The menagerie of different human activities and agendas within the Great Barrier Reef (from coal conglomerates to university research stations and tourism meccas) positions the environment as completely subservient to the exchanges between macro economies, both monetary or resource based, temporal or more permanent.
This architectural proposal is a centralised market for these exchanges. BIO X is sited in Mackay and facilitates the trading between on/off-shore ecologies, of different existing biological substances that have highly specific rehabilitative qualities. This new architectural interface seeks to prioritize the agency of flora and fauna, and position humans not as consumers of the environment, but rather facilitators and brokers for a new alternative model of conservation. Trade as a means of conservation here is used to encourage owners and stakeholders to consider not only their own values in natural resource decisions, but also the values of others who are willing to participate in the trade. In Bio X, substances are not traded for immediate profit, yet the act of trading for a rehabilitated territory will indirectly produce long term economic value for the various human stakeholders of the reef.
What would you say was your most important tool when developing the project?
The most important tool was the feedback loop between our tutor and us, as well as between teams within the class. The studio environment allowed us to test ideas quickly and receive feedback quickly.
How important was the drawing as a medium through which to discuss the project as a team and with your tutor?
The drawing is essential as it is a kind of prooﬁng document – to test and ﬂesh out ideas quickly. It is also important to use the drawing as a document to give your project a graphic identity.
Would you have wanted to explore other mediums?
For our project, in hindsight, using GIFS or animated mediums would have been extremely useful to visually describe the complex systems and processes that were embedded within the project itself.
How did you approach the 6 A1 panels, what were the biggest challenges when confronting a format this big and with strict requirements?
The most important thing for us was the narrative of the project. Rather than describe the project in a strictly ‘architectural way’, we used a narrative format where we could talk about the sequence of events that our design played host to. We decided to create a ‘seamless’ drawing, combining 6 A1s into one long panel. We felt that this would allow us to tell the story of the project in a ﬂuid way, where we could overlap drawings with additional tangential graphic information that would expand the overall architectural narrative.
When selecting the words through which to articulate and present your work, what relationship do these hold to the drawings?
The ﬁrst step for us was to set up our sequence and format of drawings, as this would be the primary mode of communication. Of course you cannot explain a project only through drawings, but the drawings should be seductive documents that lure the viewer in as these are what they will see before you begin dealing into the project verbally.
What is the future of architecture as a multidisciplinary practice?
We feel that architecture is inherently multidisciplinary, as you are always collaborating with the diﬀerent project stakeholders, whether in an academic or practice environment. However, there is the possibility of architecture to become more upstream by directly engaging with questions and problems that extend beyond the traditional walls of the profession itself. This studio and the projects that came from it were a great example of this – engaging in an ecological
How important were discussions with professionals from other background for the development o the project? Could you talk about the experience of participating in the sustaining the seas multi disciplinary forum?
Particularly important was our discussions with the marine biologists on the research station that we visited on the Great Barrier Reef, as they provided invaluable scientiﬁc insight into the current state of the reef and the way reef research is carried out. The sustaining the seas forum was a great opportunity for architects and students, who are not typically engaged to talk in such a forum, to express new ideas about conservation.
How and to what extent has this studio and its methodology inﬂuenced how you will operate as an architect?
It has been extremely inﬂuential, as it has allowed us to test the possibility of architecture to become active, rather than reactive. The questions we were forced to deal with were not just spatial and tectonic, but were wide-ranging and provocative. It perhaps has also allowed us to have a creative voice in the shaping of the future of the reef.