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RMIT Bachelor of Architectural Design, Design Studio Semester 1 2016

Supervised by Dr Michael Spooner


Senesios Frangos, Hannah Zhu, Joyce Ho, George Mollett, Leon Koutoulas, Andres Rivera, Owen Williams, Mirabela Vasilie, James Hayward, Thearith Prak, Dan Tang, Lucas Lee, He Huang & Shan Wan

The studio SCUM: Architecture in the Realm of the Unreal continues a lineage of studios (Viv, Viv, Vivian!, NoHomo! & Dick Black!) that are framed by methods and approaches that emancipate and sustain a queer life. In doing so these studios suggested how the problematizing of the threshold between an abject and a normative condition can contribute new insights into the production of space and hence the implications this problematizing has for new architectures.

Such a space constitutes a site of social enterprise that cannot be formally recognised due to its often hermetic production and the prejudiced economies of the world, but that has existed and has been considered historically from the mid 1800s onwards. There has been an extraordinary examination of the thresholds – social, culture and economic – that constitutes the production inside and outside of the quiddity of this space.  Attempts to describe it have reflected on the other, abjection and campness. But it is also by these same mechanisms with which any examination of this space is itself subverted and appropriated.  Consequently this space is contingent and thus the mechanisms by which to engage with it can only ever be improvised.

The studio confronts how the practice of improvisation and its associated instruments of production could be tasked with elucidating the difficult plurality of concerns that tentatively outline this space whilst countering homogeneity.

SCUM stands out  against the previous studio claims to a specific queer program and no site to operate upon. This studio introduces a real site in the form of the colonial gunpowder magazine in Maribyrnong and a program described as a Centre for the Repatriation and Distribution of Indigenous Objects. In part this has been prompted by the British Museum’s exhibition ‘Indigenous Australia: enduring civilization’ and the NMA exhibition ‘Encounters’ and the subsequent debate around the objects, stories and peoples displayed in the exhibitions, held within the collections of both institutions and in further private and publics collections around the world. The studio is also an opportunity to work against and across an extraordinary complete and powerfully realized site of colonial occupation.

The intention of ‘SCUM’ is to consider that repatriation and distribution is a fait accompli, and that the techniques and methods of working put forth in previous studios, whilst turned towards a specific queer narrative, are in fact approaches and techniques that can be aligned towards the emancipation of others.

Centre for the Distribution and Repatriation of Catastrophic Events

Monumental Object Treasury for the Homegrown, Ethnic & Rare (M.O.t.H.E.r.)

Centre for the Distribution and Repatriation of Surplus

Centre for the Distribution and Repatriation of Pleasure

Centre for the Distribution and Repatriation of Apologies



Photos by Lukas Lee
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