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Architecture and the Event

By Mietta Mullaly 

The Event can be thought of a disruption to normality, a breakaway or overturn of an accepted social order.
It can be sudden, significant and have a widespread impact – uniting dislocated places through a moment in time. 

Architecture, a discipline concerned with the ‘form’ of things, can use the event as a mechanism for instigating positive change - harnessing the departure from normality to ‘reform’ the way we live.

i. A proposal for a detached classroom so that schools may resume at full capacity. To be deployed on vacant sites across the whole of Melbourne – a contribution of consistency to the place. The space has been designed around a 1.5m metric with a grid of built in stools and desks to the perimeter. Circulation is a choreography of sorts, with only two points to dwell (if you’re the teacher) and just enough for the students to pass through. Porous materials line both the interior and exterior to minimise the potential spreading of the virus.
This proposal has been visualised next to the Royal Park cricket oval, across from St Michaels Primary School. 

ii. Street tiles for keeping our distance. A small but widespread intervention to the footpath/entryways of markets, grocery stores and the like. 

The LaCrosse tower fire in 2014 and the subsequent fire of the Neo200 apartments in the Docklands has sparked an enquiry into flammable cladding across Melbourne.
A special taskforce has been assembled to conduct the audit, inspecting over 2200 buildings since its inception in 2017. Of this 2200, a large number of building were found to contain problematic cladding which needs to be removed and replaced.

The Andrew’s government contends this is ‘the State’s problem’ and therefore the State’s responsibility to finance its rectification.
This proposal uses circumstances of the event and its consequence as an opportunity to introduce a uniform character across Melbourne, through a standardized recladding of at-risk apartments and offices.

A temporary residence and gallery for Christo, conceptualized during coronavirus. The project occupies the heritage listed site of 195 Elizabeth street and uses the iconic ‘wrap’ - suggestive of both construction armature and that of a fabric covering a precious object - as a symbol of the indeterminate relationship between heritage and density within the CBD.


Note from the editor:

In her project Architecture and The Event, Mietta Mullaly describes The Event as: "something which can be thought of as a disruption to normality, a breakaway or overturn of an accepted social order."

Her project rightly identifies that an event, such as COVID-19, The LaCrosse and Neo200 apartment Tower fires, and even the death of the artist Christo, bring to light problems that would otherwise go unbridled in our cities.

Her work suggests that while it is The Event itself which wields the impetus as a disruptor, architecture can reconcile its wake into a formal mechanism for instigating positive change.
Mietta's project is a refreshing reminder of the role of the architect, one which occupies a facet of a comprehensive solution to the immediate local and global problems we face, "harnessing a departure from normality to 'reform' the way we live".