February 22
from 6:00pm
Mark Burry (SIAL, RMIT University) Liquid Stone FedSq
BMW Edge
March 29
from 7:30pm
Kim Halik Arcane of achitecture RMIT 8.11.68
April 12
from 6:00pm
Mathew van Kooy The authority of the architect: concerning discourse and method FedSq
BMW Edge
May 10
from 7:30pm
Louise Mackenzie (Cinema Studies, La Trobe University) From the circular bouelvard to the merry-go-round-a-bout: the lamentation (Tativille) and resolve of the destruction and loss of Paris in Jacques Tati's Play Time RMIT 8.11.68
June 14
from 6:00pm for drinks presented by Woods Bagot
James Calder, Global Director of Workplace, Woods Bagot Pandemonium in the office: comparisons of uncertainty and change with the industrial and information technology revolutions FedSq
BMW Edge
July 19
from 6:00pm
Ash Keating Environmentally Challenged FedSq
BMW Edge
August 9
from 6:30pm
Adam Parker Arche-techne: On the architectural and philosophical scaffolding of new technology concepts for robotic materials RMIT 8.11.68
August 16
from 6:30pm
Felicity Scott (Columbia, NY) Ant Farm RMIT 8.11.68
September 13
from 6:00pm
Scott McQuire Urban Screens Project FedSq
BMW Edge
October 11
from 6:30pm
Sufern Hoe From Skyline to
Streetlife: (Re)Designing Singapore into a Creative Economy
RMIT 8.11.68
October 25
from 6:30pm
Teresa Stoppani,
Greenwich University, London
Grid effects in architecture RMIT 8.11.68
November 8
from 6:00pm
Peta Carlin (SIAL, RMIT University) Haptic / Optic FedSq
BMW Edge
December 6
from 6:00pm
A/Prof Katja Grillner (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) Nature’s Lover: Figuring a Landscape Designer RMIT 8.11.68

... with the possibility of more sessions – bookmark this page, or join the mailing list to remain updated on the series and other events and publications of interest.


RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory

When Frank Lloyd Wright coined the term organic architecture was he thinking about revealing life-forces within his architecture, or is his sense of the organic limited to being one ‘of’ the architecture; organic architecture simply an architecture that sits well with natural world?

The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is usually among those grouped as the organic architects. Architectural commentator David Pearson provides eight themes to define organic architecture - ‘building as nature,’ ‘continuous present’, ‘form follows flow’, ‘of the people’, ‘of the hill’, ‘of the material’, ‘youthful and unexpected’ and ‘living music’. These are the core ingredients for his Gaia Charter for Organic Architecture and Design. In several ways Gaudí's inclusion seems too easy, especially as a characteristic that helps define Gaudí's work is the way he breathes life into otherwise inert stone in ways others have never attempted. He achieved this through going beyond representation and insinuating meaning into his work. He defeated the material realities of cold hard masonry and rendered it fluid by implication rather than through sculptured reference to nature alone. His liquid stone engages the thinker long after the mere admirer has moved on to fresh targets for their approbation.

PROFESSOR MARK BURRY is director of RMIT’s state-of-the-art Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory, which has been established as a holistic interdisciplinary research environment dedicated to almost all aspects of contemporary design activity. The laboratory focuses on collocated design research and undergraduate and postgraduate teaching with associated advanced computer applications and the rapid prototyping of ideas. The laboratory has a design-practice emphasis and acts as a creative think-tank accessible to both local and international practices, including ARUP in Melbourne and London, dECOi in Paris and Gehry Partners in Los Angeles.

  • Professor of Innovation (Spatial Information Architecture) at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Director, Design Institute, RMIT University
  • Executive Architect and Researcher to the Temple Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Visiting Professor, Liverpool University, UK.
  • Professorial Research Fellow, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Conjoint Professor, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, University of Newcastle, Australia.
  • External Examiner, University of East London, UK, 2006 – ongoing.
  • Member of the Advisory Board of Gehry Technologies, Los Angeles, USA.
  • Member of Australian Research Council College of Experts.
  • Chair of the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design Research Leaders Group.
  • Member of CHASS (Council for the Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences) RQF Working Party 2007.
  • CHASS representative on the 2007 DEST Creative Arts, Design and Built Environment Panel.
  • Member of Editorial Board of Architectural Design (premier international architecture and design journal)

Professor Burry has published internationally on two main themes: the life and work of the architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, and putting theory into practice with regard to ‘challenging’ architecture; he has also published widely on broader issues of design, construction and the use of computers in design theory and practice. As Consultant Architect to the Temple Sagrada Família since 1979, Mark Burry has been a key member within the small team, untangling the mysteries of Gaudí’s compositional strategies for the Sagrada Família, especially those coming from his later years, the implications of which are only now becoming fully apparent as they are resolved for building purposes. On February 18 2004, in recognition of his contribution to this project, Professor Burry was given the prestigious award … ‘Diploma I la insignia a l’acadèmic corresponent’ and the title Senyor Il. Lustre by la Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. In May 2006 Mark was awarded an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship and he was recently the recipient of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Award for Innovative Research.

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Kim Halik

Thursday, 29 March
7:30pm in RMIT 8.11.68

If there is an arcane of architectural education, it concerns why architecture is not taught anymore in university courses: "I read a few good books, I worked for a few good architects, that's about it." No doubt it is possible to protect something by making it invisible. Some might find their way back, but this would be rare. It means reading obscure and unreadable texts, posthumously written, as one writer would have it. But of course the city keeps being built, and the students still come in droves. We gather them around and create a kind of enclave, made up of intimate conversations. The students are sometimes bewildered, confronted, scandalized – but out of love, not malice. Nietzsche said something about wanting his pupils to disown him; we hope they might remember us, one day, a long time from now; how we taunted and provoked and goaded them on to another kind of overcoming, to make their own way down toilsome wood-tracks.

KIM HALIK tutors in the Architecture and Design faculty of RMIT. He is currently working on an index of Hegel's Philosophy of Right.


Mathew van Kooy

6:00pm Thursday, April 12 at the BMW Edge, Federation Square

Architects today recognise that any attempt to create a new sense of social cohesion has to start from the recognition that individualism, diversity and scepticism are written into Western culture. In such an environment, the traditional qualitative architectural values of light, space and order seem
without adequate substance to establish a basis for the rationale and intent of the architect. The potentiality of the situation is that the traditional idea of architecture, defined by its ubiquity and permanence, is threatened with extinction.

Increasingly, architects are subscribing to theories and methods that are traditionally outside the discipline of architecture to authorise or legitimise their architectural designs. Contemporary critics contend that when architects do this they are not permitting, in fact denying, the ability and autonomy of their own ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowing’ to authorise their architectural designs effectively. These current architectural theories perpetuate a discourse that has lost its footing in the conditions of any ‘real world’ to the extent that any ideas based in architectural discourse rely on the activation of other factors for their survival. This increasing reliance on knowledge that is extrinsic to the discipline is pejorative as it dissipates the specificity of the architects epistemology. Implying outwardly that the fundamental processes of architectural ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowing’ lack sufficient magnitude to apply their own standards of authority both internally and more importantly today, externally.

This poses a serious difficulty for the authority of the architect's knowledge and knowing as an individual and discipline as a whole. Through unpicking current architectural theories and their associated epistemologies one might perhaps elucidate: What if anything is the authority of the architect?

MATHEW VAN KOOY is a graduate of the University of Queensland (2005) upon graduation Mathew received many accolades including the Innovarchi Thesis Prize, the Karl and Gertrude Langer Memorial Prize - Design, the Board of Architects Prize (BOAQ) and the QIA Memorial Medallion (RAIA). Mathew is currently part of a Melbourne based practice working both internationally and locally on architectural projects, specifically complex façade systems.

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Louise Mackenzie

7:30pm Thursday, May 10 in RMIT 8.11.68

“These days I feel sad because I have the impression that people are having less and less fun. They obviously dress better, they clearly wash more, they certainly have more hot water, they surely imbibe cooler drinks; and now their windows are larger, which means that they can get additional sun, but, in the past they lived on the street more and got all the sun they wanted there."
Jacques Tati

I begin with a discussion of Haussmann’s boulevards, where Tati grew up – and the transformation of which he criticises in his films. I then discuss Le Corbusier’s Voisin Plan in relation to Tati’s criticism of these ideas, what effects they had, and what Tati’s solutions are to the problems they created.

From here I discuss how Tati’s films show a change in the way of using and experiencing the street; this also involves, for Tati, notions of “sterile homogenisation” and “over” rationalisation. All the “dirt” and disease of the 19th century city (which killed people by the thousands) has been cleaned up – removed from Tativille – but perhaps Tati is saying that it has been taken too far, and that “all the life” has been taken out of the city.

In PLAYTIME all of Paris, as we know it, has been removed, and (as Le Corbusier suggested) only a few monuments remain. These are only caught in reflection – and as far as we know, in PLAYTIME, it is only the tourists who visit them.

Nothing of what Tati knows (and loves) of Paris remains. And yet Tati, in the face of something which for him is devastating, closes his film not in a position of despair, but of quite the opposite. At the end of PLAYTIME, we find ourselves in a round-a-bout: a place where one stays for a while, yet moves on. This round-a-bout is also a merry-go-round. As the film ends it fades almost to black: our travellers head off into the unknown. As we clearly see, these travellers (albeit a bit square) do know how to have fun – they know, just as Tati and Hulot know, about the importance of play time.

LOUISE MACKENZIE is a graduate of the University of Melbourne (Bachelor of Architecture) and La Trobe University (Bachelor of Arts – Cinema Studies). Louise is currently studying for the Master of Arts in cinema studies at La Trobe.

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JUNE: PANDEMONIUM IN THE OFFICE: Comparisons of uncertainty and change with the industrial and information technology revolutions
JAMES CALDER, Global Director of Workplace, Woods Bagot
Thursday, 14 June from 6:00pm for drinks presented by Woods Bagot
and the presentation from 6:30pm, BMW Edge, Federation Square

James Calder, Director of Workplace at the architecture, consulting and research firm Woods Bagot will present the thesis that we need a better understanding of the fundamental changes in societal and information technology, to be able to understand better the now and the future.

Comparisons of observations by contemporary observers of the industrial age and the technological age will be presented and examined, with ideas as to what all this may mean in terms of the workplace and our working lives.

The recently released WorkLife book, which James has edited, will be discussed and case studies of emerging trends will be presented.

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Ash Keating

6:00pm Thursday, 19 July at the BMW Edge, Federation Square



While we continue to enjoy the valuable support of RMIT Architecture for the series, Architecture+Philosophy is pleased to announce a new partnership with Federation Square for the 2007 series. As many sessions as possible will be held in the BMW Edge theatre, opening up the program to the wider public, who we hoped will venture up to RMIT to enjoy more presentations and discussions.

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Arche-techne: On the architectural and philosophical scaffolding of new technology concepts for robotic materials
Thursday, 6:30pm at RMIT 8.11.68
PDF presentation available here

A common feature of modern robotic devices is that they are designed within the categorical framework of the robot understood as a biomimetic system. This can be as overt an influence as the anthropomorphic nature of an android, or as subtle as the worker replacement of a Cartesian manipulator arm. Biomimetic influences on robotic design can be seen to manifest in robot morphology, where animal locomotion and perception studies play a considerable role in suggesting engineering research directions and solutions, as well as in control systems, which commonly use models derived from various methods of modeling organic cognition. Biomimesis also shapes the very categorical structures we use to describe robots as robots, and outlines their social purpose.

A major outcome for robotic user interfaces of this trend to biomimesis is that the problem is often couched in terms of communication with a synthetic organism. A lot of progress has already been made along this communicative path, as was also made in human-computer interaction. Yet, thanks to tangible interaction and other fields of interaction research, we know that computers are not simply communication devices and can be conceived otherwise - so, following this analogically, how might a robot be alternatively conceptualized? And what might we gain from so doing?

In approaching this problem, my research has been necessarily grounded in a pragmatic analysis of robotic engineering. At the same time, it has operated in an analytic-critical fashion between the twin poles of architectural practice (in a broad sense) and philosophy. In particular, I have been influenced by Bergson, Heidegger, Whitehead, von Glasersfeld and de Landa (amongst others), and those visionary aspects of architectural practice (such as the Crystal Chain, Futurism, Bruce Goff, the various movements of the sixties and seventies and so forth) in which technological structures were brought into question. This has led me to conceptual design solutions for robotics that explore and exploit the categorical nature of how we approach the artifacts we design.

Alternative robotic technologies under investigation, such as massively parallel microrobotic lattices, hold the promise of a reconceptualization of the robotic as a material process, and thereby suggest the potential for interaction systems based on systems embodying this approach - systems in which the properties of such robotic materials might be malleable, shiftable, even seemingly unnatural. Such robotic materials would be inherently haptic, tangible and spatially transformative, raising a range of opportunities and issues for interaction designers, foregrounding recent key theoretical areas of concern such as embodiment and process.

This presentation will firstly outline the current state of play in engineering massively parallel microrobotics, then explore how my definition of a new conceptual space for technological pr the engagement of the different yet intertwined disciplines of philosophy and architecture. This will serve as a point of departure for a broader discussion of the nature of technology stewardship - what I term the arche-techne, or the defining-principles-leading-bringing-into-being of the technical-conceptual.

Download PDF presentation

ADAM PARKER escaped from Law and Philosophy at Monash University with an Arts degree in 1994, to the relative tedium of the commercial world of interaction design. Here he spent seven years designing user interaction for clients such as Telstra, CUB, L J Hooker and Lend Lease. After a brief spell as a hospital porter, where he learnt more about life and death than in the previous thirty, he returned refocused to interaction design as an academic in 2002, where he lectures in the Communication Design and Industrial Design programmes at RMIT University. His love/hate dissatisfaction with haptics, augmented reality and interaction design in general led him to consider robotic interaction systems, which he found to be in an even worse state of incompletion. His exposure to architectural academics and students reinvigorated his understanding of the links between philosophy and design of complex systems. His PhD, being undertaken at SIAL RMIT, aims to bring some conceptual, disruptive yet technically grounded design thinking to the promising area of robotic interaction research.

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Ant Farm: Groovin' On Time
Thursday, 6:30pm at RMIT 8.11.68

This presentation will focus on Ant Farm’s early psychedelic work, particularly the “enviro-images” and the Truckstop Network project, in order to unpack the group’s understanding of emergent power structures and to trace the manner in which their radical environmental alternatives evolved into an architecture conceived of as closed life-support modules interfacing with open-ended media systems. The psychedelic experience of a spatial expansion of “consciousness” and sense of an interconnected “planetary culture” was widespread among the late-sixties counterculture (including Ant Farm) and it involved a reflection upon new technological potentials that, while apparently euphoric, was haunted by a politics of survival. In addition to this spatial sensation was an equally symptomatic sense of temporal transformation. The psychedelic experience of the “trip” involved an “expanded time phenomenon,” a sense of one’s ability to “dwell exponentially” in time, or to experience not the sequential passing of time but accelerating rates of change. Ant Farm was founded in 1968 on a platform of educational reform that picked up on such psychedelic tropes, a platform intending to bring architecture into an alignment with radically transformed space-time relations and in so doing to offer a “turned-on” counterpart to normative models of the discipline.

FELICITY D SCOTT is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, and a founding co-editor of Grey Room, a quarterly journal of architecture, art, media, and politics published by MIT Press since 2000. Her work as an architectural historian and theorist focuses on articulating genealogies of political and theoretical engagement with questions of technological transformation within modern and contemporary architecture, as well as within the discourses and institutions that have shaped and defined the discipline. Her book Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism, is forthcoming on MIT Press in November, and another book Allegorical Time Warp: The Media Fallout of July 21, 1969, will be published by ACTAR in association with Ant Farm Timeline as Living Archive 7: Ant Farm.

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Scott McQuire

Thursday, September 13
6:00pm at the BMW Edge, Federation Square

What happens when the TV screen leaves home and moves out into the street? Public space in the 21st century is increasingly shaped by interactions between media platforms and architectural structures. The result is the formation of media-architecture complexes which are fast coalescing into 'media cities'. The social implications of the new public spaces created at the intersection of media networks and material structures are ambivalent. In a context where fear of strangers is frequently promoted as a strategy of political control, new media forms such as large public screens can play a critical role in promoting collective interactions in public space. However, realizing the ideal of cosmopolitan public culture demands strategic displacement of the flexible forms of power deployed in the public spaces of contemporary cities.

SCOTT MCQUIRE is an academic and writer with a strong interest in interdisciplinary research linking social theory, new media, art, and urbanism. He is currently a chief investigator on the ARC funded research project 'Large Screens and the transformation of public space', and is one of the convenors of the major conference Urban Screens Melbourne: Mobile Publics to be held at Federation Square in October 2008. Scott is the author of Crossing the Digital Threshold (1997), Visions of Modernity (1998), and Maximum Vision (1999), co-author with Peter Lyssiotis of the limited edition artists' book The Look of Love (1998), and co-editor with Nikos Papastergiadis of Empires, Ruins + Networks: The Transcultural Agenda in Art (2005). Scott teaches in the Media and Communications Program at the University of Melbourne and his new book The Media City will be published by Sage as part of the Theory, Culture and Society series in February 2008.

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Sufern Hoe
October 11 from 6:30pm in RMIT 8.11.68

In today’s era of intense global competition, creative industries have assumed an increased importance to firms and cities for capitalist success. In order to achieve economic success and international competitiveness, Singapore has also jumped on the creative industries bandwagon. Singapore’s recent endeavours to develop a vibrant creative economy have led to a strategic mobilisation of design as a means to (re)shape and market the local urban landscape, a key apparatus to stimulate and govern entrepreneurship, and a vehicle for exhibiting local creativity.

This paper will use Singapore as a case study to trace and interrogate the imprints of the global ‘travel’ of the creative industries on the local. This paper will look at some of the local policies, designers and products to critically consider the extent, nature and implications of the development of design as a key creative industry in Singapore. In particular, this paper will highlight and problematise the strategic use of “design-as-customisation” to create spaces and commodities that will have global mass appeal. Rather than dismissing this strategy as frivolous and banal, this paper will suggest that it offers valuable insights into the role of design in urban cultural economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

SUFERN HOE is a doctoral candidate in The School of Culture and Communication at The University of Melbourne. Her research is on design and urban cultural economies in the Asia-Pacific region, namely Singapore, Taipei and Melbourne.

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Teresa Stoppani, Greenwich University, London
October 25 from 6:30pm in RMIT 8.11.68

The emergence of the use of the Grid in the redefinition of pictorial space in the early 20th century marks the separation of the visual arts from narrative and discursive structures, and establishes a purely relational order that proclaims the autonomy and self-referentiality of space in art. This use of the Grid in art, beyond the figurative and the descriptive, proposes it not as a form or as a device for representation, but as an agent of the making of space. An analysis of this shift in the reading of the Grid (R. Krauss) offers possible insights for a reconsideration of the use of the Grid in the definition of architectural, urban and territorial systems.

This lecture concentrates on the complications of the operations of the Grid – the ‘Grid Effect’ –- when it is employed as an organising system in architecture and the urban space. Unlike the modern pictorial grid, the ‘grid effect’ does not produce a separation from the world, but, inseparable from its implementation, it produces a dynamic and evolving space rather than a bi- or three- dimensional form. The ‘grid effect’ is explored in a series of cases that range from the empirically structured tool of territorial domination of the Roman limitatio, to the grid of the Modern tabula rasa which never found implementation without rupture; from the geometrically relentless but socially liberating grids of the architectural utopias of the 1960s, to the 1970s grids used to intersect architecture’s self-referential language with forms and narratives of the city and the territory; from the grid torn open but enclosed in isolated fragments in the ladders (A. Pope) of the contemporary city, to the warped surface-space of the soft grid of Zaha Hadid’s recent large-scale projects.

TERESA STOPPANI (DrArch IUAV Venice, DrRic Univ. Florence) has taught architectural design and theory at the IUAV (1995-1999) and at the Architectural Association in London (2000-02). She is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Greenwich since 2001, where she directs the MA in Architecture programme and co-ordinates the Architecture Histories and Theories programme. Her recent publications include: ‘Mapping. The Locus of the Project’ (Angelaki, 9:2, 2004), ‘Dusty Stories of Woman. Notes for a Re-definition of Dust’ (The Issues, 1:1, 2005), ‘The Reversible City: Exhibition(ism), Chorality and Tenderness in Manhattan and Venice’ (in C. Lindner ed., Urban Space and Cityscapes, 2006). Works in progress: book Manhattan and Venice: Paradigm Islands of Anti-Modern Space, design research Europe Studio Constructing Europe by the Public; research 'Architecture Dust'.

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Peta Carlin

Thursday, 8 November
6:00pm at the BMW Edge, Federation Square

PETA CARLIN is currently undertaking a PhD at the School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, which explores the relationship between architecture and textile design through the medium of photography. With a background in architecture and fine art imaging, her most recent project, ‘Urban Fabric’ was exhibited at West Space gallery in March 2007.

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A/Prof Katja Grillner, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

Thursday, 6 December
6:00pm in RMIT 8.11.68

The western idea of landscape design as a distinct artistic practice emerges in Europe in the 18th century. The landscape designer is characterised at the time as a sensitive ‘lover’ of nature. A figure that, for the purposes of enhancing the beauty of the grounds –- his ‘mistress’ –- performs a series of actions, taking place over time in a dynamic process of interpretation. These may be described as interchanging reading and writing the site. In contrast to the architect, the landscape designer does not invent, but rewrites. This lecture presents the significant tropes that secured the historical features of this designer figure and further shows its firm inscription in a gendered power game that casts a troubling shadow over the softly spoken, sensitive gardener. Do traces of these features still remain in today’s landscape discourse, and in its perceived relation to architecture? And what are in that case the implications for contemporary design practice?

KATJA GRILLNER (M.Arch, PhD) is an architect and critic based in Stockholm, Sweden. Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, she is the director of research and PhD-studies, and the director of AKAD. She is a member of the board of the Swedish Architecture Museum. Her research on architecture and landscape combines theoretical, historical and literary strategies of investigation. Among her book publications are her PhD-dissertation Ramble, linger and gaze – philosophical dialogues in the landscape garden (Stockholm: KTH 2000), as main-editor 01-AKAD – Experimental Research in Architecture and Design (Stockholm: AxlBooks, 2005), and, as co-editor, Architecture and Authorship (London: Black
Dog, 2007).

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2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011/ 2010 / 2009 / 2008 / 2007 / 2006 / 2005 / CURATORS


PAST YEARS' PROGRAMS 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011/ 2010 / 2009 / 2008 / 2007 / 2006 / 2005 / CURATORS

Architecture + Philosophy series provides a unique opportunity for a space of exchange between the two disciplines. While what we provide is a local space – Melbourne practitioners on Melbourne issues – Architecture + Philosophy welcomes speakers from any discipline to engage with questions of contemporary urbanism, planning, technology, space, system, design, distribution and other issues in the productive overlap between the two disciplines. We curate a diverse range of presentations, from research students and established academics to architecture and planning practitioners, policy makers, public artists and those working in the world between theory, buildings and the city.

The program is curated by Esther Anatolitis and Hélène Frichot and presented by RMIT Architecture and Design and Federation Square.



Summer 2005 Past MSCP Sessions