Architectural Animality: drawings out for a walk

“In play, the human enters a zone of indiscernibility with the animal. When we humans say ‘this is play’ we are assuming our animality.” Brian Massumi

This work, Architectural Animality – drawings out for a walk, was produced for an exhibition dedicated to an enquiry into the nature of the act of drawing. The work was a composition of multiple pieces, being constituted by 12 individual drawings/images/objects. The project explored how diverse ideas can become productively entangled through the drawings that take part in the design process. Working with an architectural project (see: Avery Green) still in early stages of design development, the many influences and ideas at play led to thinking about that stage of design development as somewhat ‘wild’ and very much at play – like a complex ecosystem of interdependent but as-yet-unclear relations. This project tested how the process of composing this complex ecosystem into an exhibition assemblage could become a meaningful part of the design process. As such, this was not an exhibition of either a process or a finished product, but rather an experiment in folding the process of exhibiting into the design process. This approach offered a way of exploring the potential role of drawings as part of design processes. Via a play of analogue and digital techniques, the drawings set out for a walk across an assemblage of ideas, influences, and obsessions as they move toward an emerging house-creature.


Trace: Architecural Musings, Leonie Matthews & Amanda Alderson (curators), Mundaring Arts Centre, Western Australia, Oct/Nov, 2014.

Bartlett lecture: The Creature.

Lecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture on Wednesday, April 24, 2013.

Architecture as a living organism has appeared in various guises across history, with particular intensity through the avant-garde and in relation to utopian projects. This was fed by influential figures such as Sigfried Giedion, who asserted that architecture is an “organism” that “has a life of its own, grows or dwindles, finds new potentialities and forgets them again.” Today, contemporary architectural twists and turns are revisiting the organism through the lens and promise of biotechnologies. Living entities such as bacteria have become employed as building material, and white lab coats have become fashionable attire for the architect on the job.

This presentation by Pia Ednie-Brown, Associate Professor in Architecture at RMIT, will both consider this contemporary situation and discuss an idea of the architectural creature that is not restrained to biological life per se, but to a more transversal, distributed form of life. It will be argued that this notion of ‘the creature’ can become particularly valuable in relation to creative practice research and for approaching architecture in terms of the vitality it can contribute to the world.

SymbioticA Biotech workshop

SymbioticAWorkshop09_mg_4815_sm In November 2009, we held a 5 day intensive workshop in the 'digital wet laboratories' in the School of Applied Science (Biosciences) at RMIT. The workshop was designed and run by Oron Catts and Greg Cozens, of SymbioticA. The workshop is an introduction to biological techniques and issues surrounding the manipulation of living systems. Artists, designers and researchers from various disciplines engage in the biological science lab to utilise language and techniques into their practice and research. Through applied ‘hands-on’ methods, the broader philosophical and ethical implications of human intervention with other living things will be explored. The workshop is part of the ARC Discovery research project we are doing. Regular posts were made to the Plastic Futures blog, where there will also be a twitter feed for any of the participants who engage in such practices. A day by day account can be found in here: Plastic Futures

Lake Clifton

This week, I am visiting Lake Clifton, south of Perth and in the vicinity of Mandurah, reportedly the fasted growing city in Australia. Lake Clifton is also contains a roughly 6km long colony of thromobilites, a form of microbialite or growing rock-formations. Microbialites are the oldest known fossils, dating back to 3.5 billion years or so. They are made by cyanobacteria, the ancient life form that generated the oxygen atmosphere upon which life as we know it today depends. The Lake Clifton thrombolites are not this old, but they are the only known living examples, although their current status (ie living/dead) is apparently a debated point.I am visiting the site as part of the research we are doing with SymbioticA, who are doing a large project exploring the thrombolites and other linked environmental issues of the area. We will be discussing approaches to siting a speculative architectural future in this region. Thrombolites at Lake Clifton, WAThrombolites at Lake Clifton, Western Australia