© Peter Bennetts 2013

Melbourne Now countdown – day 58

Sampling the City: Architecture in Melbourne Now aspires to reveal the complex web of personalities, factions and trajectories that make up Melbourne’s vibrant contemporary architectural culture.

The display – presented on Level 2 of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia – provides a moment for reflection and asks: What are the ideas and themes that inform Melbourne’s design culture? Who are its agitators and protagonists? How are emerging architects driving new ways of thinking?

As one of three invited design curators for Melbourne Now the process of developing this project is proving to be an intense yet highly rewarding experience.  As is often the case, the process of conceptualizing the display is collaborative and plural.  This is the part of the process that I find most compelling – the making of the exhibition to clearly articulate the ideas within the project via the careful consideration, curation and composition of the content.

I’m fortunate to be working with a creative team of highly skilled and talented collaborators – leading the exhibition design are Amy Muir and Stuart Geddes; soundscape and projection design is by Keith Deverell; built environment imagery by Peter Bennetts and architectural narrative by Michael Spooner.

The past few months have been spent developing the themes, collecting a diverse range of imagery, working with the studios and experimenting with the sequencing of the work. As a result the project is being developed in four distinct yet linked parts:

• A ‘super graphic’ introduction installation sampling Melbourne’s contemporary architectural culture

• An immersive projection space with architectural and documentary-style imagery related to twenty-five Melbourne architects and curated to five themes: representation and the city; craftsmanship and materiality; art-engaged practice; stitching the city; and bio-futures / advanced architecture

• An incubator / studio environment providing insight into the processes of six leading Melbourne architects: Studio Bird, Cassandra Fahey, Studio Roland Snooks, Make Architecture, March Studio and Muir Mendes

• An intimate screening room with a compelling video artwork by Matthew Sleeth that documents a small child’s experience of architecture.

Over the next few weeks we are working on resolving the design of the narrative wall, recording interviews in a sound pod with our invited ‘projection room’ architects (these will be extracted into the project’s soundscape) and working with the studio practices to test their installation concepts for the ‘incubator’ room.

For our next blog post, I’ll report back with behind-the-scenes imagery of our testing process and site meeting with Cassandra Fahey, Rodney Eggleston and AnneLaure Cavigneaux from March Studio; Roland Snooks from Kokkugia; Melissa Bright from Make Architecture; Matthew Bird from Studio Bird and Amy Muir and Bruno Mendes from Muir Mendes – an impressive pool of talent so we can expect big things to come!

Sampling the City is supported by the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation.