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National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission Design Competition

Date: 2023

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Project Team: Five Mile Radius, Julia Watson

Client: National Gallery of Victoria

‘A Chance to Feel Alive’ is an optimistic piece of carbon-negative community infrastructure. It responds to the pulse of its city context, drawing its carbon-based frame from the deconstructed remnants of previous generations of buildings. 

Fed by a symbiosis between the site, sunshine, and a multitude of non-human species, the linear shelter protects from the evolving climate while creating outdoor rooms of interspecies engagement. In Melbourne’s urbanised setting, our abundant resource, construction waste becomes the framework of a modular system for shelter, movement and dwelling. 

The project draws from examples of indigenous technologies that use local materials to empower communities towards climate-resilience. In India, the Khasi people create monsoon-proof bridges by training rubber trees to grow over local natural scaffolds. In Iraq, houses made from one ubiquitous material, Qasab reeds, float to withstand fluctuating water levels.

This system becomes a scaffold to the living, hosting plants which eventually blanket the structure, absorbing atmospheric carbon through an organic, responsive canopy.

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