Amber Gallen talks design inspiration, past projects and the role research has played on her grad project.
Describe your proposal in 3 key words:
Electrification, Pulsation, Innovation
Who is your favourite designer / who are you currently taking inspiration from?
At the moment, I am taking inspiration from the late Louis Kahn. His poetic approach to space is highly sophisticated and innovative yet simple and refined, which is something I really connect with. Each of his spaces have their own soul as a result of carefully considered materiality and natural light. This mastery of natural light is something I am currently learning from, looking at buildings such as the National Assembly Building, Bangladesh, which inspires the use of shadow play and the incredibly effective properties of darkness. Kahn’s projects have encouraged my approach to push the organic elements of design and make well-informed, gentle gestures to a site such as White Bay.
What has been your favourite design project so far, why?
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco, One Night Feast has been my favourite completed design project to date. The building itself is beautiful but the somewhat gruesome history of the surrounding site and the significance to Venetian culture holds so many stimuli. My design was based around the cruel irony of Venice’s dependence on the import and export of goods by sea to survive, which inevitably bought about their demise, expertly crafted and engineered ships sailed into port carrying opulence, riches and treasures but also suffering, disease and death in the form of the Bubonic Plague, Pestilence. My design intent was to bring together the juxtaposition of death and beauty and it’s ability to coexist.
The one night feast element of the project enabled an opportunity to make a statement regarding opulence and gluttony, which is an issue close to home working as a chef and growing up on a farm surrounded by livestock. By using animal by-products in beautiful and haunting ways such as preserved intestinal tissue feature lights to led dipped chicken feet lamps and fine bone china dinnerware I aimed to highlight our current societies over consumption and waste.
I enjoyed this project because of its combination of challenging components from the thorough research that gave solid understanding to the site, creating an interactive and theatrical dining experience as well as using innovating materiality.
Amber's Scuola - One Night Feast
What role did research have on your scheme?
Research of the White Bay Power Station and its impact on Sydney has played a vital role in both my Pump House proposal and associated programs as an entrepreneurial innovation hub.
At the time of construction post World War 1, Australia was entering into the Industrial revolution, which demanded the electrification of Sydney to power factories, machinery and transport networks. These tram and train networks webbed their way over Sydney for over 290km of tracks, larger than Melbourne’s existing network. These transport networks were powered primarily by White Bay and shape Sydney’s suburban landscape we know today.
The introduction of electricity coupled with the rapid growth of population completely changed the social dynamic of the city; spaces that were once unusable at night became gathering hubs and places for social interaction. Electricity led to new technologies and new inventions creating new jobs and generating wealth for the city, immigration boomed Sydney became a global destination.
Further research looked into Australia’s intergenerational report and the social trends that are happening today, looking at the need for new industries, more jobs and supportive institutions for innovation, which led to looking at collaborative workspaces around Sydney, Australia and the world. Many cooperative spaces house only one program, such as The Nest, Copenhagen which is co-living space for the like minded or Fishburners, Sydney which is solely IT based. This research drove the decision to create the Pump House, Australia’s first co-working, co-creating and co-living program. Bringing together the electrification and socialisation elements of the 1920’s to create an inspiring collaborative environment unique to Sydney and a creative destination for other nationalities. The Pump House will transform White Bay Power Station from an industrial innovation icon to an intellectual innovation icon.
Research in regards to materials and methods have all so been important to my design decisions of form and spatial organisation. Experiments were used to explore the concept of networks and establish a strong understanding of connections. A parametric approach has been taken from the Macro form to the Micro details of the site to create an organic journey through a series of spaces with very different uses. By looking at precedents and researching new technologies I have also been able to look at more sustainable options for materials and keep a light footprint in direct contrast to the contaminating and polluting history of White Bay Power Station.
To find out more about Amber's work, please head to: https://imprint.be.unsw.edu.au/projects/amber-gallen