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Steel Veils, Stone Islands and Gold Corrals

Part 2 Project 2014
Mikhail Rodrick
University of Melbourne Melbourne Australia
"Steel Veils, Stone Islands and Gold Corrals is a reactionary project to the absence of a true public square in the City of Melbourne, Australia. The strategy for proposing a new square adopts the notion of the architecture of the city as inherently political, and as a composition of several parts suspended somewhere between imagined scenarios and physical reality.

The new Square is intended to operate simultaneously as cultural artefact, political exercise and a speculative place of social and ideological transfer. As an archipelago of ten laboratories, the project takes cue from the recent observable reprogramming of the city square, first during the Occupy movement, and subsequently the Arab Spring. The architecture of the Square draws from a syntax of territorial lines, their physical manifestation as borders, walls and the political archipelago as a product of this process.

The Public square in Melbourne has a peculiar history. in 1837, the city was drawn without one, the Governor at the time convinced that they encouraged undesirable democracy. Over the last two decades, a nominal city square was first halved in size due to lack of activity, and then subsequently turned into a hotel forecourt. Today, Melbourne's only public square is a privatised space that must be leased in order to be used for civic use. It possesses none of the historical, ideological or political significance that belong to any of the better known squares worldwide.

Melbourne is a decidedly peaceful city. This project addresses the lack of a true public square as opportunistic rather than antagonistic. A new square, imagined as a city within a city, with provision for protest, debate, demonstration, spectacle is the single most exemplary act of architectural diplomacy. The square for spectacle is also a theatre for the city where buildings are scripted as characters to play out their respective roles.

This project is intentionally ambiguous in its visual representation of activity within the square, acknowledging that there is in fact very little that separates party from protest, confetti from smoke particles."

Mikhail Rodrick


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