Timothy Smith



Architecture & Social Agency




How can we as designers of the built environment stand in solidarity with the disadvantaged and disenfranchised?

Tonight in Sydney over 400 people will sleep rough in makeshift shelters, park benches and on the streets. How can we as designers of the built environment stand in solidarity with these people and other alternative urban practices such as street art and skateboarding to give all within the community the tools to resist capitalist forces of control and create a social city, while staying true to Lefebvre’s idea of the “right to the city. Investigation into these marginalised practices and ways of life lead to the formation of 5 concepts of healthy urban living that urban dwellers could focus on to improve their lives and their city. ANIMAL, WASH, EAT, TRAUMA and SHELTER were translated into spaces and ideas that could disseminate throughout the city.

At the city scale the project utilises the 4 stages of place making in campsite architecture of SITING, CLEARING, MAKING and BREAKING. Siting champions path making as urban narratives and any path to and through the city is welcomed with equal precedence. Clearing sections of the site to create a fragmented site that welcomes anarchy and serendipity make their way through the site of buildings old and new. The new spaces which reflect the 5 concepts of healthy urban living and made through communal process which is never complete. By turning the church hall into a makerspace with CNC and other tools users can make/remake the spaces on site to suit their changing needs. Breaking returns the site to movement and allows the churches outreach to move throughout the city with temporal place specific installations created in the church hall transported by bicycle.

These concepts where translated into the tectonics and materiality of the new spaces on site. Constructed mainly of lightweight timber construction with tensile fabric roofs the new spaces sit somewhere between temporary and permanent structures. Simple detailing and finishes allows the users to make the spaces themselves with little outside help. Utilising the make facilities on site the spaces can be made/remade to suit changing uses. The spaces can also be fully dismantled and leave no trace on site. All the while the ideas of healthy urban living are present in these new spaces with food production and preparation ever present in EAT, water collection and use in WASH and so on for the other new spaces.