It was strange, or maybe not, on one hand I didn’t want to present at interim because I didn’t have the required drawings/model or even a well refined single plan. However, at the same time I did as I really needed feedback and some kind of direction otherwise I would still be stressing about not having a concept. So, what did my tutor have to say about it?

I explained my design and the concept behind it, the contrasts and the social element of student housing. After which he noted down I had no model and no section, but being good at his job he worked with what he had. He liked the courtyard concept, bring the activity to the inside of the site as opposed to going outside. He got me to draw a diagram of my concept, which is on the top-right, he then said it was wrong and had too many lines for a diagram. He then drew his diagram, middle-left, noting the positive and negative spaces.

In 101 Things I Learnt in Architecture School, one of the rules were ‘if it’s heavy, make it heavy’ or ‘if it’s light, make it light’, something like that. My tutor then basically said, “if it’s a courtyard, make it a courtyard”. Make the courtyard as big as possible, and making the rooms as short as possible, depth wise, to ensure the size. He then talked about keeping the new structure to only two storeys if possible, or if you need to go three, make it look like two. By doing this this ensured the main structures aren’t lost.

He questioned my ‘bridge’ on each level, which would separate and connect the two existing structures in a weird way. Which I agree with, a classmate had the two connect via a bridge at one level, towards the middle, which looked good.

Noticing my own questioning with the box he talked about the potential there, and related to our studio here at Deakin. He mentioned this studio could be one large incubator (which we need to design for), and how if you gut the floors and such and have one level with a huge void, or maybe another mezzanine level, that could be an amazing space.

We didn’t speak much about the silos, or the ground floor but he did ask about my forecourts and why, with me mentioning the ground floor cafes or such can use them for outdoor dining.

That was about it, my peers didn’t really say much but that’s pretty normal for student-to-student review. All-in-all, for what I had, the review wasn’t bad. He liked my courtyard concept, which was a bit different to everyone else, and I now feel confident about it. The other tutor for the project (two tutors for each brief) had a quick look at the end of the day and he also thought the courtyard concept was interesting.

One thing I didn’t feel good about was, each student/project was meant to receive 3 feedback sheets from students, I had three pinned up with mine however they were blank when I went to leave at the end of the day. So it felt a bit sucky that no one wanted to leave any feedback, but could also be I didn’t give enough for them to make any proper judgement.

So, where do I go from here? What is my current thinking? Well, going to head back to the trace for just a quick sketch-fest to get an idea on sizing and brief layout. I want to work the courtyard concept and follow my tutor’s advice and make it as big as possible (without it being big for the sake of being big). I want to fit in more than the required 50 students, and want to explore level changes and maybe even toy with 3-4 storeys. How do I mix in the communal spaces? What happens on the ground floor? Who has access to the courtyard? What happens in the silos? How does it address the two sides of Mercer St and the railway tracks? All these questions I will need to answer but this is where my scheme will really take off. I need to think about the details, and also remember I have the rest of the site to work with as well.

For the first time I am excited on where this is heading, so stay tuned because things are about to get interesting.