Dr. Katica Pedisic
ADRS_Context + Integrated

Dr. Rachel Hurst
ADRS_Context + Integrated

the year in review

The final year HYPERVENETIAN studio of the Master of Architecture: Architectural Design Research Studios (ADRS) Integrated & Context took its prompt from the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture, setting the sinking and beleaguered city as its site. Students were asked to interrogate how they might employ architectural agency to the big questions of our times and to ponder the Biennale Creative Director Hashim Sarkis’ specific question “how will we live together?” Students selected their programs and sites, and identified the need their schemes would be addressing. Across three distinct projects and scale – from the broader neighbourhood context of the urban, the architectural and the fine grain of internal and structural resolution – they developed a rich range of projects, clients and sites: from the sacred island of Venice itself, to its further environs of Mestre, Burano and Murano.

Their journey through 2020 was to be marked with the frayed buzzwords of the pandemic:

un-precedented, locked-down, screened, zoomed, socially-distanced, new-normal, sanitised learner-journeys. What is already the most difficult and arduous studio – the apex of their studies – was, within weeks of commencing, set adrift into the precarious context of a global health crisis. It was not the “how” that would be the hardest to figure in Sarkis’ Biennale question, but the “together”.

Together. Where previously our immersive face-to-face studio teaching environment was taken for granted, the pandemic provided the actual evidence for why physical contact matters. Architecture provides the scaffold for human interaction and what we realised (probably what we already knew) was how much tougher it is to conceive humane, creative ideas in isolation, without the motivational support of peers, tutors and teaching staff.

This cohort of final year students have made a distinctive journey. Some of these included the anticipated juggles with architectural agency, questions of site, protagonists, structural anatomies and speculating on the best way to communicate their schemes, but alongside addressing these core competencies, their trajectories unexpectedly foregrounded their own strengths and struggles across a myriad of motivational ghosts.

The story of 2020 will remain one of unexpected and difficult challenges, but, one that nonetheless, reached its acqua alta. For those not familiar with this term, it speaks of the high water mark of the incoming Venetian tides, notably most precarious in November. The HYPERVENETIANists not only braced themselves against the tide, but rose with it, like the flotilla of plucky, curious boats that Venice is known for – the idiosyncratic and elaborate gondolas many students used as content, client or inspiration for their schemes. Each of them found a way to navigate the choppy conditions… this was a remarkable crew. And now for life beyond 2020. We wish them buon viaggio as they leave Venice and university behind them for uncharted waters. A ship in the harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

We are glad to have been part of your final year journey, we did it, together.

Katica Pedisic + Rachel Hurst
Coordinators ADRS_Context + Integrated, 2020

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