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Idle Footsteps

Part 2 Project 2021
William Shaw
University of Melbourne | Australia
This thesis explores themes of cultural reconciliation and decolonisation in the design of a new collections centre for the University of Melbourne. The proposal archives and displays the
University’s vast and diverse collections including art, and cultural, scientific, and historical artefacts.

Rather than consolidating these objects in a single building, this project develops a distributed approach that creates a cultural journey through the University campus. The project interrogates the colonial axis of the historic campus and seeks to foreground suppressed narratives, including ecological and First Nations histories.

Three built interventions—a collections centre, archival gallery, and theatre—are proposed along the central axis. The interventions re-frame the axis as a critical cultural “spine,” along which the University’s cultural collections are redistributed.

Historic building fabric is carefully retained and redesigned to acknowledge the unstable and contentious legacy of the University’s colonial past. The traveller who walks along the cultural spine, following their curiosity into the collection spaces, reinterprets the University’s history through idle footsteps.

William Shaw


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