house in the sky
a thin solution to a tight budget
This project was the initiative of five western metropolitan councils, sponsored by the Department of Infrastructure and guided by VicRoads. It is the first of five roadside projects aimed at changing perceptions of Melbourne’s western suburbs.
The budget of $95,000 didn’t allow a freeway size sculpture. However, we thought that it might just allow for an enormous 2D drawing that might just, with the use of the rules of perspective, look like a 3D object.
house in the sky was the result, and it is installed 50m above the Geelong Freeway and Western Ring Road interchange. Its arrival on site signaled the beginning of the transformation of Melbourne’s western suburbs from industrial heartland (wasteland) to suburban paradise.
At the time, the site was located on the fringe of the metropolis, consisting of suburban fabric containing low-cost housing and some retail services, but dominated by industrial estates. However, the area had aspirations of becoming
the place to fulfill the Australian suburban dream – a home of one’s own on a quarter acre block.
If architecture is only the projects produced by those who have attended architecture programs at university, then these suburbs may well be considered architecture-free zones. However, if architecture is the built fabric that a society
chooses to inhabit, then these suburbs are full of architecture – an architecture as complex and as nuanced as any in the history books, on any syllabus, of any architectural program, in any city, in any country. We believe in the latter and
consequently believe architects need to fully engage with suburbia.
the poetry of everyday life
Robert Venturi’s, Peter Corrigan’s, and Maggie Edmond’s interest in the complexity and contradiction and the ugliness and ordinariness of the suburbs; the sublime suburban images of Howard Arkley; and the intriguing ideas of Duchamp (found object and time as a content of art); all conspired to inspire us.
The project is a suspended two-dimensional perspective drawing of the Australian suburban dream home. The drawing explores the rich and complex iconography of that suburban dream. After consulting a specialist in popular culture and it’s iconography (Dr. Derham Groves form the University of Melbourne). We constructed an icon-filled perspective drawing of the suburban dream house: curved driveway, exotic deciduous planting, curved path to prominent front porch supported by large columns, minime letterbox, picket fence, arched windows, gathered drapes in the windows, security screen to front door, pitched tiled roof, chimney, and of course a prominent TV aerial.
Also important – the project’s tensile assemblage of steel cables, pipes and columns, seems to belong in the context of high voltage power lines, pylons and the geometries of the freeway interchange.
house in the sky is both a two-dimensional drawing of a three-dimensional object, and a three-dimensional object in itself. Momentary views change with the position of the observer in their vehicle, and the speed at which they are travelling. As the observer approaches, the perceived three-dimensional form is revealed as a two-dimensional plane, then a line, that almost disappears before again stretching out in reverse – line to plane to formal illusion – in the rear view mirror. Observers only ever have a few seconds and in those few seconds it is constantly in a state of becoming.
Being elevated against the sky also constantly changes house in the sky. Sometimes shining in a low sun against a dark sky, other times hiding in a grey clouds. Sometimes crisp against a blue sky, other times glowing lilac against the
blackness of night.