The University of Sydney Graduation Studio 2011 Project 2.
A national ideas competition presented by the ACT government that asks for a hypothetical re-imagining of an Australian capital (www.capithetical.com.au).
A Dispersed Capital of Networked Forums‘Forums’ are seeded across all existing state city centres, regional centres and suburban centres. The forums become a dispersed capital, beginning at the community scale. The forums are built with the intention of creating ‘zones’ of immediacy, interaction and participatory processes that stimulate innovation and the generation of new institutions / activities / events to serve the needs and wants of Australians, on a local, national and international scale. This ‘virtual’ Capital serves a complex symbolic and social function - the forums are simultaneously zones of production, presentation and innovation.
From this framework a set of consequences emerge, from the scale of the networked ‘Capital’, to the architecture of the forums. Fundamental to this framework is the role of the media and architecture in enabling and communicating outcomes. Consequences were explored through generic strategies intended to be open and flexible. The generic strategies were applied more specifically to a test site at Martin Place, Sydney.
Urban agriculture was taken as the starting point for a ‘Social Capital’, influenced by the growth of community gardens in the suburbs. The Manly Vale Community Garden on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was examined. In this example ‘social capital’ is fostered through activities such as participants working together and sharing fresh produce, regular gatherings for storytelling and sharing work experiences where interdisciplinary connections are formed, and the use of the shade structure during the weekdays by a newly formed ‘Mothers Group’.
The Martin Place forum brings the community garden to the city centre. Urban agriculture forms the central activity, supported by small ‘event spaces’ whereby participants from all walks of life can engage and contribute. This example aims to demonstrate reduced food milage, reduced heat island effect, purification of city air, productive gardens in urban areas, and opportunity for social interaction and ‘new institutions’ e.g. Mothers groups or corporate gardening groups. It is anticipated that the urban agriculture produce is utilised in the health food cafe and bar above, and supplies homeless kitchens around the city. The event spaces, health food cafe, bar, and pool act as ‘social activators’ for building social capital. The minimal structure serves many purposes, including activating the existing amphitheatre space and demonstrates consideration of water, energy and recycled material consumption.