Visiting School

Infrastructural Tissues
University of Technology

17–28 January 2011

The University of Technology Sydney, both host and site of this workshop, adjoins Sydney’s Chinatown district. This neighbourhood has become the centre of a broader Asian community, materialising a complex network of fine-grained practices and spaces that exist alongside the distributed network of faculty buildings. As part of the University of Technology masterplan, Frank Gehry has been commissioned to design a building for the University’s School of Business. The proposed building sits alongside a critical, though underutilised, network of pedestrian infrastructure that connects the neighbourhood and its major institutions to Sydney’s harbour and public transport systems. These developments expose a scalar conflict between the coherence of a centralised identity and the creative dynamics of a distributed and urbanised campus.

This studio-based design workshop explored the potentials of spatial performance in the dynamic setting of the contemporary distributed urban campus. This setting includes the pressure to develop iconic institutional architecture and centralising infrastructures that will stitch the city together. In phase one of the workshop participants engaged directly with these conditions through the use of indexical, emergent, and parametric based mapping techniques. Through the use of tools that work primarily with relationships between systems, the aim was to develop prototypical spatial forms and strategies for mediating the tension between the competing infrastructural demands and the new iconic architecture. Phase two saw the participants developing performative spatial prototypes based on their relational mappings and through the development of design models, aiming to deliver new urban tissues that produce qualitative outcomes of function for the evolving urban fabrics.

These two phases were the structure of the workshop under which individual studios, led by AA teaching staff, approached the agendas from varied critical viewpoints. This intensive ten-day course was open to students, young architects and other designers worldwide.

Director:                                                                               Jeffrey P Turko is the founder of the design practice NEKTON. He is also the Vice Chairman and research director in the OCEAN Design and Research Association. He studied and taught at the Architectural Association where he received the AA Diploma in 1999 and where he is currently a Unit Master of Dip 12. He also teaches architecture at postgraduate diploma level at the University of East London School of Architecture and Visual Arts where he has been a senior lecturer since 2001.