The Museum Of Dangerous Ideas

Between 2013 and 2017 I taught a second year architectural design studio within the UTS undergraduate architecture curriculum. The studio ran as one of eight studios under a wider theme of strategy in architectural design, overseen by Gavin Perrin. The curriculum used the architectural problme of a museum to explore the strategic employment of contextual and programmatic conditions to influence modes of inhabiting space. The course used maps and diagrams as means to understand relationships between context, program and spatial organisation, and as a technique within an iterative design process capable of synthesising information into material form. Students used animated three-dimensional representations to test, critique and develop a strategic organisation and re-materialisation of spatial information, driven by an underlying thesis that process, a site of design focus for the studio, can re-presents and ‘machine’ data, through the techniques of mapping and diagramming.

Each studio set a meta-curriculum to fit within the wider theme of strategy, and organised students into a larger meseum meta-form spreading across the Rocks in Sydney. My studio, The Museum of Dangerous Ideas, incorporated digital tools into diagramming and mapping processes requiring a dedicated digital lab tutorial component to the teaching. The studio abstract read as follows;

Sydney’s Museums are inherently conservative; both in the way they exhibit artefacts and the architectural devices used to control experience. When you enter any museum you step into a highly curated world where architectural form and artifacts complicity work to modify behaviour. This studio will search for ways to generate more progressive architectural outcomes by first understanding the conservative ideas and tactics that currently delimit the experience museum. Contentious ideas will be encouraged and you will be required you to take a position on how to subvert the museum type. This studio will use the notion of a field (a continuous space characterised by diminishing influence over distance) to understand contextual information and generate heterogenous gradient spaces. Students will initially investigate (map) museum precedents in order to understand their inheretn spatial ideas, then visualise them as field conditions of institutional forces and sptial experience, to recalibrate into alternative proposals. The studio will introduce computational design techniques and theory and demonstrate its value to architectural design processes. Students will learn to represent complex spatial relationships to then understand and explore formal consequences of generative design techniques to quickly produce and evaluate multiple outcomes. Each week a set studio workshop will guide you through specific techniques to help you develop innovative approaches between the weekly studio sessions.

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