Expanded Field | RMIT
'Expanded Field' was a research elective at RMIT University which each fortnight, looked at a different esquisse to research site, place, form, program, and the approach one might take to all of these starting points.
Site / Representation - Sand Helsel
“The site is a major component of the Major Project (and particularly in the Expanded Field research stream). It will provide the context for your proposals. Most maps lie, or express the biases of the mapmaker. We expect you to become biased mapmakers.
This esquisse is intended to expand the means and possibilities for interrogating site. Sites are not merely selected; they are designed through the process of representation. You need to ‘design’ the site of you Major Project through the process of mapping.
Mapping implies intent – selection, analysis, critique. You will be expected to have a first-hand experience of and engagement with the site, and represent it accordingly. Representation is not description. It can be used strategically to expose hidden site phenomena. Note that tracing existing maps is not mapping, or an adequate form of representation. The uncritical use of (un-manipulated) photography will not be considered a medium.”
Redesign - Graham Crist
“This esquisse involves redesigning a work of architecture of your choice. Architecture depends on a site or location and it depends on a program or a user. Buildings however exist partly in our metal space, or imagination, independent of these physical things. So, we can think about architecture independent of site and program, and transfer its ideas into new formats and locations.
It is important to understand where our architecture comes from, how it relates to a body of knowledge. This is often helped by examining precedent. The development of our judgement is similarly important. Choosing the building, determining what we like, what we think is important, is a part of our design process. Understanding the flaws in something important is important in moving forward. Separating the work from the architect who created it helps this.
It is hard to do good architecture if you don’t love architecture. Things we like are very motivating in the design process. It is not necessary to be detached in order to be critical. There is nothing dumb in saying ‘I like this because…’ or ‘I hate this because…’ ”
Program Investigation - Mel Dodd
“This esquisse is intended to examine and unpack the idea of program – to really interrogate the term and consider it with precision and freshness. What is program? At its simplest interpretation the program of a building is what happens there; how people USE and OCCUPY the space and to what purpose. It is what you DO in a place. Functionalism is a much used expression to describe the (connected) relationship between human activity and form. However, the term can be reductivist; a narrow and empirical way of classifying social activity, as if life were just a series of mechanical tasks, eating, ablutions, working, reading, dining etc. Use can and should involve misuse, appropriation, unexpected events and idiosyncrasies.
Human activity is a much richer sequence of events and situations motivated by emotional, economic, political and psychological complexities and nuances. These ‘other’ infrastructures – social, economic, political – are arguably more profound structures of everyday life than the built structures which accommodate them, and yet they are often invisible in comparison to the physical environment we inhabit. Consequently there are often marginalised in conventional architectural investigations and recordings. This esquisse will be an opportunity to foreground the ‘lived’ realm in your observation.”