What's the BIG idea...?
The broader ‘Australia’ is largely unknown. The fringe, in which 85% of Australians inhabit, is only a part of the broader whole. A great Australian ignorance pervades; Girt by sea, Girth by Desert. The reality of Australia though, is in fact much more diverse than this.
It is clear as the layers and patterns of this island continent begin to be overlaid, we begin to appreciate the value and influence of the layers; geology, ecology, hard & anecdotal data and historical influences that we begin to understand the nature of Australian habitation. By overlaying the indigenous language map and the commonwealth borders (see image on home page) very different approaches to inhabitation exist, mostly outside our knowing as fringe dwellers.
With changing societal living trends and expectations, increasing urbanism and housing density, the fringe is creeping further from the ground plane into the sky and from the edges to our red center. As the fringe creeps, we have a responsibility in the built environment to have a sensibility, to go beyond replicating and continuing to transpose the generic Anglo-Saxon, mongrel-esque typologies of habitation which exist. To fully understand the reality of our own country it is crucial that we begin to explore, invest in and understand the nature of the entirety of Australia and its respective habitations.
‘The Grand Section’ combines the principles of The Grand Tour; the educational rite of passage looking abroad for inspiration and teaching, and an architectural section; a crucial drawing to understand interrelationships. A participatory Australian based journey attempting to increase our understanding of the reality of Australia, the nature of its habitations and the in-between.
A section, through the guts, from east to west, using latitude 25. Deg as the arbiter to remove preconceptions. Slowness over a 10 month duration, journeying and taking refuge in landscape for shelter.
Where, When + Means...?
'Latitude 25 Deg. is book ended by two islands flanking the island continent.
From most easterly point on Fraser island the journey began February 2017, along the latitude, travelling through fringes, deserts and The Red Centre to the most western point, Dorre Island arriving Late December 2017 - some 7650kms later.
A journey by bicycle, deliberately slowing the pace. An immersive experience forcing a direct interaction and understanding of place, people and stuff.
Both conventional and radical, adhering to proven architectural doctrine whilst breaking the mould of Architect, time was spent in ‘places’ en-route, conversing, observing, listening, documenting, studying and experiencing the variations in habitation.
An exhibition at each place allowed us to document the variations of habitation across Australia and was our exchange with the locals who gave us their time. Showing what we had observed and learned from their town to encourage dialogue of the wider public around Australian habitation proved a powerful tool.
We used a system of tools to produce a rigorous analysis of what we saw, felt and experienced along the journey. As a homogeneous lens, our analysis was dictated by one question; How does Place influence in-habitation? and, a stolen hierarchy of; Place, People, Stuff focused our study, ensuring our analysis did not conform to a conventional architectural appreciation.
Outcome & What's next...?
Mighty Thighes, toned Glutes & Desert Jokes.
A journey beginning to acquaint us holistically with Australia, unveiling the realities of our own country and the potential of architecture. In the process giving us skills, confidence and a direction for our own future agency.
The Final Exhibition, "Girthy; with Slim Edges"
This process of continual documentation, making, participation, exhibitions and dialogue en-route will be collate into a complete exhibition. The exhibition will be a culmination of those en-route that break from the traditional architectural audience into the wider public encouraging a dialogue and broader interaction. A resource provoking and creating a dialogue around the greater Australian condition.
The Grand Section gets chronicled! No need to pedal. Enjoy the trip from an armchair, deck chair or bean bag. Collating our findings & observations as a reflection of the journey, creating a resource for the architecture profession and fellow journeymen.
Bobbie was awarded a prestigious Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarships in 2016. Since 1951, young architects have been awarded these scholarships each year to enable them to travel and broaden their experience, advancing architecture by sharing their insights with the community. The support of the Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship and State Architecture Board is invaluable, and what an honour for The Grand Section to be added to the rich list of Architectural Pursuits.
The School of Architecture and Built Environment, Newcastle University (UoN)
Head of school Sueanne Ware, alumni, staff and professors were in full support of The Grand Section (thankfully), allowing Owen to carry out the journey as his final year of Masters for the five year Architecture degree. Owen thinks it's a great way of getting out of sitting behind a desk for a year.
Again, Sueanne Ware is behind this one. (out)fit is a Newcastle based organisation, affiliated with the University of Newcastle aimed to raise the profile of women working in the built environment. Their objective is to empower and showcase women's skills through activities that directly benefit the people and places of this region.
Together these two groups have gave a pledge that for every 500km's The Grand Section achieves, they will chip in $50! A huge thanks to Sueanne and Emma!