PRS Australia

The Practice Research Symposium (PRS) features public examinations and progress review presentations by Higher Degree by Research candidates in RMIT’s School of Architecture & Urban Design and School of Design.

Public examinations and progress reviews by PhD candidates working across the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, fashion & textiles, digital design, communication design and spatial information architecture will be held at the next PRS from 6 – 9 June 2019All events will be held at RMIT Design Hub, Building 100, corner Swanston and Victoria Streets, Melbourne (unless otherwise stated).

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Program & Abstract Book


View abstracts June 2019

PRS Australia Launch and Exhibit Opening

Friday, 7 June, 5 – 6.30pm

Venue: Design Hub Gallery, Project Rooms 1 & 2, Level 2, with welcome by PRS Australia Chair, Dr. Leanne Zilka

Book launches and Keynote

6.30 – 7.30pm

Venue: Design Hub Gallery, Lecture Theatre, Level 3

Design Practice Research in Architecture and Design at RMIT, 1986–2011
The Pink Book, Third Edition
Presented by Prof Leon van Schaik AO

On The Exchange at Knowledge Market: An Urban Living Lab
Presented by A/Prof Charles Anderson, A/Prof Ross McLeod and A/Prof Shanti Sumartojo

PRS Keynote Lecture - Dr Christopher Pierce

Ceràmica Cumella: Shaping Ideas

Focusing on the four main fabrication processes in use at Ceràmica Cumella – extruding, casting, pressing and revolving – Shaping Ideas presents the work of Toni Cumella and the application of his ceramics in some of contemporary architecture’s most significant projects. Born in 1951, the son of ceramicist Antoni Cumella, Toni Cumella studied industrial engineering at the University of Barcelona before devoting himself entirely to ceramics in 1970. After the death of his father in 1985 Cumella redirected the focus of the workshop towards the development of architectural projects and large-scale artworks, working closely with Studio PER. Between 1989 and 1992 the Cumella workshop undertook two major architectural commissions: the restoration of Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló (with architect Josep Botey) and Parc Güell (with architects José Antonio Martínez Lapeña & Elías Torres). Numerous collaborations followed, including Parc Diagonal Mar and Mercat de Santa Caterina by Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue, the Spanish Pavilions at Expo 2005 by Foreign Office Architects and Expo 2008 by Patxi Mangado, Villa Nurbs by Enric Ruiz-Geli and major installations by the artists Frederic Amat, Pep Durán and Joan Fontcuberta.
Recently completed are projects with Renzo Piano, Centro Botin in Santander; Kengo Kuma, Camper in Barcelona; Amanda Levete, MAAT in Lisbon; Carme Pinós, Massana School in Barcelona; and Hotel Ohla in Barcelona with Dani Isern.

Christopher Pierce is an educator, writer, curator and designer. At the Architectural Association (AA) since 2007 for the last nine years he has been Head of the AA Visiting School – creating an integrated global network of part-time architectural courses/programmes operating in the world’s leading schools, cultural centres and other settings in over forty countries on five continents. He is concurrently on the AA’s Senior Management Team, Intermediate 9 Unit Master, and is leading the AA’s application to the UK Privy Council for Taught Degree Awarding Powers – a momentous step in the School’s 170–year history.

PhD Examinations

Paul Loh

Digital material practice: the agency of making

Thursday 6 June, 10am – 12pm

Audience to arrive 15 minutes before exam starts as no late entry

Project Room 1, Level 2, Design Hub
Examiners: Prof Marc Aurel Schnabel, Dr Dermott McMeel
Chair: A/Prof Charles Anderson
Supervisors: Dr Malte Wagenfeld, Prof Jane Burry

Advanced digital fabrication has coupled virtual design modelling and material prototyping in new ways. This has permeated the discourse of architectural teaching, research and practice. A complicated relationship between the production of architecture and digital technology emerges especially when examined through the medium of making. Making is typically seen as an activity that is a means to an end: to achieve a built outcome. I have researched whether the activity of making can be a generative design process in its own right; a knowledge-generating activity.

In this research, I reconsider the relationship between contemporary tectonic culture and digital fabrication in what I call a ‘digital material practice’. This is a model of practice that employs the act of making and digital fabrication as drivers for its generative design process. The fabrication workflow, prototypes and tools emerge as critical agents. These agents have an agentive capacity to deliver what I call affordances for design. Affordances produce emergent aesthetic values that contribute to the formulation and negotiate architectural design intentions through a continuous feedback process. These values are uncovered during and after the act of making.


Gyungju Chyon

The Attentive Maker: forwarding the interrelationality of thing, material, environment and maker

Thursday 6 June, 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Audience to arrive 15 minutes before exam starts as no late entry

Project Room 2, Level 2, Design Hub
Examiners: Dr Janine Randerson, Dr Ainslie Murray
Chair: A/Prof Mick Douglas
Supervisors: A/Prof Charles Anderson, Dr Scott Mitchell, Prof Pia Ednie-Brown

The Attentive Maker investigates the ways in which a designer may approach the making of things in consonance with the inherent aliveness of materials. Between things, materials, environments and makers, there forms a relational field where the dynamic interplay between all of these entities emerges.

Materials and things are open to interrelations with their environment, producing spatiotemporal qualities. Heightening this openness means allowing materials, environments, and the maker to come in and out of their relational field, and in turn, making and re-making relationships between them. To do this, rather than controlling materials, the maker needs to be precise in setting up the conditions for this relationship to play out and be attuned to the ways in which this complex interplay is manifested. At the same time, vagueness is important so as not to close up the emerging interrelationality. This is what it means for the maker to be attentive to the interrelationality of things.

The research gives a detailed account of the experience of making and observing things after they are made through design projects utilising a wide range of materials from ceramic to algae, textiles to sunlight, paper to bacteria, and digital sensors to fog.


John de Manincor

Surface and the Spaces Between: an exploration of surface – space relationships in architecture through the work of AO: The Architecture Office

Friday 7 June, 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Audience to arrive 15 minutes before exam starts as no late entry

Project Room 2, Level 2, Design Hub
Examiners: Dr Christopher Pierce, Dr Stephen Neille
Chair: A/Prof Paul Minifie
Supervisors: Prof Martyn Hook, A/Prof Richard Black

This inquiry explores surface as a boundary condition in the conception, construction and consumption of architecture through the work of AO: The Architecture Office.

A key outcome of this research casts surface as the simultaneous limit of material and boundary of space. I have come to understand surface as a “multifarious condition”. The ‘multifarious surface’ is neither explicitly cladding nor structure, rather it is simply the conceptual construct that brings them into existence. The dual roles of the ‘multifarious surface’ move away from existing notions in the discipline whereby surface is first and foremost a material condition (from surface as cladding or skin, patterned or otherwise) to surface as the conceptual state of the boundary. It is simultaneously passive and active, implied as both material and immaterial, affective and effective.

The ‘multifarious surface’ rejects material authenticity as a default position in pursuit of conceptual autonomy, yet acknowledges the constraints of physics and economics in a process that oscillates between ideas about buildings and buildings about ideas. To think of surface in this manner is a potentially liberating way of conceiving and perceiving architecture, whereby idea, volume and form might be continually decoupled and recoupled from questions of material and construction – each through the lens of surface.


Ben Milbourne

MUTATIONS: Experiments in typology, process and the instrumentality of recognition

Friday 7 June, 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Audience to arrive 15 minutes before exam starts as no late entry

Project Room 1, Level 2, Design Hub
Examiners: Prof Sarah McGann, Prof Alan Pert
Chair: Prof Leon van Schaik
Supervisors: Prof Vivian Mitsogianni, A/Prof Roland Snooks, Dr Leanne Zilka

This research is a reflection on the creative practice of Ben Milbourne, investigating the criteria used and the judgement of their application in the development of architectural and design works. The focus of this PhD has been on exploring processes of transformation, or mutation, of typological information embedded within existing built environments in response to changes in what we require of buildings and the evolving ways in which they are realised. In the context of this research, ‘Mutate’ is related to its etymological root in Latin, meaning ‘to change’ reflecting an interest in the transition from one configuration to another of architectural traits (formal, spatial, surface and others), while remaining recognisably related to the original or base condition. Investigations documented include an examination of the way in which this practice seeks to engage with existing built environments, articulating a distinction between urban ‘data’ manifestation within a particular place and typological ‘information’ identifiable through the examination of multiple objects or environments of the same type. Through this research I describe a projective typological approach for new design works that carry this typological information for insertions within existing built environments. I also explore design strategies for accommodating programmatic volatility that privileges indeterminacy and investigates the implications of the adoption of advanced fabrication on the design outputs and the organisations of my practice.