Author : Nicholas Stathopoulos

University : RMIT University

Status : MArch, 2014

Advisor : Anna Johnson

Title : In Search of a Suburban Domain

In Search of a Suburban Domain is a hypothesis on an evolving social crisis in Melbourne’s middle and outer suburbs.

Melbourne’s suburbs continue to be labelled as a place of ‘soulless beings’, a product of spatial polarization that is recasting the landscape of our city. This major project aims at removing this label by bringing the event to the suburbs and providing families and individuals with an architecture that is symbolic, active and representational of a new beginning.

In order to successfully form public domain, the proposal begins with a critique of the key source of the issue, the urban growth boundary, and repositions it to restrict development to a 30km radius of the city. In doing so we are forced to rethink unconventional sites for living in order to absorb the forecasted population and increase density to support and seed public activity.

The proposed architecture is intended to act as a catalyst that injects itself into an existing town centre and amplifies public activity through large scale entertainment and sports, as a way to intensify, bring together and restart the suburbs. This proposed architecture takes form of a stadium that amplifies and celebrates an existing sporting culture, and becomes fractured, inverted and manipulated to establish new relationships with its context. Within the stadium, additional programs are held to condense social activity. A science museum (science being the core ingredient in developing the future society), a nightclub and bar, (the retreat from our machine like lifestyle), transportation hub (a tactic to engage with people through their mode of travel) and additional recreational, lifestyle and indeterminate spaces are included to expose individuals to familiar and unfamiliar behaviour.

The intent of this major project is to remind us of the importance of the public sphere as it plays a crucial role in the formation of our future society. It reminds us that we are part of a collective whole. A place where our differences meet and our lifestyle choices, opinions and beliefs are questioned. A place where we are challenged to strengthen our personalities and identity. Without public domain we are reduced to a society of individuals. The public sphere is crucial to a healthy functioning democracy. A condition which is disappearing in a suburban context.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Nicholas Stathopoulos_ The project is a product of my upbringing in the suburbs, experiencing displacement and moving further away from the city (the event) due to a continuing rise in housing prices. The intent of the scheme is to bring ‘the event’ to the suburbs, not rely on the city as a place of activity, and provide families and individuals with a public space that caters for their basic social needs.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
NS_ Film, sport, history and philosophy.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
NS_ To trust in yourself, believe in your ideas and believe you have the power to make a difference.

S//A : Describe your dream project
NS_ My dream project would definitely be similar to my major project. A large scale, public focused project, that could potentially revitalize a neighbourhood that is derelict and lacking in community.