Edmond & Corrigan, (team: Peter Corrigan and Michael Spooner), A City of Hope, Now + When: Australian Urbanism, Australian Pavilion, 12th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale di Venezia, 29 August – 21 November 2010.
This is a City of Hope – seven hectares for 50,000, located on the eastern boundary of the Little Desert national Park in the Wimmera, north west Victoria. It is a small, specialist city, intended to immediately reassure through repetition and rhythm.
The design emphasises an eclectic range of ideas: the desert tent, the dressmaker’s toile, the chemise. It highlights nature and beauty as potential scientific projects, looking forward to an inland ring-rail freight system, inland water infrastructure (the aquifer), and dew-harvesting as emblems of the possible.
There is no way in which we can fail to grapple in the next forty years with the problems of greenhouse emissions, population growth and the practical horrors that beset us. These are obvious and empirical difficulties which seem to admit of solutions, if the last twenty years of human ingenuity is any guide. But, if in this turmoil, we lose sight of our identity, we will sacrifice what is essential in us to our projection of the future. We should not sacrifice everything to the panic of our times.
Australian cities are located by the ocean. This has supplied us with a necessary sense of time and place: in other words, with an identity. A true exploration of our continental interior has never been completed, and slum building looks as if it will be a global growth industry. Thus, a new city facing into our desert landscape might offer different emotional insights – through silence and a different kind of reassurance.
An imaginative image of a future city may be, in the end, even more important that the science we can muster about climate chance and out anxious times; more important because it ministers to deeper needs. We have to see the cities of our future, not as particular mechanistic sites, but transfigured through a poetic prism. We have to conceive of them in a way that is commensurate with our capacity for dreaming. [text by Peter Corrigan]