2015 Inception Award | Laura Casey

Rearranging Place

An exploration into the relationship between space and place

Rearranging place is a project which stemmed from my enquiry into the relationship between place and space. Space was defined as a practiced terrain, the formation of relations between matter. Place was defined as a time dependent entity existing in the past, present and future. In essence this research analysed the creation of places and how the transformation from a location being a place to a space or vice versa occurs.

Through a process of destabilisation and rearrangement ‘rearranging place’ critically examines the current restoration of Villa Alba in Kew in order to create a series of new sites and places.

A domestic interior turned museum, Villa Alba is situated within a residential precinct on Walmer Street in Kew, Victoria. The property itself built between 1882-1884 is of particular significance given its unique and lavishly decorated interior. This project deals with the house in a variety of ways, it examines my direct engagements with the house, the current program of the house (being a museum for viewing and a site of restoration), the structural composition of the house and the content of the site (both present and absent) including historical and contemporary written material and surface treatments.

Beginning with an initial process of documenting and processing my direct engagements with the house through photography and framing I then moved to collage in an effort to further extrapolate these experiences and associated ideas. Collaging flowed on to the next phase in the design process.

In 1897 the entire contents of the house was auctioned off in a two day sale, the contents of the sale is documented in the 67 page catalogue featuring over 1000 auction items. This catalogue was dissected into over 1000 individual items and arranged room by room into what became abstract spatial scripts. These collages acted almost like floor plans and became a starting point for the series of automatic drawings that followed. The contents of the 1897 auction catalogue allowed for a significant insight into the social histories and interactions once present within the house.

These ideas were further explored through a series of hand drawings which allowed for a visual expression of the imagined spatial arrangements present within the reading of the abstract spatial scripts. These drawings themselves to a certain extent remained ambiguous. This ambiguity became an important part of this project as to allow the viewer/participant of the work to place themselves within the collages, drawings or models and draw out their own spatial trajectories. To make place.The structure of the house was modelled in 3D and then dissected into a range of components in accordance with the previous roles of particular rooms or adjacencies. Dissected elements were then assembled into new spatial arrangements.

This series of drawings aimed to challenge the role of the 1880’s residential interior. The structure of the house once a backdrop for furniture and social interactions has now become a dynamic series of new sites with the potential for continual rearrangement.

The conclusionary piece to this project took form in a series of scaleless models. This series of models allowed for a coming together of the ideas and spatial arrangements explored within the previous photographs, collages and drawings. The models remained ambiguous to an extent, much like that of the earlier collages and drawings. This became key to understanding how as designers we can design interiors which allow people to make place. The models allow for the viewer to insert themselves into these interiors or perhaps engage with the models as a device. Although the models represent the final step in this design process, they act as a conclusionary piece. It was clear that the larger furniture scaled elements developed from the models spoke of the next phase to this project. There is deliberate openness to the process, the body of work is seemingly unfinished, without definite end. As design research it allows speculation upon a future practice that is driven by design making and conscious of participatory involvement in the making of place.