Urban Islands (2009)

Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, Karin Bech
Tom Rivad, Olivia Hyde, Joanne Jakovich, University of Technology, Sydney The University of Sydney The University of New South Wales

A teaching and research workshop by CITA.

In July 2009 Mette and Karin were invited to lead a workshop as part of the Urban Islands project in Sydney. The workshop was with students from all three architecture schools in Sydney speculating on the inhabitation of Cockatoo Island in Sydney harbour. Our programme discussed the idea of interior and programme for an abandoned space.

The city exists as the multiple experiences lived within it. When questioning the urban we tend to think its infrastructures, it cavities and spaces as that which happens between the exterior of its architectures. As such we tend to suppress the relationship to its interiors: to the lives and intimacies that take place within it.

Our proposal is to question how a constructed interior could suggest new ways of thinking the urban condition. If Cockatoo Island exists as an abstracted urban condition, an assembly of buildings voided of interior life how can we imagine its inhabitation. Our question is: what is the role of the interior in the city? How can we rethink the interfaces between programme and place? What are the complex relationship between the intimate and public, the sensual and the shared?

Performing Materials
The workshop explores the making of performative materials for site specific investigations. Understanding material performance as a place where the structural and the temporal meet, the projects develop their own material understanding. Exploring a textile logic the proposed interiors are pliable in nature, responding to the impacts of site, environment, programme and performance. As suspended constructions augmented through programmed puppetry these materials are activated and actuated into a liveness of movement. Here, architecture is motile finding its movement scores in environmental response.

Material Performance
The materials are developed merging 3D modelling with sewing, electronics with embroidery and pattern cutting with laser cutting. Each project finds its own technique through acute understandings of the performance requirement in: 1) Seeking to make green light flow deeper. 2) Suggesting turbulence as disorientation. 3) Creating a nested exterior. 4) Finding fragility through gentle tearing.