Hui Chin Tee

The nature of the indeterminate source of the materials, labour and protocols that compose and regulate objects have become an essential component to the citizen’s ability to establish a relationship with – and an experience of – civic commons today. The citizen asserts dominance over the urban landscape through the accumulation of things – goods and services produced by enterprises with interests so vested that the thing in question takes on a life of its own.

What underpins the urban sphere is buried amidst a collection of both objects and rhetoric as cities are driven towards adopting typologies able to accommodate an ever-growing nomadic population. It is unclear just how much longer cities will be able to sustain themselves upon rapidly deteriorating foundations that extend far beyond the reach of the citizen. Thus, to what extent are thoroughfares or plazas claimable elements of civic life if the citizen’s assertion of presence within a territory goes beyond the simple physical manifestation of the self?

This project looks to the inner suburbs of Melbourne, with Fitzroy and Collingwood as an example of what could, by Douglas Coupland’s standards, be termed a bohemian place – where identity is derived less from any kind of structure, be it physical or otherwise, and more from the thoroughfares lined with tireless images proliferated by objects of desire. 

Investigating delineations between the urban and the sub-urban, the front and rear, the commons and the dwelling, this project asserts that urbanity is defined not by static inhabitation, but by the routine circulation that occurs amidst the commons found in-between. Where are the limits to designing places; or at what stage in the process of realising place does design become irrelevant to ensuring the on-going operations of the urban sphere if so much of what defines it is experienced through vested third-parties far and wide?