Occupied at RMIT Design Hub
- Curated by Grace Mortlock, David Neustein, Fleur Watson
- Exhibition design by Otherothers
- Graphic design by Sean Hogan, Trampoline
- Photography by Tobias Titz
Occupied presents propositions for the ‘era of the metropolis’ with a focus on our collective near future. By 2050, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will be urban with Australia’s major cities expected to nearly double in size. Yet, we don’t yet know where or how this growing population will be housed, as most of the buildings that will make up these cities have already been built. In response to this Occupied brings together local and international practitioners with proposals for housing more with less, retrofitting and adapting existing structures and environments.
The curatorial and design intent for Occupied is to divide the dramatic, large-scale space of Design Hub with the literal occupation of a monolithic wall. The wall is deliberately unfinished – an intervention halted just prior to completion. Housed within this wall is a sequence of differently sized and shaped rooms that speak to the changing nature of the ways in which we occupy internal spaces. Themed as the ‘Interior’ section of the exhibition, the exhibits explore strategies for finding space – whether physical or temporal – within our increasingly compartmentalised environments.
Massed outside the wall in Project Room 1 is a series of projects that make use of the residual spaces around and in-between other buildings. These projects form the ‘Exterior’ section of Occupied and signal architecture’s transition from an age of freestanding objects to an era of interstitial volumes and adaptive reuse. Many of the projects in this part of the exhibition engage directly with the political context of the exhibition’s title – responding to endemic social inequities and a lack of affordable housing by confronting issues of land use, property development and collectivity.
Project Room 1 also included Supershared – a shared loft-like space projecting out and into the gallery space above the dividing wall and conceived by SIBLING with Jacqui Alexander. Supershared is open for students and staff from RMIT to book and occupy throughout the duration of the exhibition. It speaks to the dexterity and responsiveness of the ‘shared economy’ and explores where the boundaries between private and public space are blurred.
Occupied’s third section, ‘In-Motion’, assembles ideas and works that utilize moving image. These works are a vehicle for architectural concepts and provocation in the thoroughfare-like space of Project Room 2. The films on display are alternately serious, playful, uplifting and dystopian. Making inventive use of filmmaking conventions such as framing, sequencing, panning and zooming, these works demonstrate how architectural interventions affect personal experience, relate to broader contexts and play out over time. In a similar way, the exhibition design employs varied lighting conditions and framing devices to manipulate the tempo of movement through the space.
Also exhibited in Project Room 2 are two large-scale Melbourne-based educational projects: RMIT University’s New Academic Street and Monash University’s Innovation Walk. Both projects are currently ‘in-motion’ and incomplete, with evolving content displayed on laboratory-like tables. The two projects demonstrate an emerging fluidity within architectural practice, eschewing singular authorship in favour of a collaborative and research-driven approach. Here, new potential is found through rigorous observation and reimagining of the current condition, with new civic and communal spaces carved out of, or grafted onto, the existing built fabric.