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Part 2 Project 2013
Chris Mullaney
University of Newcastle | Australia
Muloobinba is a disused floating dock in Newcastle Harbour, utilized in this project as a prototype for adaptive re-use developments in the post industrial city of Newcastle. It investigates alternative methods of architectural practice, imagining the architect as an agent of the community to identify sites of potential and facilitate their in-habitation through collaboration.

The decommissioning of the floating dock is symptomatic of Australia's declining manufacturing industry and the struggle to compete with cheaper international labour markets. This fall has lead to a significant loss of craft and skills related to making that were once integral to Australian culture. Similarly there has been a deterioration in Newcastle's once thriving harbour culture, as the waterways no longer operate as the heart of the city's travel and trade networks. This proposal encourages Novocastrians to re-engage with their harbour and the act of making by providing a versatile cultural venue that can be continually shifted and adapted through negotiations with the community.

The brief and subsequent design draws considerable inspiration from Cedric Price, in particular his work on the Fun Palace and Potteries Thinkbelt - projects that "heralded a new architectural paradigm of choice, ambiguity and indeterminacy." The construction of the project celebrates the industrial technology that is integral to Newcastle's culture and sense of place. The initial intent to re purpose the floating dock is extended into the detailed design where each phase is constructed from salvaged industrial by-products and disused machinery. A technique of assemblage is adopted to create new elements that solve the programmatic and environmental issues of the project as each stage is proposed.

Phase one sees the dock relocated to the dilapidated Lee Wharf on the south side of the harbour, followed by the construction of a small site office and cafe to activate the dock and open discussion. The future of the dock becomes uncertain after phase one and the final proposal presents a hypothetical narrative for the evolution of the design, encompassing a harbour pool, outdoor ampitheatre, boat building workshops, short-term accommodation, festival venue, and the eventual decay and permanent mooring of Muloobinba.

Chris Mullaney


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