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Women Design Action

July 25 – August 11 2018
RMIT Design Hub

WORKAROUND engages with a movement of women focused on advocacy and activism within an expanded field of architecture. Each of these practitioners works towards positive change in the built environment and its surrounding cultures. Motivated by the increasing urgency of the challenges we all now face — environmental, social and professional — these women work around existing conventions, systems and structures.

Such practitioners share some common characteristics. They demonstrate agency, strategic opportunism and values- based leadership. Also, they can be defined by what they are not — they are not conventional practitioners, and they are (generally) not producing objects or working within the traditional structure of the design office. These practitioners are agile and each has developed workarounds to critically negotiate and rethink systemic limitations; circumventing entrenched professional hierarchies; managing working life and family demands, and extending the bounds of architecture and design.

Within the diverse practices of these women, gender and feminist politics play varying roles: sometimes a direct and explicit driver, sometimes an implicit and understated context.

WORKAROUND is an online broadcast and a program of live events. Across fourteen daily episodes, fourteen Australian practitioners each present a critique, conversation, interview, workshop or performance that articulates their strategies and workarounds and reflects on their activist practice. In addition, the curators will present a fifteenth episode exploring design activism. Each of the episodes can be watched in real time as it occurs from the set at RMIT Design Hub, or viewed online via the Design Hub website.

For WORKAROUND, our curatorial intention is clear — it is to identify, assemble, create a platform for, and find new connections between a burgeoning movement of women focused on advocacy and activism within an expanded field of architecture. These fourteen broadcast episodes bring to light ways of working within, without and beside architecture as it has previously been conceived. WORKAROUND is our opportunity to learn how this extraordinary group of women articulate their particular workarounds — both personal and professional — that are necessary to effect change.



Kate Rhodes and Fleur Watson (RMIT University), Naomi Stead (Monash University).


Simona Castricum; Esther Charlesworth; Pippa Dickson; Pia Ednie-Brown; Harriet Edquist; Mary Featherston; Guest, Riggs (Stephanie Guest and Kate Riggs); Amy Learmonth; Helen Norrie; OoPLA (Tania Davidge and Christine Phillips); Parlour; Sam Spurr; SueAnne Ware; and XYX Lab, Monash University (led by Director Dr Nicole Kalms and the combined strengths of core members — Dr Gene Bawden, Dr Pamela Salen, Allison Edwards, Hannah Korsmeyer, and Zoe Condliffe).


Sibling Architecture


Studio Round

Design Hub team

Kate Rhodes

Nella Themelios
Curator/Creative Producer

Erik North
Creative Producer/Technical Production Coordinator

Timothy McLeod
Technical Production Coordinator/
Technical Production Assistant

Layla Cluer
Operations Assistant

Michaela Bear
Curatorial Assistant

Robert Jordan
Audio Visual Designer

Simon Maisch
Sound System Designer

Ari Sharp
Audio Visual and
Installation Technician

Bryce Maher
Audio Visual Technician

Gavin Bell
Installation Technician

Jessica Wood
Installation Technician


Ian Bunyi, Luke Garrett, Siofra Lyons, Luke Pingipas.


Leanne Choi, Ana Davila Veytia, Majed Fayad, Chloe Gleeson, Isabel McCrann, Lisa Miyagi, Audrey Ng, Linlu Pan, Xanthea Riordan, Tammy Rowe, Gerard Snowdon, Felix Taylor, Jiarui Tian (Ophelia), Jobelle Villanueva, Xiaoxiao Wang.

RMIT Design Hub

RMIT Design Hub is a progressive educational environment. It houses a community of architects, designers, curators and students for collaborative, inter-disciplinary design research and education within a purpose-built, 10-storey building that also includes RMIT University’s School of Architecture & Design and the RMIT Design Archives.

The Project Rooms at Design Hub exhibit creative, practice-led research and are open to everyone. Exhibitions at Design Hub visualise, perform and share research ideas and make new research connections.


Corner Victoria St and Swanston St Carlton, 3053

Opening hours

Tuesday–Friday, 10AM–5PM
Saturday, 12PM–5PM

Closed Sunday, Monday
and Public Holidays.

Please note that WORKAROUND will be open on Sunday 29 July as part of Open House Melbourne and will be open to prospective students as part of RMIT’s Open Day on Sunday 12 August.

[Admission is free]


RMIT University has made every effort to trace copyright holders and provide correct crediting and acknowledgments in consultation with the providers of the exhibition.


Wednesday, 25 July
1PM – 3:30PM

‘Feral Architectures’

“My style can’t be duplicated or recycled, This chick is a sick individual, It don’t matter where you from it’s where you at, and if you came to freak–a–leak you better bring your hat.” ‘We Run This’, The Cookbook [2005], Missy Elliot.


SueAnne Ware is Professor of Landscape Architecture and the Head of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She is a co-founder of out(fit), an all-female collective of design practitioners and a self-confessed design activist. She believes that landscape architects share a responsibility for exploring political, social and environmental agendas in public spaces.

SueAnne’s projects reflect her commitment to society’s marginalised communities and an exploration of issues such as drug addiction, ‘illegal’ refugee policies and domestic violence. She creates spaces that generate friction, where protests are permitted and possible, where attention is drawn to some of society’s most pervasive issues, and passers-by may discover insight into what SueAnne hopes is a more humanitarian and compassionate approach. Her design projects have won national and international awards; including The SIEV X memorial, the Road as Shrine, and the Anti-Memorial to Heroin Overdose Victims.


In Feral Architectures SueAnne Ware explores physical catalysts for social and political change or, more simply, design activism. She aims to incite action by using counter-narratives to an unsustainable status quo. This episode adopts a Q&A style format where the panel, the audience and the host will discuss design activism. SueAnne reflects upon her 20-some-years of practice through a set of critical lenses and discursive questions centring on: contesting the public realm, conflating intersectionality, provoking social engagement and embracing radical hope. In the spirit of its title, this session hopes to embody notions of feral; resulting in a wild, unrestrained or uncultivated state.

with Paola Balla, Grace McQuilten, Andrea Nield, Katrina Simon and Naomi Stead



Thursday, 26 July
1PM – 3:30PM

‘Regional Round Up: Bright ideas from beyond the big cities’

It takes a village
to make a city.


The Regional Urban Studies Laboratory (RUSL — pronounced ‘rustle’) is a collaborative urban design research project that engages directly with local councils and communities to examine urban spatial, temporal and social issues in small towns and cities. Both analytical and speculative projects investigate social, cultural and development issues for regional areas, working with a broad range of council departments, including City Infrastructure, City Planning, Parks and Amenity, and Community Development to investigate key issues that affect regional settlements. RUSL was founded by Dr Helen Norrie from the School of Technology Environments & Design at the University of Tasmania and draws on expertise from architecture, design, planning, economic development, arts and culture.


Regional towns and cities have historically been the backbone of Australia, yet they currently represent a blindspot in urban thinking. While policy development focuses on the continual growth of the five cities with more than a million people (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide), beyond the major metropolitan centres different issues are at stake. Many regional towns and cities are experiencing rapid change due to inward migration, economic shifts and increasing growth pressures, while others struggle with challenges presented by low population and geographical dislocation. Around Australia, many regional communities are developing new ways of working together to create connections between places and people, creating innovative ways of fostering positive change. This episode draws together case studies from across Australia, focussing on innovative projects lead by women — mayors, architects, urban designers and design champions — that highlight the role regional cities can play in Australia’s future development.


with Lindy Atkin, Kirsten Bauer, Laura Martires, Mirian McGarry, Emily Taylor and Emily Wombwell



Friday, 27 July
10AM – 6:15PM


How does architecture uphold structural violence through transphobia and cisnormativity? Shitting in a public toilet is neither a political statement nor a criminal offence. Trans bodies are not a battleground for moral panic. How can architecture hold space for emotion — a place for catharsis? How do feminist frameworks erase non-binary futures? What if safety becomes permanent?


Simona Castricum’s music and architecture research explores the borderline spaces between euphoria, desolation and aggression — tied together by narratives of gender nonconformity and queer cities. Simona is a PhD candidate in architecture at the University of Melbourne, a DJ/broadcaster on Melbourne community radio station PBS and has written and produced six albums over a 20-year career in music. She has published in The Guardian, Vice, i-D, Archer and The Lifted Brow. Her essays feature in Routledge’s Architecture & Culture journal, ARM Architecture’s monograph Mongrel Rapture and in the Women of Letters series.


Simona Castricum tackles how open urban spaces regularly manifest as hostile environments for gender diverse people. Through an exploration of her own experiences of vulnerability, Simona uncovers just how architecture normalises marginalisation through its professional practices and built outcomes. This episode critiques the normative frameworks of gender through which architecture and the city is viewed, created and policed. It asks how architecture can instead become a transformative practice in social justice that positively affects opportunities for those on the margins through safety, inclusion, belonging and pleasure. The episode features live performances and critiques showcasing Simona’s PhD research in architecture at the University of Melbourne and her wider practice in music and performance. The participation of non-binary voices in this episode interrogate the limitations in feminist discourse that focus solely on cisgender exceptionalism as the lens through which to view gender inequality and violence.


Evelyn Ida Morris, best known as Pikelet, is a gifted musician, celebrated for their dexterity across multiple instruments and for songwriting that is complex and structurally adventurous. Evelyn uses they/them pronouns and does not identify as female or male.

Mossy 333 is a multi-disciplinary artist focused on painting, music and performance. Her stage work evokes insight to the subjectivity of her trans feminine experiences regarding body and movement, casting a critical gaze on heteronormative cisgender conditioning.



with Mossy 333

with Evelyn Ida Morris

with Karen Burns and Hannah McCann






Saturday, 28 July
12PM – 5PM


Humans are not the centre of the world and design must become more-than-human. By learning to work-and-play with the active person-power of places and things, we hold the future open to vibrant ecologies of persons.


Pia Ednie-Brown directs Onomatopoeia, a creative research practice concerned with revealing habitual oversights and unacknowledged agency, animating the inanimate and exploring the edges of life. Onomatopoeia stages creative experiments through small architectural projects, workshops, events, installations, objects, film and writing. Pia has been an educator and researcher at RMIT University for over 20 years, and will take up a Professor of Architecture role at the Universityof Newcastle in 2019. Her research has creatively explored and re-theorised ethics, innovation, emergence and new technologies, particularly in terms of creative practice research methodologies. Her creative works and writing have been published widely in international contexts and she has edited two books: Plastic Green: designing for environmental transformation (RMIT Press, 2009) and The Innovation Imperative: Architectures of Vitality (AD, Wiley, 2013).


In this episode Onomatopoeia will work with an ensemble of invited guests to explore and develop a design ethos, The Jane Approach. Drawing on inspirational affinities between Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Jane Bennett, The Jane Approach strives to alleviate the destructive tendencies of anthropocentrism. Each of these Janes draw attention to the idiosyncratic presence and agency of things and non-human animals such as chimpanzees, cities and trash. Along related lines, The Jane Approach aims to magnify the co-creation implicit within all imaginative activity, and to find ways of amplifying the ecological powers of design. Initially explored through the design transformation of Avery Green (a house-person), this WORKAROUND episode builds upon that work through story-telling, music, and drawing/making, playing with the power of personification as a way to engage more intimately with buildings, places and things.

Invited guests/co-creators include: Annie Bolitho, Chris Cottrell, Scott Andrew Elliot, Fiona Harrisson, Jondi Keane, Gina Moore, Francesca Mountfort, Peta Murray, Caitlyn Parry, Mattie Sempert and others.

[Part of Open House

Becoming Janely and setting the scene

Sharing stories about house-persons

Co-creating Jane School

A Janely Wonder-Walk

Party-time, talking-time, next-time...



Sunday, 29 July
12:30PM – 4PM


Provoking public conversations about architecture and the urban realm.


Tania Davidge and Christine Phillips collaborate as OoPLA (formerly OpenHAUS). They are architects, activists, artists, writers and educators. OoPLA’s practice plays out: on the streets and boat ramps of St Kilda; across the pavements of Elwood; under the trees, next to the beach for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale; online for Frankston’s White Street Project; in a paddock in South Australia; in a gallery at the University of Melbourne’s School of Design; at the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre; at Federation Square; in text, across the pages of architectural magazines; in OMA’s MPavilion; on the laneway walls in the city of Melbourne; and in the indoor and outdoor spaces of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

In 2012 OoPLA was exhibited as part of the Australian exhibition Formations: New Practices in Australian Architecture for the Venice Architecture Biennale, and Christine was a participant in one of the five showcased formations as a presenter for the RRR radio show The Architects. OoPLA curated the Advertisements for Architecture exhibitions held at Federation Square in 2009 and the Surry Hills Library in 2010. In 2010 the exhibition was awarded the Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media: State by the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.


Although founded by architects, OoPLA (formerly OpenHAUS) is not a practice about buildings but rather a practice interested in a broader understanding of architecture — it is a practice interested in the culture of architecture rather than the business of architecture. As architects, Christine Phillips and Tania Davidge are interested in the potential that our urban environments hold, and in using this potential to engage people in conversations about their communities and everyday surroundings. This episode opens with a discussion about OoPLA’s urban activist practice and will be followed by a tour of RMIT’s New Academic Street (NAS), in collaboration with Jessica Timmons from Vision Australia. The tour contemplates the ways we navigate the city, explores the sensory qualities of space and attempts to understand the experience of architecture from the perspective of people who are blind or have low vision.

[Part of Open House

Tania Davidge and Christine Phillips in conversation with Kate Rhodes


Sensory City tour of New Academic Street (NAS) at RMIT with Jessica Timmons from Vision Australia



Tuesday, 31 July
10AM – 4PM


[KATE_RIGGS]: I’ve added a few comments into the doc— can pull it all together this evening after work...

[STEPHANIE GUEST]: Ok cool, I’ll have another go once Mabel is asleep tonight. Just finished class.

[KATE_RIGGS]: This time difference sucks. Thinking the manifesto could just be an exchange between us?


Guest, Riggs is Stephanie Guest and Kate Riggs. Stephanie studied literature at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney, and is currently studying architecture at University of Melbourne. Kate studied architecture at RMIT and is currently based in London. The pair met in Year 11 at Narrabundah College in Canberra.

In 2017, Guest, Riggs won The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fiction Lab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction. You can read their piece, ‘An Architecture of Early Motherhood (and Independence),’ in Issue 35 of The Lifted Brow. In 2017/18, they ran a series of events at MPavilion about the architecture of new parenthood, and exhibited as part of National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Design Week in 2018.


A real live working day: messy, interrupted, incomplete. Working around everything, always, including this exhibition. Hasty work: chatty; informal; generous. Work around the exhibition space, around the baby (hope she has a long nap), around our own doubts. Work with new collaborators, old friends, friends of friends. All welcome: independent; with dependents. Exquisite corpse, architecture x literature. A hasty publication; a launch.

Panel discussion on Hasty Work; participatory literature-architecture-dance-food exchange with Jane Hall and Audrey Thomas-Hayes (Assemble), Ellen Davies and Alice Heyward (Future City Inflatable), Julia Busuttil Nishimura (Ostro) and Audrey Shaw (KTA), and other invited guests (below)

friendWORK / netWORK
Edit of findings from the day, debrief, ‘publication’ launch

Julia Collis
Lauren Garner
Sophie Gearon
Jennifer Kulas
Natalie Miles
Caitlyn Parry

Rachel Ang
Jennifer Down
Elena Gomez Alaina Gougoulis
Mim McGarry
Ellena Savage
Anna Thwaites



Wednesday, 1 August
10AM – 4PM


A Pokies Free Future
is Possible...
and beautiful.


Pippa Dickson imagines, creates and directs a range of creative and socially conscious projects. She has been directly working to increase the value of community, arts and culture in Australia for over 15 years. Pippa founded Design Island for Arts Tasmania in 2002 and was the founding CEO of the Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Park (GASP!). She has been responsible for developing and implementing strategic priorities and raising significant investment from all tiers of government and the private sector for public community infrastructure and major international art projects.

Pippa has a PhD in Fine Arts, Furniture Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She has furniture designs held in collections including Design Tasmania, The Henry Jones Art Hotel and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Pippa Co-Chaired the National Craft Initiative (2013–2016) as a Director of the National Association for Visual Artists (NAVA) and is currently Chair of Design Tasmania. Pippa is also a proud co-owner of a Pokies Free pub in Hobart, The Salty Dog Hotel and is the Director of consultancy, Expecting Good Weather.


It’s the post pokie-pub apocalypse. The landscape has been re-shaped and what’s next? In this episode our task is to move the conversation to imagining pubs and clubs in our suburbs and cities without poker machines. How did we get here and what does it look like now? Have venues closed? Have jobs been lost? What has replaced the pokie den? Post Pokies Apocalypse taps into Pippa Dickson’s interest in design, community and cultural development and social justice through physical spaces and governance structures that enable vibrant economies, community cohesion and social activity.


Ka-Ching! Pokie Nation (2015)

Post film conversation with Leanne Minshull (Tasmanian Director, The Australia Institute)

with visionaries from Tasmania and Victoria including Kirsha Kaechele (Artist & Curator, MONA), Berry Liberman (Co-founder, Small Giants), Simon McPherson (Architect & Urbanist, Global South), Cr Susan Rennie (City of Darebin) and Rebecca White MP (Tasmanian Labor Leader, Labor Member for Lyons)

Brainstorming and campaign workshop with Alex Wadelton (Creative Director, Stuff by Alex Wadelton), Meg Webb (Social Action and Research Centre, Anglicare) and Gordon Young (Ethilogical Consulting)



Thursday, 2 August
10AM – 5PM


‘SHEcity’ creates a shared future vision where women and girls are agents in the design of cities.


XYX Lab, Monash University is a team of experienced design researchers exploring gender-sensitive design practices and theory. Their work operates at the intersection of gender, identity, urban space and advocacy. Through both research and practice, the Lab brings together planners, policy makers, local government and stakeholders to make tangible the experiences of underrepresented communities in urban space and planning.

XYX Lab’s SHEcity project is grounded in a feminist approach and activated through real-world projects. Equal parts qualitative and quantitative research, the Lab regularly collects and analyses data and experiences in order to generate deeper understanding and support its design projects. Building equity into urban life requires long-term vision and a strategic — often radical — approach to the design process. XYX do not seek quick-fix design solutions, but rather seek to offer insights and create moments that contribute towards a larger movement for change. The Lab and SHEcity is led by Director Dr Nicole Kalms and the combined strengths of members — Dr Gene Bawden,Dr Pamela Salen, Allison Edwards, Hannah Korsmeyer, and Zoe Condliffe. XYX collaborator Ella Mitchell produced and directed the SHEcity video content.


The walkway is terrifying at all hours of the day, but especially at night. I was accosted here once but I have to use this route most days.

Women and girls WORKAROUND the existing built environment every day. When areas of the city and suburbs feel unsafe, women change their behaviour, self-limit their access to urban life and sometimes don’t go into urban spaces at all. SHEcity is an inclusive episode for everyone. With the support of the Monash University XYX Lab team, participants will think about spaces, places and experiences from the perspective of young women. Using gender-mainstreaming approaches, participants will workaround the inequity faced by women and girls in cities everywhere to re-design city spaces where women and girls ARE the experts.

* In this episode the term ‘women and girls’ is inclusive of cis-women, trans-women and intersex women. The workshop is all genders and for persons aged 15+.

SHEcity stories and recording new stories


Two workshops will respond to four typological ‘hotspots’ in cities where women and girls feel unsafe. Participants will engage in SHEcity co-design to re-imagine these places as safe spaces for women and girls.

[Registration required
each workshop limited
to 32 participants]

A drop-in SHEcity participatory activity (15mins). A place for networking, eating, refuelling, dropping-in. All ages.



Friday, 3 August
12:30PM — 4PM


Children are curious from birth and have a powerful drive to make meaning of their world. They have the right to a school education that responds to their interests and capabilities.


Mary Featherston is an interior designer specialising in the design of physical environments for learning in schools and cultural institutions. The focus of her research and practice is the relationship between contemporary progressive pedagogy and design of the physical environment. In 1965, Mary formed a partnership with Australian designer Grant Featherston (1922–1995). Their collaborative design work resulted in a number of awards and them being inaugural inductees into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame.

In 1967, Mary and Grant commissioned a house and studio by architect Robin Boyd — Featherston House — which she shares with her family today. Her work has been awarded and published nationally and internationally. Mary helped to establish Community Child Care in 1973, Melbourne Children’s Museum in 1985 and the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange in 1995. She is a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne and an emeritus director of the Robin Boyd Foundation.


This episode — led by designer and activist Mary Featherston with teaching staff from Princes Hill Primary School — seeks to convey the essence of the ‘collective inquiry’ educational approach. Working with a filmmaker, students travel to Mary’s atelier and garden where they will undertake a studio-based learning experience. The children are invited to explore Mary’s life-long collection of natural objects — her personal ‘cabinet of curiosities’. On returning to Design Hub, the children discuss and unfold their experiences. Children and adults gather around Design Hub’s purpose-designed ‘round table’ to discuss what this experience has meant to them, what sparked their sense of wonder and curiosity, what they find interesting and what are their passions. They explore how they pursue their own interests and how they can entice others to explore with them. In this way, the episode seeks to reveal how people like to learn

with Esme Capp, Mary Featherston, Hannah Rother-Gelder and Princes Hill Primary School students

Envisaging new paradigms for education with Suzie Attiwill, Esme Capp, Mary Featherston, Hannah Rother-Gelder, Natalie Robinson and Fleur Watson



Saturday, 4 August
10:30AM – 4PM


‘Serious Play’ re-imagines The boundaries of protest by occupying public space in radical, fun and subtly transgressive ways.


Amy Learmonth is a registered architect practising in Brisbane and a co-founder of Unqualified Design Studio (UDS), a collective working in the space between public art, architecture and spectacle performance. UDS’ work has been featured at festivals around Australia, including Vivid Sydney. Amy is passionate about public design discourse, and regularly speaks about architecture at community events. She graduated from the Master of Architecture at the University of Queensland in 2014 with the Australian Institute of Architects QIA Memorial Medallion.


With design collective Unqualified Design Studio, Amy Learmonth designs interactive and participatory experiences that aim to make everyday citizens (cultural) producers, rather than consumers of public space. Drawing on the concept of ‘serious play’, her goal is to generate meaningful social interactions in the public realm through spatial interventions, physical installations, performances, spectacles, community workshops and games. These playful interactions address issues of spatial justice in the built environment with varying levels of explicitness.

Serious Play suggests it is time for a new kind of activism— one that is more inclusive, welcoming and non-judgmental. In this episode, Amy and her collaborators re-imagine the format and the boundaries of protest and action by occupying public space in radical, fun and subtly transgressive ways. They blur the distinction between ‘spectator’ and ‘performer’ and invite people to realise their own power and agency through the medium of play.


Marisa Georgiou
Artist, co-founder of Unqualified
Design Studio, co-founder
of people+artist+place.

Amanda Haworth
Performing artist, applied
theatre practitioner.

Megan Keene
Photographer, publisher
and photo-editor.

Fiona McAlpine
Architectural engagement strategist, founding member of the ProVibers — Catalysts for Connection in our Community.

Aleea Monsour
Creative producer, theatre maker, community theatre facilitator.

Natalie Osborne
Founding member of The Right to the City Brisbane, co-curator of Brisbane Free University, co-contributor to Radio Reversal, lecturer at Griffith University.

A participatory performance
at Federation Square

A dinner table-style conversation
and introduction to Serious Play



Tuesday, 7 August
1PM – 3PM



This episode is a chance to ask out loud some of the questions that Naomi Stead poses in her writing for WORKAROUND. These questions and the exhibition itself spring, in part, from the idea that (after Hannah Arendt) if one key purpose of life and work is to engage, to speak, to connect, to make change, then action is the best means we have to achieve that.

To explore these ideas we have assembled a group of artists and designers working towards positive social change, and we will examine examples of their work as case studies. We will ask, amongst other questions: what is design activism, or action in the sphere of design, architecture and spatial practice? Does it really have an appreciable effect? Does it have as much effect as activism in other spheres? Do its proponents think of themselves as activists? Does there have to be something at stake to take action in this sphere? Does there have to be a degree of personal risk? Do you have to have skin in the game? What are the systems such individuals work within? What are the barriers they work around? Is it actually possible to engage in activist practices from within institutional settings? What is the relationship between action and advocacy? Is it true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Can you be a ‘real’ activist if you have a salary and a permanent job? Have we got our objects right, our priorities right, our causes right? What can we actually do?

Lead by Kate Rhodes and Fleur Watson (RMIT University) and Naomi Stead (Monash University)

with Simona Castricum (musician, academic), Jane Caught (Sibling Architecture), Eugenia Lim (artist), Sarah Lynn Rees (Plangermaireener |Trawlwoolway, IADV Indigenous design) and Louise Wright (Barraco+Wright Architects)



Wednesday, 8 August
10AM – 4PM

‘Transition: Voices from the archive’

“One of the primary launch pads for the historian’s time travel is the archive.

History is sometimes depicted as a static, hidebound package of dates and facts, already given that must be learned. Anyone who researches and writes history, however, discovers that the past is alive and shifting. It is both elusive and malleable. Its chameleon quality is disturbing and raises questions about ethics and responsibility... It is a lifetime commitment. And it is completely collaborative and collegial, for every insight depends upon others.”

The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their craft [2016], Tom Griffiths.


Harriet Edquist is Professor of Architectural History in the School of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University and the Director of the RMIT Design Archives. She has published extensively on Australian architecture, art and design with a particular focus on the 20th century and has pioneered studies on émigré architects in Melbourne and the Australian Arts and Crafts movement.

From 1987 to 1991 Harriet co-edited Transition: Discourse on Architecture, an influential architectural journal published by RMIT’s Department of Architecture. She edited the special issue of Transition on Robin Boyd in 1992. Harriet is also a curator and has presented major innovative exhibitions on diverse subjects, ranging from the cultural landscape of the Western District of Victoria to Australian car design. Her current research includes the ARC funded project: Bauhaus Diaspora: Transforming Education in Art, Architecture and Design.


In 1989 Transition hosted an event to celebrate its 10th anniversary. This multi-pronged affair comprised of a conference at Pharmacy College on Victoria Parade, an exhibition at the State Library of Victoria and a keynote lecture and opening celebration in the Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria. The focus of the celebration was Robin Boyd and his role as a critic and public activist in the cause of Australian architecture. In 1992 the conference papers were published in a special issue of Transition. In this episode, Harriet Edquist uses archival traces of this event as prompts to reflect, thirty years later, on its legacy and the role a journal might assume as provocateur and activist in the public realm.


with Vanessa Bird, Karen Burns, Dean Cass, Harriet Edquist, Philip Goad, Conrad Hamann, Christine Phillips and Helen Stuckey




Thursday, 9 August
10AM — 3:30PM

‘A Day in the Life of a Humanitarian Architect’

Humanitarian architecture transforming lives through design.


Esther Charlesworth is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University and Director of the Humanitarian Architecture Research Lab (HARB). She is the founding Director of Architects without Frontiers (AWF). Since 2002, AWF has undertaken over 42 health, education and social infrastructure projects in 12 countries for vulnerable communities, and has been described by ABC radio broadcaster Phillip Adams as ‘destined to develop into one of the greater forces of good on this battered planet’.

At RMIT, Charlesworth is the Academic Director of Master of Disaster, Design and Development degree (MoDDD). Since 1990 she has worked in the public and private sectors of architecture and urban design in Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Boston and has published seven books on the theme of social justice and architecture, including: Divided Cities (2009), Humanitarian Architecture (2014) and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction (2015).


The fundamental purpose of architecture is to provide shelter, but in a world obsessed by novelty, development and acquisition this purpose is often subverted and obscured. Concerned with the welfare and wellbeing of individuals and communities, Humanitarian Architects utilise their problem-solving capacities to address complex shelter and infrastructure challenges in vulnerable communities, at both micro and macro scales.

The work of Humanitarian Architects spans across often divergent spatial and political geographies. From Maningrida to Kabul, A Day in the Life of the Humanitarian Architect explores the practice and projects of a wide group of individuals dedicated to improving human welfare through designing shelter and infrastructure in complex post disaster and socially marginalised communities. This episode begins with RMIT students joining Yasmeen Lari (Pakistan’s first female architect) for a bamboo structure-building workshop, followed by forum on related work by invited humanitarian practitioners from Australia and around the world.

Yasmeen Lari with RMIT students


with Eric J Cesal, Esther Charlesworth, Shaneen Fantin, Martyn Hook, Jane Johnson, Yasmeen Lari, Leeanne Marshall, Nicole Mechkaroff, David O’Brien, Fabian Prideaux and Robert Watson



Friday, 10 August
10AM – 4PM

‘A Spatial Conversation Machine’

Surrender to the Diagram!


Sam Spurr is a spatial practitioner who uses conversation as a key thinking-making technique in the formation of her projects. Sam is an academic who works across writing, curation, event and symposium direction. Her projects are rarely solo endeavours but rely on collaborative partnerships.

Conversations are understood as collaborative mechanisms in the production of novelty, and activism as the mobilisation of new collectives, bringing together often disparate stakeholders into productive conversations. Particular to architectural practice is to see the conversation both diagrammatically and spatially. In this way, the opinions of individuals shift to an exploration of what happens in between two or more bodies, a turn from humanist value to a post-human, ecological one. She is interested in architecture as the material evidence of political, ecological and sociological relations. For this reason, architectural conversations are necessarily enmeshed with other disciplines.


A Spatial Conversation Machine is part academic discussion, part intimate conversation, part performance art and part book club. In this episode, Sam Spurr uses the conversation as a thinking-making technique and investigates how the spatial arrangement of chairs, tables and audience members also rearrange and recalibrate the kinds of conversations we have. In this way, the episode can be viewed as a diagram aimed at creating the setting for improvisational thinking.

Conversation topics will include the formation of the collective political subject, feminism, political ecologies, critical spatial practices and fossil fuel ideologies. To create this episode, Sam collaborated with artist Diana Baker Smith and architect-artist Eduardo Kairuz. Audience members are invited to engage with the reading list and curated online lecture series below prior to the Episode broadcast:

Bennett, Jane. “Systems and Things: On Vital Materialism and Object-Orientated Philosophy.” The Nonhuman Turn, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2015, pp. 223-239.

Braidotti, Rosi. “Four Theses on Posthuman Feminism.” Anthropocene Feminism, edited by Richard Grusin, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2017, pp. 21–48.

Butler, Judith. “Bodily Vulnerability, Coalitions, and Street Politics.” Critical Studies 37, 2014, pp.99-119.

Mouffe, Chantal, The Affects of Democracy, Patocka Memorial Lecture, Vienna, May 4, 2017.

with Eduardo Kairuz and other invited guests

with invited guests

with invited guests



Saturday, 11 August
12PM — 2PM

‘Parlour Super Salon – a conversation with Architecture + Women • NZ’

Ongoing action on gender equity is essential to the future of architecture — a more inclusive profession is a more robust profession. Gender equity is the responsibility of everyone: women and men, individuals and practices, institutions and the industry. It’s time to step up.


Parlour is a research-based advocacy organisation working for gender equity in architecture and the built environment, which provides a ‘space to speak’. Parlour provides places for active exchange and discussion, online and off. It seeks to expand the spaces and opportunities available to women while also revealing the many women who already contribute in diverse ways.

Architecture + Women • NZ (A+W • NZ) has two core aims. First, visibility: to help make visible the hard work of women in architecture. Second, inclusiveness: to remove or reduce as many barriers as possible (including those springing from class, religion, culture, sexual orientation). A+W • NZ works from the strong platform of gender, for the benefit of all those who work in architecture.

Founded in 2011 and 2012 respectively, A+W • NZ and Parlour are among the earliest of the current wave of international organisations acting for greater gender equity in architecture.


The Super Salon episode brings Australia’s Parlour and Architecture + Women • NZ together in a public conversation. Key representatives of the two groups will reflect on five years of intense action, and will project forward to future plans. With an emphasis on sharing ideas, experience, strategies and tactics, the loosely structured conversation will expand out into interactive engagement with the audience.

with Justine Clark, Gill Matthewson, Divya Purushotham, Lynda Simmons and Naomi Stead



Selected video rushes from the WORKAROUND episodes

Curatorial reflections on WORKAROUND with Kate Rhodes, Fleur Watson and Naomi Stead