At the very start of the semester, I became morbidly fascinated with some of the power infrastructure in Victoria, and I came to see it as mystical, almost lovecraftian in its enormity. I also questioned the agency of the architect w/r/t addressing the infestation of carbon modernity in human subjectivity. Namely, whether we have very little agency, or any at all. The effort toward sustainability over the past decade has been immense, and we have precisely nothing to show for it. Our tobogganing toward collapse has only accelerated. An egress is required, a flight to the exterior. Something totally new. That’s what I’ve been trying to find.

The stirling engine, as precipitator & as analogy (for entropy, for the synthesis of knowledge and practice, etc) is at the start of all things, beginning the process. This power bootstraps the jellyfish farm, which begins to craft a self replicating condition. The jellyfish proceed to multiply, and their “goo” is then used in solar cells, which occupy the facade and grow the condition ad infinitum.

The stirling engine utilises a heat difference to generate useful motion. In this project they are nestled in large pillars, where occupants will sit and read while their body heat generates the power that kick-starts our escape. I’ve also been investigating the Green Fluorescent Protein, originating from jellyfish, as an alternative power source, and have developed a similar morbid obsession with it. I am reminded of Jimenez Lai’s archi-comic “Primitives,” in which the hunter-gatherer (mostly hunter) becomes the first architect when they use the skin of their prey for shelter, followed by performance.

This project, through the duality of the glowing green jellyfish solar cells and the stirling engine, through the duality of active practice and contemplative speculation, and through the duality of the avant-garde and the colonial, aims to modestly propose how the discipline of architecture might coagulate post-carbon. It does not “[loom] forward from an indistinct background, claiming its formal autonomy,” rather it descends into the pit,  refuses a consistent frontage (preferring something bulging, slipping and perforating). Nor is the frontage an entrance, the building is entered from inside of itself. It tries to be a bookstore, or a library, as well as an aquarium. On the inside, it is also characterised by a blur, with numerous conditions flitting from one to the next with conflated shape languages and materialities that make it unclear when one condition begins and the other ends. It considers the way architecture may encode memory, by replicating the medieval crypt as a bank of capacitors, and a transitory gesture throughout the building. Large, malformed pillars act as stacks, containing stirling engines that are used as places of quiet reading. Then it becomes a domestic kitchen, almost, that overlooks Trades Hall’s own old council room. Finally, there is a sprayed on edging to which the solar cells are stuck. This is a self replicating condition - something that architecture must embrace if we are to escape this predicament.

To quote Barber, “Not only is the HVAC hidden, [...] so is the labour exploitation, [...] and the toxification of the air.” These invisibles are examined and addressed. We seek the aforementioned “self-reinforcing errancy, flight, or escape.” What is to be done, then, with a neoclassical edifice on stolen land? I aim to besiege it with the war machine that is thought, treating it also as a proxy for Frichot’s aforementioned degenerate architectural paradigm. I don’t imagine the occupants of Trades Hall would be against this, especially considering the radical politics of the place that was half the reason I chose this site. I see them as allies in this process.

The undercroft is full of the rubble collected and placed in an orderly fashion during the construction/destruction process (still ongoing). Like the rubble which was piled into the undercroft of the shrine of remembrance that was used to shore up the structure above, this rubble acts like evidence, documenting the project, the changes that have been made. Some 22nd century restorers may deign to remove the new work, and place all those bricks back where they belong. This project does not aim to preclude that - it is intended as a more humble offering, to the city, and to Trades Hall.

1. Frichot, Creative Ecologies. p.7
2. Barber, “After Comfort.”
3. Land, “A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism.”
4. Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus. p.467 5.  Frichot, Creative Ecologies. p.7

  1. Barber, Daniel. “After Comfort.” Log, no. 47 (Fall 2019): 45–50.
  2. Buck, Holly Jean. “Carbonscapes By Design.” Log, no. 47 (Fall 2019).
  3. Colquhoun, Matthew. “A U/Acc Primer.” Xenogothic (blog), March 4, 2019. https://xenogothic.com/2019/03/04/a-u-acc-primer/.
  4. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.
  5. Frichot, Hélène. Creative Ecologies: Theorizing the Practice of Architecture. New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018.
        Land, Nick. “A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to               Accelerationism.” Jacobite (blog), May 25, 2017.             https://jacobitemag.com/2017/05/25/a-quick-            and-dirty-introduction-to-accelerationism/.