James Hargrave



Architecture & Housing




Sydney along with many other cities around the world is facing a common thread of challenges relating to a disconnect between housing, social life, and work. These three programs have become compartmentalised in our growing cities and the distance between them has become exhausting. In investigating this phenomenon in Australian (Sydney most specifically) I have been trying to understand what aspects of our man made landscape have contributed to this disconnect.

I am interested in exploring human instinct and how it has shaped the housing we live in today. How have we defined boundaries and used man made limits on a micro scale? How have these man made boundaries and limits ultimately altered our social and environmental potential on the macro scale? Can these boundaries and limits be broken down, extrapolated, and reinterpreted to meet the modern day requirements of our cities. In re-imagining the boundary and limit what potential does it have in reconnecting our compartmentalised city?

Housing can promote and sustain healthy social environments. What I have come to understand is that a dwelling’s potential far exceeds the space within. Blurring the preconceived notions of public and private has allowed me to explore and experiment with a different space - the space between.  This space does much more that merely define ownership, it has the potential to facilitate activity, encourage habitation, and bridge that gap between social isolation.

In exploring the potential of the space between on the micro scale, the same philosophical approach to the housing has been overlaid at the master planning scale. The disconnect between White bay, the wharf, and Balmain fundamentally comes down to the restrictions imposed by physical boundaries. Extending the existing topography to where it once was, feathering the water’s edge with terracing and pools, moving car traffic underground, and integrating housing and circulation into the landscape all blur the boundaries that were once imposed.

If this philosophy of addressing the space between was approached from a city scale - life of the future may be very different.