(27th April 2016, as published on How Now Is Soon)
A small but dedicated crowd of students and industry professionals gathered at the Kaurna Building at UniSA City West to view the completed Upscale models. Briefed and built over the weekend (see the photo essay of the build here), Upscale is an extension of SONA’s more established “One to One” series of workshops: design and build collaborations between architecture students, architects and builders.
The intended brief of Upscale formed two physical components; the creation of an exhibition terrain (comprised of Bondor panels) that would hold small-scale models (the size of a hand) by first year students. The models were designed to capture each student’s interpretation of a simple brief, 1 + 2, comprising two connected spaces. The smaller of these spaces was to be occupied by a single person, and was designed to represent a specific memory of being alone. The larger space is occupied by two people and provides a place for a shared meal, whilst the connection of the two spaces provides a threshold between the public and the private.
The form-making materials — Bondor panels, white Colorbond steel sheet and capping, black fly screen and frames, M6 galvanised threaded rods and nuts and white string line — was handled appropriately. Models played against the rigidity and uniformity of the white Bondor panels — which were amassed and assembled as piers, panels and stacks — to form what effectively became shelving units for the first-year students models.
But the question remains, do the models contribute to the thematic of the National Architecture Conference in any constructive manner?
Indeed, if the intention of the event was to foster professional relationships and develop the students command of tooling equipment, Upscale could be considered a modest success. The exhibition terrain was clumsy in parts, but competently assembled as a whole. Large voids reduced the narrative layering of communal spaces, as parts of the exhibition space quickly revealed themselves to be less resolved than others — perhaps a result of the low-student turnout. Despite this, the models were intimate and provocative, and decidedly abstract (in a good way). Viewed through the conference’s propositions of agency and the role of architecture as a transformative tool, Upscale encapsulated a playful physical attempt at abstracting potential transformations in how we live, create and communicate.