We recently held our third New Build forum, a talk series that aims to create a network of studios, trades and consultants shaping the built environment of Brisbane. It was great to catch up with everyone and discuss the future of Brisbane.Read More
Back to Ahmedabad
I am back in India to learn about the informal communities in which people live in Ahmedabad. In order to give back to the people I am learning from, I am volunteering again with Manav Sadhna to coordinate arts and crafts activities in one of their newest centres. Teaching art to students of all ages provides a way for me to transfer knowledge, get to know the families who live here and understand the community's daily rhythms.
Something I am struck with almost every day here is how difficult it is to keep clean. It is dusty and the pollution is extreme, many roads are unpaved and water only comes on for 2 hours per day. And yet, every day I see sparkling men, women and children heading out to jobs, school and chores. Who is responsible for the enormous feat of collecting, storing and boiling water on the stove every single day for each family member to bathe? Who washes their clothes by hand? Women. The incredible women of these communities have an emotional and physical strength that can sometimes defy belief.
Each trip to India teaches me more and more. I am so grateful to the communities I work with for providing such an important opportunity for me to learn and for extending the warm hand of friendship. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the data and sharing what I learn!
My submission for the Global Change Scholars 'Idea's For Change' independent project won first prize! The task was to demonstrate the ways in which my academic work speaks to global trends, and how that work might drive some aspect of global change.
I feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to spend four days at Lady Elliot Island to learn about sustainable development and the Great Barrier Reef as part of the Global Change Scholars Program at the University of Queensland.
It was super fun hanging out and snorkelling with my thirty fellow PhD students in the program! We're all from varying backgrounds so it was great to hear how each of them were going and how they were finding their PhD experience.
We were really lucky to have the opportunity to speak with Peter Gash (Managing Director of Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, amongst other things) and Anna Marsden (Managing Director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, amongst other things). The lessons they had to pass on were timely and significant. Particularly the importance of hard work combined with passion in any success story, being ready and willing to adapt, the importance of the people around us (we focus a lot on individual success stories, but in reality we only achieve things with the help of people that surround us) and not letting your ego or politics get in the way of bigger and more important goals.
Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay (a small sandy island on the surface of a coral reef) located at the southern tip of Australia's World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef. When Europeans found the island it was covered in 2m of bird poo (guano)! Which they mined, cutting down all the trees in the process. The Island was almost lost but for the work of some exceptional humans who endeavoured to restore the native habitat and ensure that even though the Great Barrier Reef is suffering from severe degradation at the hands of climate change, this area will be protected and act as a refuge or 'ark' from which to rebuild the Reef. Currently it is home for over 1,200 species of marine life and unspoilt coral reef. I saw so many turtles snorkelling! They are such magical creatures underwater 🐟🐢🐡
Lady Elliot Island is moving to 100% renewable energy by 2020, not just so that they operate with less of an impact on the environment, but also because it is cheaper and more efficient for them to do so.
Tess spoke about our winning design for the Density and Diversity Done Well competition.Read More
Tess and I won the Density and Diversity Done Well Competition run by the Queensland Government, one of seven winning schemes! We're stoked to be part of the conversation about how we can make our city and state more liveable.
The Paired Twin House
Our proposal is shown located in a typical Brisbane suburb, where we aimed to celebrate the SEQ context and climate by retaining the desirable human scale and leafy green qualities of suburbia. A number of key strategic planning legislation manoeuvres allow affordable development to be delivered incrementally at the scale of a single site or with multiple owners over time.
Our four key manoeuvres are coupled with critical infrastructure support and a more efficient use of public space to facilitate a denser and more diverse Brisbane:
- Green, diverse streets for people (think lots of trees, safe bike lanes, additional public transport, pocket parks and smart waste water management)
- Sensitive infill with a zero-lot setback (let's activate streets! and allow for a more diverse range of housing)
- Off-street car parking re-prioritised (frontages taken up by double car garages create dead-zones on our streets which are not very safe)
- Retaining backyards (we love green space and need to retain it to protect native habitat corridors, views, light, air and privacy)
You can check out our competition entry on the QLD Government's Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning site by scrolling down to our entry.
New Build Brisbane is an interdisciplinary panel event that helps to form a network of new studios, trades and consultants that are shaping the built environment in Queensland. It provides a platform for emerging practices in the fields of architecture, landscape, planning, construction, research and development to present their story, vision and process.Read More
New Build Brisbane is a network of studios, trades and consultants shaping the built environment of Brisbane. We had our first Forum on Thursday with a huge turnout!Read More
Last night I spoke about working in Asia with four other architects as part of the Asia Pacific Architecture Forum.Read More
Niini and I talked about the process of building Bholu 15 preschool in India.Read More
A collection of photographs from an adventure to Melbourne and Meredith to listen to music, laugh and dance.Read More
Memories of travel in India.Read More
Photographs of a small village in Uttarakhand, India.Read More
Tess and I won an honourable mention for a design competition in The Netherlands.Read More
On Friday, September 2, I gave a talk for the EmAGN Value Series on my experiences working in India to a lovely crowd at BVN.Read More
Aavjo [Gujurati] : meaning : goodbye, see you soon, come back soonRead More
At Gandhi Ashram ice cream is for sale when a particular bell rings, and when “subjiiiiiiiiii!” is bellowed in the distance, it means it is either 8.30am or 5.30pm and fresh vegetables are available for sale. These sounds were foreign when I first arrived, but have worked their way into my daily routine here. Place identity involves all the senses, but does knowing how to behave mean that you belong?
After inaugurating the preschool and finishing up my work I ascended into the cool of the Uttarakhand mountains. We walked through lush forests and alpine meadows, had chai with shepards and visited the worlds highest Shiva temple. A few days experiencing village life in Sari allowed me to witness the construction of a new house in dry stone. The intricate dry stone construction keeps interiors warm in winter, cool in summer and sits imbedded in its landscape. It takes a long time to construct using this method, so many people are changing to faster structures built of concrete and prefabricated blocks and bricks.
The capacity for informal and borrowed use of space in India is an unusual and exciting experience for an architect used to restrictive planning controls. In a small civic space in Connaught Place, New Delhi, trees, garden beds and columns provide the moment to pause, to gather, to talk on the phone or to sit or lean on suitable ledges or tree trunks. Circulation weaves through leftover zones between groupings of activity. Arcades and broad tree canopies provide much needed shade. People are drawn to spaces that provide shelter and amenity - in this case, shade from the searing heat and a place to sit or lean.
The activities that make Connaught Place a vibrant, interesting and appealing place to be are temporal, ephemeral: the meeting of people, the temporary stalls selling fruit, sunglasses and snacks, the communal water jug, the swapping of stories, the ability to temporarily park your bike. Although the built form provides an anchor it is the spaces between that provide the setting for life to happen.
There are many thank yous to go around: to Manav Sadhna for their incredible work in the Tekra community and in particular Harshaben, Ajaybhai, Shirishbhai, Maheshbhai and Himanshubhai. To our fantastic volunteers from Manav Sadhna and CEPT University, in particular Harshil and Shaialja who worked tirelessly with us to finish the project. Our Bholu 15 teachers Varshaben and Maduben who supplied us with chai, saris and teach the beautiful children of Bholu 15. The Paryavaran Mitra community and Rashmeben for helping us with our plastic rainbow and being so accommodating to sharing their work space with a construction site. A huge thank you to our construction team from Baka Constructions who worked tirelessly 7 days a week to create this building: Bakabhai, Hashmokbhai, Nitin, Hemant and Vishal. And, of course, our fantastic TAP mentors Jane J and Jane R for their enthusiasm, encouragement and advice.