Read: Anupama Kundoo and her pedagogy of hands-on design education

Date: July 2, 2013

Author: HY William Chan

HYWCImageLast week, I ventured to the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre to document the gallery space in which Anupama Kundoo’s project, Light Matters, would be exhibited in as part of CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade. Being inside the exhibition halls brought back memories of my work last year with Anupama Kundoo at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. In particular, her relentless passion in bridging the gap between architectural theory and practice.

I spent over a month working with 20 other students and professionals to build a full-scale replica Kundoo’s original and highly-acclaimed vaulted house in Venice. The hands-on learning advocated by Kundoo allowed me to develop a pragmatic understanding of design and construction. Even though I was completely out of my comfort zone for the majority of the time, the project offered me the opportunity to apply what I had learnt at architecture school into a real-world situation.

I was challenged to not only think like an interdisciplinary professional, but was encouraged by Kundoo to put my ideas into practice and make it a reality. Whether it was creating a structural timber platform, ferrocement steps or the exhibition lighting design, I was able to learn from both my successes and failures and that of the collective team. It was a definite highlight to have been able to collaborate beyond disciplinary and cultural barriers, working alongside architects, engineers, project managers and craftsmen from Australia, India and Italy.

The exhibit, Light Matters, for CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade once again has benefited students from the University of Queensland to gain practical experience and to see their design development come to fruition. As the UQ Research Scholar for the School of Architecture, I am able to extend my knowledge from Venice and build on Kundoo’s low-tech and sustainable architecture. This week, I will be working on-site with five of the top Master of Architecture students from UQ, as well as architect Kim Baber and engineer Greg Killen, to install the origami-inspired shelter that has been developed over five months.

No doubt the installation will be a learning curve for me and the other students. It will be challenging but the practical skills that we will learn will most definitely inform our future careers as architects. CUSP: Designing for the Next Decade showcases the designs of the future, but for Anupama Kundoo’s exhibit, it will also have helped shape the designers of the next decade.