It’s been a few days since SuperStudio, and would have wrote this earlier except an assignment got in the way. I’m also inn the process of writing up the national report and then will follow up with a report to Deakin. However, taking a break to share with you my experience of SuperStudio, which would have been a bit different to most given I ended up being the coordinator for the event! It was a big task, but thankful for the experience and more thankful for all the help I got!
The role of coordinator was somewhat thrusted upon me after Monash University could no longer host the event due to a clash with their Open Day event, and Deakin was given the opportunity. I approached the school to seek their approval to which they got on board right away, and easy to see why.
For those who don’t know, SuperStudio is an annual 24 hour design competition, a brief is confidential (only open to a few around Australia) and released at 7:00pm AEST on the Friday and the students have until 7:00pm AEST on Saturday to address this brief. Finalists are chosen from each state (4 from Victoria), who then have 10 days to refine and finalise their design for national judging, with the overall winner, winning returned flights to the Venice Biennale! Major prize up for grabs there!
The weeks leading up to SuperStudio consisted of conference phone calls, emails to the school, Facebook discussions within our little team and emails with potential tutors and jurors. Two of the other SONA reps even made the trip out to Geelong one day to check out our studio space and to have a face-to-face meeting. The major items that needed ticking off were tutors, jurors, catering, transport and prizes, with some causing more grief than others. It was strange, in the last few days leading up everything seemed to had fall into place, which was a relief.
The afternoon (then into the evening) of SuperStudio was eventful, putting it mildly. Something we knew about, but still weren’t sure how to handle it, was there was a class in the studio until 6pm. This prevented us to set-up the space as we weren’t able to disturb the class which had priority of the space, so we had to work around them. As studio groups started leaving we’d move in and rearrange the space! Students started arriving at 5-5:30 to register for the event, the studio still needing arranging and forgetting soft drink for the dinner, I was thankful I had a friend with me to help out. It was only myself and my friend at this point, as the other SONA reps were in Melbourne, gathering last minute supplies. I was feeling the pressure at this point as students kept coming, the BONDOR guest arrived, our Head of School arrived and then the pizza turned up.
We got through the mad rush, then I realised it was 6:45pm and majority of our entrants were still on their way on the bus, but we couldn’t wait as the brief was to be released at 7pm. The BONDOR representative gave a brief talk about their products, and then our Head of School was tasked with reading the brief to the dozen or so students there already. As he finished and was on the way out, the bus-load of students turned up, along with the other reps and tutors. Now we had dozens of students who needed registering, feeding, to read the brief and receive information such as wi-fi and maps of the school. All us reps were in full-steam mode, and we eventually got everyone registered and fed.
Once the dust settled, students found a spot, creating small nests and started to work on the competition. We used this time to create “survival packs” to hand out to teams and to organise registrations. As the night went on, some teams headed back to Melbourne, some created makeshift beds, some elected to sleep on at the desk and only a couple teams decided not to sleep. I did my best to stay up as much as possible in the event a student had a question or needed help, although deciding I should get some shut-eye. I felt so bad for the students who were either awake or trying to sleep, as the heaters in the studio weren’t on, given they are on some sort of system. Despite being told they would remain on, the studio at 3am became so cold it was difficult to sleep, and we couldn’t manually turn them on.
The sun rose, students started to emerge, seeking coffee and food. Directing them down to the Waterfront Kitchen, the Saturday morning shift of tutors (consisting mainly of Deakin lecturers/tutors) turned up, keen to see what students were up to. Lunch was served, filling the stomach of many hungry students. At this point things were easy-going for us, the other reps explored a bit of Geelong while I spoke to tutors and students, and even discovered how to manually turn on the heaters (would have been great the night before!).
It wasn’t long until there were only a few hours left and the mad rush started up again with students wishing to print and scan, and submit their design. It was all hands-on-deck, as our jurors and guest, Peter Malatt (President of the Victorian Chapter of the AIA and director of Six Degrees Architecture) started to arrive. 7pm came and everyone had submitted, so there was only one thing to do at this point in time. I congratulated everyone for getting to this point in the competition, as that was an accomplishment on its own.
Dinner was served, with presentations set to begin at 7:30pm, giving students half-an-hour to relax, have some food and go over their presentation. We got everyone settled down, and I gave a quick opening message to everyone, followed by Tim Randall introducing our jurors. Each team had 3 minutes to present [due to time constraints] with the jurors giving quick feedback.
Presentations went of without a hitch, we did need to cut a couple off as they were starting to go REALLY over time but all-in-all they went well. Some people had videos, a couple even had physical models. After presentations were finished, we gave the jurors some time to deliberate. You could feel a sense of relief in the group of students, knowing that they have finished. We got each team to jump in front of our poster wall to get photos taken while we waited. The jurors emerged from behind a black curtain [literally], so it was time to gather everyone around to announce the winners.
Peter Malatt gave a quick talk about SuperStudio, congratulated all the students and was tasked with announcing the winners. We had four places to announce, with each one entering the next stage of the competition and we also included a ‘Best First Year Team’. However they jurors threw us a curve ball and gave a commendation award to a group, which goes to show how difficult it was for the jurors. 4th to 1st place were announced, and I closed out the formality, thanking everyone involved, which I’m fairly certain I forgot people!
After the crowds dispersed to head home for much needed sleep, it was just the reps and myself to tidy up the studio to a degree. While picking up trash we reflected on the last 32 hours and concluded this was a successful event, despite concerns with it being in Geelong. It was nearing in on midnight, so we called it a night, with the other reps heading back to Melbourne, and I made my way home to sleep for somewhat 15 hours. Sunday night I returned back to the studio to further tidy up, put tables and chairs back, and to get the space back in order.
I was going to write a closing thank you paragraph but not wanting to miss names I’ll keep it brief. A huge congratulations to every student who entered, not just the winners but everyone. To have only 24 hours to design something, and to represent it at the level everyone did is an amazing achievement. Thank you to Deakin and our school of architecture for all the effort and assisting in organising catering, security, way-finding etc. A big thanks to all our tutors, giving up your free time to come to Geelong and tutor everyone is greatly appreciated! Thank you to our jurors and guests for giving up their Saturday night. Thank you to all the sponsors, and to SONA and Australian Institute of Architects. And lastly, thank you to our little SuperStudio team including the other SONA reps and their helpers. There would have been no way I could have organised this all on my own, and it takes a great team to achieve this, so without you there would not have been a SuperStudio.
Be sure to check out our Facebook albums which gives you an insight to the event, with photography by Daniel Lawson. If you are savvy with the social media, check out the hashtags of #SuperStudio, #SuperStudio2014 and #SuperStudioVIC2014 on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see the event through different eyes.
Perhaps next year I’ll see what SuperStudio is like from the participants point of view…..