Purpose-built student housing is one of the dominant development typologies occurring in inner Sydney at the moment. Service providers such as UrbanNest and Unilodge develop housing types based on an ‘ideal’ student housing brief that engineer living conditions to maximise satisfaction of paying parents. To that end Adam Russell ran a design studio in the second semester of 2014 that used design as a means of testing the premise of ‘ideal’ student housing by exploring a myriad of high density dwelling types that offered potential for housing students.
The studio was titled Urban Coagulate and located amidst the inherent tensions between urbanity and domesticity, and between exploiting the site and propagating the city. Students developed knowledge in collective housing, urban morphology and the topographic building and through this knowledge speculated within the ambitions of the following reference questions:
Beyond meeting its internal programmatic ambitions what contribution can a large project make to the city?
How can the topographic building reconcile complex urban conditions with emerging urban housing needs?
What new prototypical housing models can we develop to invite new modes of collective living?
What role can the housing ‘site’ play in redefining what it means to dwell in the city beyond the private domestic environment?
Sydney’s southern CBD has undertaken a radical transformation over the last five years. The site sits at the confluence of South Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Central Station and the growing knowledge hub of Ultimo. There are many existing specialist institutions in, and new facilities planned for the area. The present level of activity suggests a scale of specialised urban renewal seldom seen in Sydney. The site is located central to this activity and in a prime position for the culturing of new living communities and housing models.
In line with the evolution of cultures, housing typologies have constantly changed. Now, more than ever, with busier lives, digitally connected communities and affordability issues, the size, format and flexibility of housing needs to be examined and tested. The city is extending into our private domains through digital media and telecommunications. Conversely our personal worlds are divulging in public spheres. We share more than we used to. The younger generations have exchanged the desire to accumulate possessions for the urge to be connected.
The places we traditionally meet, eat, share and rest are craving new spaces and forms. The ‘urban dwelling’ as a noun has become submissive to it’s verb format. To ‘dwell’ in the urban is to live in the city.
The topographic building – Neither podium tower typology, nor pancake or slab typology, the ‘topographic building’ is understood as a hybrid building form (or series of buildings in close proximity) that blur the distinctions between public and private space. The topographic building extends the public urban armatures and enclaves of the city into the site boundary and over multiple activated levels. Horizontal circulation is usually prioritized over vertical. The unconventional or ‘un-coded’ spaces possible in the topographic building invite alternative forms of collective dwelling in the city.
Students: Adam TALIANO, Benjamin PEAKE, Derrick UONG, Elnaz BADELEH, Katherine HORSLEY, Maria BECK, Mike SHEN, Mina MORKHTARIKONDORI, Sezgin YILMAZ, Sora LA, Tran DANG, Tristan SCHMIDT, Wenli WANG and Yao XAING.