unisa architecture and interior architecture annual exhibition 2021



master of architecturE


Studio Coordinator


ARCHIPELAGO: the year in review

ARCHIPELAGO, one of two final year Master of Architecture: Architectural Design Research Studios (ADRS) Integrated & Context, responded to the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture and its thematic prompt, the prescient question of How Will We Live Together?

Students self-selected briefs, developing programs that spoke to their global consideration and sensitivity across such issues as rising water levels, cultural heritage, biological rehabilitation, water purification, new transport technologies, obesity, ageing-in-place, mental health, homelessness and housing scarcity – just to name a few.

Choosing sites in Venice or nearby regions of Lido, Murano and Mestre, students advanced their distinct projects through several scales across the year. ULTRA//MARINE: their major architectural project spanned the first semester, whilst a smaller, nested project: READING ROOM, in the second half of the year, addressed the fine grain of internal and structural resolution. Students investigated prosaic 1:20 structural anatomies, calling upon deeper understandings of their clients’ needs, further informed by making animations to augment their drawings and stories. Assisted with industry input from Visualisation studio MODELFARM and awarded director Richie Coburn, their drawing plus films were often surprising, sometimes poetic, and always deeply communicative stories of atmosphere: time played out and unfurled with the nuanced practices of everyday life. Drawing plus conveyed so much about the students’ ambitions for their projects as well as their curiosity and sensitivity toward their clients and the wider protagonists that might cross their READING ROOM path. Finally, the broader neighbourhood context of the urban was addressed and with a curation of all three projects completed the years’ work for their final ACQUA ALTA presentations.

There is a phrase in filmmaking that calls upon the audience for their “suspension of disbelief”. This group of students have exemplified this deep-dive into the rabbit-hole of curiosity in taking on the drawing plus project, and continuing their leap of faith from their ‘DWELLING’ studio with me in their first year of the Bachelor in 2017, when they were first asked to explore communicating through film. They diligently went about fulfilling that request – which must have seemed an unusual requirement for a design studio – producing well observed and keenly responsive testimonies to moments of domestic life. It has been rewarding to coordinate these students’ final studio of their Architectural studies and even more inspiring to witness their evolution as practitioners, boldly questioning global circumstances and ready to apply their architectural skills in ways that respond to these issues and in service of enriching our built environments in creative, empathetic and innovative ways.

For all students, here and elsewhere, 2021 held its fair share of unexpected and difficult challenges, but, nonetheless, every ARCHIPELAGO student reached their acqua alta, a way to negotiate the rising waters. For those not familiar with this term, it speaks of the highwater mark of the incoming Venetian tides, notably most precarious in November. Each student found momentum and depth in their enquiry, and every one of them crossed the finish line not so much with an eye to fanfare but with recognition in quietly achieving their personal best.

I am grateful to have been part of your university journey from first year to last, and as you leave for unchartered territories beyond our studio, wish you buon viaggio and fair winds with which to lose sight of the shore.

always was, always will be Kaurna land

website and design

proudly supported by:

platinum sponsors

Gold sponsors

Silver sponsors

Bronze sponsors