︎︎︎DARCIE VELLA


Modern agricultural and farming landscapes can be examined through conceptions of leisure, large-scale planning, climate change, migration, human and non-human ecosystems, market-driven preservation, artificial and organic co-existence. Much of contemporary urban life requires the organisation, abstraction, and automation of these landscapes at an unprecedented scale.
Globally, the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the production of electricity and heat, agriculture, and transportation. The way in which we consume these systems is kept out of the realm of interaction, invisible in the everyday activity of consumption.

Enter the mushroom. Within this new system of energy production, the mycelium sits directly within these existing structures. Growing within, around and eventually over - it replicates the industrial relics of the carbon age creating a new tectonic of our post-carbon futures. The growth overtime moves from a mere replication to a parasite that overruns its existing host. This project analyses our consumer society, one that is generally blind to the political, environmental, and ethical issues regarding consumption, aiming to challenge this process within the urban fabric of the CBD.

Enter the butcher. Or technically the fake butcher. Upstairs sits a space built entirely for non-humans. Replicating the mass automation of the countryside yet eliminating the need for large scale transport routes to reach its main consumers. The butcher acts as a mediator between the human and non-human interaction of these spaces. This deli interface presents a more pleasant experience for the consumer, yet you begin to read and understand the darker, uninhabitable area that sits above it.

The gabion replicates the façade of the warehouse that previously occupied the site, which was strongly associated with the agricultural implement businesses established in this part of Bourke St. It leaves a trace of the architectural expression that remains among the overgrown mycelium. The intersection of the two materials can be seen in the growth of the mycelium, the grid of the gabion infilled by the static movement of the fungus that forms the building.

It used to take five years for a cow to reach its mature weight where it was ready for slaughter and processing. Now, due to the higher demand for animal products and the needs of mass production, feed yards have reduced this time to less than 18 months. This speed requires growth hormones and antibiotics in the cow’s diet and efficiency in the architecture of the feed lot. It could be assumed that in a post-carbon future, the need for these processes could be eliminated through new technologies that allow for the production of meat without the cow.

The non-human zone looks beyond the traditional spaces of manufacturing developed by industrialists, looking at the spatial implications of the assembly line towards more post Fordist’s manufacturing processes that are based entirely on efficiency, both spatial and in process. It is the highly efficient, uncomfortable, non-human space for the production of fake meat.
The rows of vertical shelving systems that contain the growth apparatus for the fake meat would be claustrophobic for a human yet is designed to suit the spatial needs for robotic, automated movement. The project simultaneously exposes where we were and where we are going. It creates localised resistance, while looking toward a brighter, post-carbon future.