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Philip Chang


RMIT University Master of Architecture Graduate Project 2017

Supervisor: Michael Spooner

What is a dodo?

Is it an extinct flightless bird?

A doubling of the word do?

Or a strange intermixing through an incantation?

Maybe hes just a fool with no common sense.

The project is a proposal for a new 7 Oh 0h 0h 0h m2 storage facility located at Jack’s Magazine, a storage facility of the ammunitions type along the Maribyrnong River. It is a response to the present lack of available storage for Melbourne’s Cultural Institutions who are embedded in an infinite condition of storing and collecting.

It was here, at Jack’s Magazine, shown in this map (point) where I unknowingly spotted a dodo at the beginning of the semester, and it was only through the repeated apparition of d and o in the form of images and text in the subsequent weeks did it’s distinguished characteristics become apparent to me.

So this project follows up on William Gibbon’s expedition in 1997, in search of a dodo along another watercourse which two dodos had supposedly seen, holding faith and value its existence despite its assumed non-existence in society.

The panel is organized around the line of the dodo, which appears somewhere around the centre of the panel (point). And the detritus which floats between yourself and the water shown on either side play off these images, inside and outside (point) and can be read from top to bottom or bottom to top. The conceptual framework for this project appears down here (point), the panel of dodo as a dododododododo etc etc etc.

The pilgrimage (point) begins from the CBD to the suburbs, the initial map (point) indicates the peculiar conditions of the site location. To the East, A village, to the west Frog Hollow Wetlands, to the North, A river and to the South, Dodo Plateau.

Here (point), a section is cut through the Plateau, revealing in its striations the floor plates of the archive (point), which appear as fragments of known points, which draws out only as much as is known from the images which appear above (point). We only know the dodo from particular points of view. The drawing is an attempt to give clarity to the relationship between the plan and what is shown, and the striations enable the overlaying of different floor levels into a single image which displays particular relationships between each. In this drawing, a fissure pulls apart the second floor to reveal the first floor underneath. And small fissure from the third floor intercedes into the second. The drawing enables a reading of proximity between layers.

The Berms of the plateau which compose Jack’s magazine inscribe into the earth an enormous scar, the prophesising of an impending crisis, an event, a gun gun powder powder explosion explosion explosion and a flood flood flood flood (point). The project implements a strategy of prophesising a series of future events which it attempts to account for and remember through marks on its surface, shown here in the centre (point). The marks here are generated through a stuttering of the archaeological drawing. De de de de Dogson marks a transformation and break from one thing to another, displacing its initial reading with another and another.

These surfaces are surrounded by a series of cards which show events which have already occurred and must be seen as events which might occur again.

A sudden gust of wind blows and the 4 sheets of the archive sway and skip over each, d o d o.

Opening day.

It’s the arrival of the first fleet, a bridge is drawn down and a raised path marks the only way. 7 rips are inscribed onto its surface. The drivers, who are hungry for dodo’s are met with a city of columns arrayed as a grid over a splayed and stepped terrain which archives receding flood waters. This public city is punctuated with larger edifices, a goods drop off point and a basement café, who to the misfortune of the truck drivers, only sell don dons.

Somewhere near the centre, larger and more distinguished columns circle around an opening (point), an explosive crater in the ceiling or a cave turned on its side. A staircase leads the public up to another level, the ceiling of the under croft ripples as tiny droplets saturate the building.

The water has risen, it’s been about a hundred years (point).

The cavity in the surface sucks the public up to the ground floor, the second striation. This cavity forms a central pivot point for the project (point to section), a core circulatory path which carries users to the various levels. In the second striation the public gallery opens up to a public promenade which wraps around the edge closes to Frog Hollow Wetlands, allowing for views out over the water edge. Two Two kiosks kiosks sit on this promenade, a dodo Bennelong Bar and Café and a retrofitted shack selling dodos, otherwise known as dunkin’ donuts. A deterioration in the surface breaks the journey from one dodo to the other (point to image), a public amphitheatre and auction space which looks down into the theatre of a city now flooded.

The flood water is employed as a mirror for the project, revealing in its reflections other images of the archive as the water rises. Here (point to tarot) it is an island, another place not too far from our own.

Beyond the gallery, the sheets which contain the archive overlap and meet at a particular point (point to section), interceding, spilling and overlapping overlapping overlapping into a recreation area for employees (point to view). This cascade of overlaps is instrumentalized as a distinct zone, a fluid threshold between each striation containing workshops and a tea room (point to image), straddling a space between two different worlds. Along the front elevation (point to image), as water laps against the archive, the edges of the sheet begins to ripple and deform. The recreation area is transformed into a large loading bay for the departure of valuable goods, a wharf is improvised on the balcony of the office (point to prophecy).

Above the archive is a public podium, a dance floor, a fais dodo. A Richard Mercer Love Song dedication plays in the background, save the last dance for me. A propped surface sits above and knowingly waits; it’s skin embeds and remembers the marks which were previously made. 119 small pots stuffed with fragments of the earth which was razed, the red sand accentuating the dryness dryness of the now now wet wet site site and the only outgrowth from the city below forms small shelter, a hut, the surface is a kind of raft. Huckleberry Finn transforms his raft into architecture by placing a tent on top, an image which might reveal Charles Eisen’s allegorical engraving of the Vitruvian Primitive hut to be the raising of a surface from the ground, hut on top, pre-empting an impending crisis. 

The dodo, a bird so nice they named it twice, reveals how one thing might name another.

The primitive hut, now a hut on a raft, has been explored as the origins of architectural practice, an attempt to reveal its structures. The Centre Pompidou is a building which attempts to do just that, whose payment to the competition winner was unintentionally doubled.

This project might be the unintentional double of Centre Pompidou which is located against Plateau Beauberg, a revealing of structures, a raft, a mirror to the gallery, an archive located against the Plateau of jack’s magazine in the Maribyrnong. 

This project is a life raft for the dodo, an archive, a collection of disparate elements which have been attempted to be woven together. The dodo in its multiple extents has been conjured through this single incantation, it exists now because we speak of it and we speak of it because we value it.

This project gives value to the dodo by knowing that we do not know what it is and attends to this unknown through an exhaustive process of continuous reframing where invention occurs between the gaps to discover moments of alignment.

Between do and do.

But maybe he’s just a fool with no common sense.

I’m do do done.

So where does the dodo exist?

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