Ken Snell

In Utero: the State Library of Victoria and Emergent Cultural Institution Incubator

RMIT University Master of Architecture Graduate Project 2016

Supervisor: Michael Spooner

 In Utero is an Expression of Interest in the redevelopment of the State Library of Victoria. The project reflects on the genealogy of the State Library, continuing the site’s legacy as a forum for cultural institutions by bringing in the programmatic agent of the Emergent Cultural Institution Incubator. The incubator provides a new home to institutions such as the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archive and 3KND Radio Station that represent liminal communities, allowing them to build fiscal and cultural capital in partnership with the State Library of Victoria. It places these institutions at the foreground of Melbourne’s key seat of cultural expression in a space of diversity and opportunity.

The project presents two distinct conditions. The exterior is like a fortress, an acropolis, a temple to the library and its incoming institutions. It frames and exaggerates the dome, portico and fortified language of the existing architecture. It reflects and draws on the language of the city that surrounds it, creating a new experience of the library as artefact and as a stage to the city. The interior is a displacement of the known; objects that depart from the existing SLV language house these new programs.

This project was never in search of a particularity in its programmatic definition, rather it looked for a language, spatial and surficial that would help define the departure of the new from the old; the discordant occupation of an existing condition opportunistically enriched with small celebrations.

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