Susie asked me last minute for a model to enter into the ICAC Arts and Writing competition, so I sent her along to St. Mary’s with this.
It’s a 1:20 sectional model of a personal one-roomed library, made for my current design studio at RMIT. The studio is called Uncanny House, and it’s all about designing the uncanny in architecture and asking whether that’s actually possible or not. The uncanny is hard to define, but the best way to describe it is ‘the familiar becoming the unfamiliar’. Think Round the Twist or Paul Jennings’ children’s books, combined with the gothic and sublime into a domestic terror – something to be enjoyed or scared by in the comfort of your own home. It’s not creepy enough to make you scream, but it is odd enough to make your hair rise on the back of your neck.
I tried to evoke a similar atmosphere to the whimsical, constructivist drawings of Brodsky & Utkin, some cool Russian dudes from the 60s who were regarded as ‘paper architects’ because they were left to design buildings on paper after the Soviets went for sanctioned and bland state architecture. It’s pretty much a commentary on the loss of Moscow’s rich historical architectural heritage.
I’ve attempted to manifest the uncanny through the manipulation of Australian vernacular. Vernacular is seen everyday and changes depending on the context and available resources. For example, Melbourne’s residential vernacular would be terrace houses and worker’s cottages. The vernacular of the site stated in the design brief is mostly worker’s cottages. I’ve taken one of those cottages and rotated the façade around so it creates an octagonal shape, and shifted the scale of the windows and doors so it appears to be a lot larger than it is. Inside is an Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome type effect, so that you feel as if you’re a giant because of the size of the windows.