.  This adds a new level to the project complexity, but could also free the students from pre-conceived notions.

I’m not sure that the concept of a mall, as we know it, is appropriate for PNG, it should be re-thought first.  In the one week time frame coming up with something completely new may not be possible but it gives the students the chance to consider what it could be here.  Although the realities of a ‘developer client’ would most likely focus on the economic factors of a project like that (and security issues), not on the social or cultural…

(This is one of our best artists – I’m pretty sure people put on his team are always thankful for that!)

In the design brief students were asked to focus on applying environmental solutions to the building and in most cases that seemed to drive the design.  Given the complexity of issues that needed to be addressed and the program the students worked hard to come up with a number of interesting projects and deserve to finally get some sleep.  




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