Just noting Adapturbia, a project exploring new architectural typologies within the constraint of the single lot suburban subdivision. The project is led by Adam Russell, a registered, practising architect and Principal of DRAW in Sydney with co-director John de Manincor. Russell is running a Masters of architecture design studio at the UTS School of Architecture in 2011 titled Adapturbia. The studio explores the problem of the suburbs and the pressure to densify and intensify, while the solution is seen as the reintroduction of “the architect as a catalytic thinker in the long neglected suburb”. The relevance of the architect “in anticipating, understanding, manipulating, subverting and transforming existing and future conditions in the suburbs” is part of the inquiry. This is a project for further exploration as part of Changescaping.
The problem is not suburbs per se, but rather the cultural, political and economic conditions and thinking that brought about their ‘pandemic roll-out’ and persistence as a cultural form, identified by Russell as “a combination of cheap land, abundant fossil fuel and an opportunistic housing industry”. Part of the broader conversation about suburbs seems to focus on blaming suburbs for the fact of their existance – suburbs do not reproduce themselves or their cultural condition in isolation. Quite often in this mix we tend to overlook the hand of government, as policy and decision maker, working in tandem with capital and the professions to realise results that do not have long term efficacy. We also overlook the need to understand change. I’ve just been looking at the SEQ transect and for the life of me I can’t understand by low density development is even part of a smart growth framework, other than perhaps it’s too hard to shift at this juncture. Russell’s project may well form a useful intervention here. The inquiry identifies the singular element that practitioners can work with or interrogat, as the single suburban block, to superimpose “new market structures, reprogrammable and adaptive form and the localization of urban life will allow us to anticipate alternate architectures for suburbia”.