Studio Talk – Martyn Hook

Dean of the School of Media and Communication Martyn Hook spent a class giving us a professional look at places and space, which was really interesting. He covered quite a lot of ideas over the class, but began with talking about how he defines the difference between Space and Place. He explained that Space has dimension, material, and a kind of authorial intent from the architect or designer. Space is the physical area that is designed for a particular purpose with material limitations in mind. He explained that Place is the ‘activation’ of a Space; the inhabitation of a Space and it’s intent being realised by the inhabitants, and therefore both Space and Place work with one another and are not mutually exclusive.
On a tangent he explained a set of people who call themselves ‘Placemakers’ who approach city councils in an attempt to create Places, but not necessarily create the Spaces required. He also talked briefly about the history of settlers in Australia and their encounters with the native people when establishing colonies or cities, and how Aboriginal people see themselves as a part of the land and so don’t separate themselves from the material Spaces we conceive.
He then focused on the idea of the City. He suggests that any City cannot truly be finished, and this is one of it’s defining characteristics. He explained that Cities are constantly growing and so don’t have concrete boundaries as such. He also explained that the idea of the City is relatively new, and that a lot of modern Cities are not designed with a single central district in mind. In regards to Australia he pointed out that 94% of the Australian population is urbanised, that is, the majority of the population lives in urbanised areas rather than rural areas, compared to countries such as China where only around 60% of the population inhabit Urbanised areas.
One of his later points in regards to Melbourne specifically was that of Federation Square, an open, public space that has often been used as a Space for public speaking and protest. He explained that this kind of design is one that is Democratic, and that even RMIT, as a campus that is open to the public, is likewise a very democratic and fluid one that echoes Melbourne’s layout.

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