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A different kind of Docklands

29 Oct 2015

A different kind of Docklands Image

As we await Harbour Esplanade’s redevelopment, a group of students from RMIT have imagined alternative futures for the public space.

From a footstep-activated light and sound show to a giant rollercoaster across Docklands, the Art in Public Space masters students have come up with a range of concepts to transform the way people experience the precinct.

According to RMIT lecturer Clare McCracken, the aim of the project was to explore ways of activating unused spaces in a way that stretched the imagination and creative boundaries.

Supported by Urbis and Pop Up Melbourne, students came up with a range of ideas to activate Harbour Esplanade.

“The concepts didn’t necessarily have to be buildable, with the idea being that students unleashed their creativity,” Ms McCracken said.

Students each formulated a public art “proposition”, as opposed to a public art proposal, which gave them the freedom to imagine things that haven’t been done or might not yet be possible.

They researched the design, construction and formation of Docklands and analysed the way the public experienced the area’s public spaces, focusing on Harbour Esplanade, before creating their own site-specific propositions.

Student Jie Shu’s proposition Evolution suggests the development of three robotic creatures, part-marine, part science-fiction that embody the impact of contaminated water on animals.

They would be designed to crawl out of the water onto the harbour-side paths of Docklands before resubmerging themselves.

“Their alarming form and sudden arrival and departure would be a constant reminder of the importance of water to life and the need to protect it from rubbish, chemicals and heavy metals,” the proposition said.

“Could the creatures of Evolution become the Loch Ness monsters of the Docklands – a tourist attraction in their own right?”

In contrast Molly Braddon’s proposition Connecting to Disconnect > Disconnecting to Connect suggests an interactive installation embedded in the pavement along Harbour Esplanade.

According to the proposition, every time a foot falls on one section of the work, another section would light up, flash, elevate and make a sound, making simple trips a game of patterns and interactions with other pedestrians.

Other concepts included a performance work focusing on the act of cleaning, a publicly accessible artwork inspired by a water drop and the re-flooding of Harbour Esplanade and planting of a Apple Box Gum, bringing back some of the original terrain to Docklands.

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