SAF12 Talk - The Allegory of the Cave

By Architecture Insights

Nov. 1, 2012

12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Austral Bricks Design Studio, Ground Floor, 50 Carrington Street, Sydney

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The University of New South Wales will run their hugely successful Lunchtime Lectures at Austral Bricks Design Studio.  Dr Sing D'Arcy will present "The Allegory of the Cave:   Speculations between interior and landscpae for the Barangaroo Headland Cultural Facility"


The recent and extended controversy surrounding the Barangaroo development in Sydney has seen prominent architects and planners voice their concern over the cultural facility to be built underneath the headland park. The giant cave-like space has no assigned programme apart from a notional cultural use.  The crux of the debate is the loss of a potential architectural marker for the site and the city – a possibility which the synthesis of landscape and interior inherently negate – effectively immunising Sydney from the ‗Bilbao Syndrome‘. This new typology of landscape/interior is directly shaped by the corporate, political and ecological initiatives which drive much of Sydney‘s contemporary development, and to the chagrin of many, has inverted the traditional relationship of architecture and interior.

In 2011, final-year students from the Bachelor or Interior Architecture, University of New South Wales, were asked to speculate on the potential of this new typology, one in which landscape, and not architecture, conditioned the relationship of the interior to the exterior. Each student was required to develop a brief and then a spatial response to the proposed cultural facility embedded within the Barangaroo headland park. Unchained from the confines of its Allegorical Cave, the traditional role of the interior as a venture incapable of independent action or force for change is challenged in the range of projects developed by the students. Through an analysis of a selection of student projects it will be argued that the opening of dialogue between landscape and interior offers a new way of developing the practice of interior architecture in light of the supermodern paradigm and the new flows of space and form it invites.

Sing d’Arcy undertook his architectural education at the University of Sydney where he later returned to complete his doctoral studies in architectural history. His research focuses on role of music in the configuration of interior spaces, particularly ecclesiastical and civic, as well as ephemeral architecture and interiors of the early-modern period. Recent publications and presentations have addressed topics such as architectural praxis and reform in Enlightenment Spain, ephemeral interiors both in contemporary and early-modern contexts, the debate surrounding the design of the interior of Sydney Town Hall and the place of pipe organ design in modern Roman Catholic space. In addition he is a regular contributor to industry reviews on the design of contemporary Sydney interiors.

Sing is a lecturer in the Interior Architecture Program of the Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW. He teaches in the program‘s design studios and technology courses.


Free, booking required