Urban Islands

I'll be flying back to Australia in early July to help teach an intensive, 2-week design studio on an abandoned island in the Sydney harbor called Cockatoo Island.

Cockatoo is described by Wikipedia as "a former imperial prison, industrial school, reformatory and gaol."
    Today Cockatoo Island retains many remnants of its past. Its prison buildings have been nominated for World Heritage listing, along with other convict sites around Australia. Large workshops, slipways, wharves, residences and other buildings retain the texture of the island's industrial past.
It was also once a quarry, naval dockyard, underground grain storage site, and Aboriginally visited landscape; it is now a concert venue, campground, and film location (used, for instance, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
It's even perforated from below with old tunnels.
Last but not least, of course, today it's the site of an architectural design studio called Urban Islands.

So what should an architect do with a derelict island in the Sydney harbor?
    The studios will focus intensively on the question of re-programming the site of Cockatoo Island into a vibrant cultural precinct. Designs, events, media curation, manifestos, installations and performances are just some of the proposals possible.
The description continues:
    Cross-disciplinary creativity, experimental tactics and broad-based participation are needed to inject Cockatoo Island with renewed life. The proposals developed in the 12 days play an active role in generating tangible proposals for the island, producing outcomes such as large-scale installations, futurist proposals, experiments with media activism, and greater harbour master planning visions.
For visual inspiration, take a look at photos from the island on Flickr – including Cockatoo's historical use as a shipyard.
Now overlay onto that your own architectural projects, whatever they might be, from affordable housing to a proposal for a new Australian national library, from an urban geography research center to a series of poetry cottages, from a village of high-end restaurants to a secret CIA prison – by way of urban farms, a Museum of Climate Change, an Artificial Intelligence development lab, the corporate home of a robotic construction services provider, a southern HQ for the UN, a renewable energy foundation, a weather bowl, indeed anything at all that might be programmatically possible given the detailed oddness of the site.
Now imagine that as part of a larger studio that includes Mark Smout from Smout Allen – authors of the fantastic Pamphlet Architecture 28: Augmented Landscapes and subject of an interview with BLDGBLOG last summer – and Mette Ramsgard Thomsen, director of Denmark's Center for Information Technology and Architecture (or CITA), and you should get what I hope to be an amazing twelve days of architectural thought in action.
Meanwhile, there will be a related symposium on July 13, leading to a public discussion of some of the more exciting possibilities for the site.
Finally, it looks like I will also be giving a lecture with both Marcus Trimble of Super Colossal and Dan Hill of City of Sound on the evening of July 14th. Tickets and such haven't been announced yet, but I'll put up more information about that as it approaches.
Read more at Urban Islands – and I hope to see you in Sydney!

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Blogger Ms Unreliable said...

I signed up last year and was so disappointed when it was called off. Not sure if I can make it this year but glad to hear you'll be on board!

May 07, 2009 2:47 AM  
Blogger Nick Sowers said...

See you there Geoff!

May 13, 2009 11:43 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Nick, that's very exciting news - I look forward to meeting you at last.

This is not at all definite, but Marcus Trimble, Dan Hill, and I have been discussing the possibility of a Postopolis! Sydney immediately following Urban Islands, and it would be fantastic to get you to present your work there, if that would interest you. We can discuss over email - first, though, we actually have to confirm a venue and such like, so it's not guaranteed to happen. But, either way, I'm looking forward to seeing you there.

And, Ms Unreliable, too bad about last year, but it would be great to meet you, as well, if you are around for any of the events. Dan, Marcus, and I are doing that lecture/event/thing on the 14th, for instance, if you can stop by.

Really excited about this in general, actually. I can't wait to spend more time in Sydney than merely sitting in the airport.

May 15, 2009 12:12 AM  

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