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Defiant and spirited: The Architecture Symposium, Brisbane

Image: Ray Cash

After a summer filled with the savage imagery, heat and scent of bushfire, The Architecture Symposium, Brisbane, held on 13 March 2020, offered the lure of a day of intellectual and emotional succour: eight speakers reflecting on the theme of water, refracting their architectural output through its unifying, yet mutable, lens.

Realrich Sjarief of RAW Architecture commenced the symposium by presenting a series of projects from his home city of Jakarta, a pressured delta city subject to the pernicious effects of water through periodic inundation. RAW responds to this urban precariousness with a dexterous and mystical pragmatism – drawing deeply on the lessons of unity and harmony with place from Javanese culture and uniting this with an experimental attitude to basic, readily available construction materials.

Voraakhom’s landscape works are a reflexive response to the city’s inescapable landscape condition. She chooses to operate on the elevated planes of urban roofscapes and uses architecture to generate Bangkok’s absent topography. At Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park, Landprocess worked with architectural practice N7A to incline a parkland space sculpted by architecture, which collects, slowly releases and treats water. The artificial topography channels floodwater into underground tanks with a staggering capacity of 3.8 million litres. Overflow is released and percolates through a series of treatment ponds that make engaging recreation spaces – herb gardens, meditation areas, reading spaces and wetlands. Distinguishing itself from the cosmetic roof-garden spaces that proliferate in every so-called “global city,” this project is anchored in the city’s authentic ground plane. It unfurls from the park along two major axial urban boulevards, where traffic was reduced, pedestrian zones increased, and linear rain gardens formed that invite the wider urban quarter into this sumptuous, green sanctuary.


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