︎︎︎MEAGAN BROOKS


Power generation is currently removed from our daily life. Pushed to the urban outskirts in regional la trobe valley, Victoria’s coal power plants continuously run - separated from the everyday civilian but perhaps more importantly, separated from the authorities and agencies who manage the dispersal of energy to Melbourne’s electricity grid.

As we move towards a post carbon future, the processes that are currently in place for carbon generating energy methods (coal) will no longer be relevant and a system wide questioning is required. This project looks to reduce the separation of power generation and daily life through the combined housing of sustainable energy output, specifically the anaerobic digestion system, and the governing agencies that oversee its dispersal (AEMO, AER, ACC, VIC GRID, and any future agencies).

Located in Carlton, on the site where the Corkman Pub once sat, this combination of program results in an intersection or hybridisation of typology – powerplant & office, forcing an interrogation into what these systems are to begin with and the histories and futures that are embedded within them.

As coal powerplants continue to be decommissioned, remnants of their infrastructure are left behind. Forgotten. This building recontextualises these as objects to an urban setting, inserting them into the office typology structure alongside the Anaerobic Digester. While previous projects considered the intersection of these objects and the office structure through the process of subtraction, carving away at the host structure to allow for the insertion of the new system, this project approaches the insertion as a consideration of the process itself. The site and building become a record for this shifting of time and movement, a fading and layering of intertwining occupation. Negotiating the sites history, its construction, the energy systems history and its present. 

French philosopher Damisch describes Architecture as a system of signs, or rather, functions. If we break down built form, it could be said that we are left with structure, and even further, columns and beams. The column has no role but to bear weight. In classical, or in this case generic architecture, it becomes a support for rational and regular forms. The column is sign of the generic, it is an icon of the office typology.

This project questions this order. Removing all columns, the building is now supported by the old coal infrastructure, inserted to enable the intersection of the office and digester typologies.  The past is physically allowing and facilitating future.

What the building is doing, what it is, and what it looks like are now indistinguishable.

With this converging times existing in this building, the building becomes a container of sorts for the history and future of power generation - complimented by its program of the government agencies that are in charge of the systems. A catalyst for future urban power plants.

This is a building for power, that powers.