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 23 – 27 October 2019 at the RMIT Design Hub, corner Swanston and Victoria Streets, Melbourne.

To join our mailing list please contact prs_australia@rmit.edu.au.



Abstract Book and Program

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View Abstracts October 2019



Weekend Program

PhD Examinations

Tal Mor Sinay

Not just a Toothbrush:
Meaning making in informal commemorative practices

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Wednesday 23 October 2019 10am – 12pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub
Pavilion 1, Level 10, RMIT University
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Stephen Loo, Dr Mark Richardson
Chair: Dr Roger Kemp
Supervisors: A/Prof Quentin Stevens, A/Prof Charles Anderson, Dr Liam Fennessy

The memorial is an object which reflects and represents people as part of a society or as individuals in a certain time in history. In many ways my interest in these objects is that as of a scientist: investigating the particular socio-material phenomena of memorialising within a petri dish of human culture. This research focusses on informal commemorative practices derives from their distinctive but diverse visual and contextual characteristics in an attempt to understand people’s needs and practices in this realm. It explores the informal, the spontaneous, and the individual memorial such as road side memorials, ghost bikes, and spontaneous shrines, rather than the permanent and monumental.

This is a project-based research consisting of the design, planning and execution of a set of proposed projects to explore possible forms and methods of informal memorial design. These take in consideration and respond to different variants: local needs, limitations and possibilities which are encountered along the way.

The exploration of the memorial realm is set to provide a better understanding of the role of the creative practice vis-à-vis the varied “clients” of these objects, i.e. the mourners, the stakeholders, government agencies and of course, the general public.



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Simon Spain

The Bi-Encounteral Heart:
Intra-connecting creative encounters in a world of uncertainty

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Wednesday 23 October 2019 10am – 12pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 1, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Judith McLean, Prof Sue Best
Chair: A/Prof Lawrence Harvey
Supervisors: A/Prof Soumitri Varadarajan, Prof Julian Goddard, A/Prof Mick Douglas

This reflective practice-based research enmeshes three distinct, but interdependent new bodies of my work reconceived within a new intraconnected model, the Bi-encounteral Heart. A series of self-portraits reflecting personal loss; an exemplar of artist-led and co-designed public participatory creative encounters; and a trans-pedagogic immersive initiative are examined to
reframe the forms and tensions within my long-standing creative practice.
Three questions sit at the heart of this critical reflective inquiry: How does my personal and public creative practice help nourish a rich connection to myself and my communities?
Why should artists design creative encounters as public participatory creative productions?
How can components of a creative practice be reconceived within a new intraconnected model to feed a personal and social creative ecology?

This reconceptualization of creative practice affirms Beuysean theories that making art is not restricted to artists. This dissertation proposes that there is an urgent need to harness the transformative capacity of intra-connected creative practice to nourish individuals, strengthen relationships, and prepare communities to face uncertain futures in a disenchanted world. The Biencounteral Heart proposes a framework for essential aptitudes for artists and public to intra-connect with self and community, with land and time, and within a personal and social creative ecology.



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Eduardo Kairuz

Undisciplined: of Architectural Nomadism and the Rebellious Practice

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Wednesday 23 October 2019 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 1, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Stephen Loo, Dr Peter Raisbeck
Chair: A/Prof Charles Anderson
Supervisors: Dr Michael Spooner, Dr Gretchen Wilkins

This PhD is concerned with questions of the transformative effects of crisis in architecture as a discipline. This concern emerges from a critical examination of my practice and work, which, although founded on the discipline of architecture, results from its contingent amalgamation with other fields. The research is focused on projects developed in contexts of profound socio-political instability (i.e. corruption, violence, poverty, and exile), including informal settlements in Venezuela, which provide the background to the discussion of recent projects. In this process, the PhD interrogates the volatility of this crisis refrain, articulating a framework to propose an undisciplined form of spatial practice.

This framework not only advocates for working across different fields, but also, for practising rebelliously and nomadically. With this, the PhD questions entrenched disciplinary categories, developing unorthodox methodologies that facilitate the construction of new architectural narratives. In consequence, this PhD’s contribution to the field lies in the articulation of an ever-flowing framework of architectural production, as well as in the proposal of an expanded mode of spatial practice which can contribute to the preservation of architecture’s disciplinary freedom.



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Emma Jackson

Everywhen: Dirty algorithms to agitate a more appropriate
occupation of Australia

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Thursday 24 October 2019 10am – 12pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 1, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Hannah Lewi, A/Prof Tony van Raat
Chair: Prof Vivian Mitsogianni
Supervisors: Prof Martyn Hook, Prof Carey Lyon

A lot of planning policy in Australia feels like fantasy; predicated on things we no longer believe in and responding to the perceived realities of somewhere more desirable. Nowhere is this more clear than in the North of Australia. The current fantasy was transplanted from England and has prevailed for 230 years. It is a built discourse of denial; designing out more than 60,000 years of occupation by First Nations People, 4 billion years of geology, the diverse culture of present-day publics, the extreme climate and its geographic isolation.

No commercial or government practice can deal with the complexities of these difficult pasts and presents. This requires a different way of working. This PhD becomes an exploration of a different way of working; a practice of provocation.

This practice of provocation uses dirty techniques and algorithms to disable and break inappropriate cultural logics and liberate new models of occupation. The research is delivered as a series of provocations that reveal new ways of seeing and thinking about ownership and title, history and time, the coast and the inland, the centre and isolation.

The projects are set in the everywhen, that is to say, they respond to all times simultaneously; past, present, and future. The everywhen contextualises and abstracts contemporary colonial constructs and situating the projects in it, enables me to both reveal the fantasy of contemporary best practice urban design, and incense an appetite for a more appropriate alternative.



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Stephen Banham

The Legible City:
Stories of place told through a typographic lens

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Thursday 24 October 2019 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Venue: RMIT Design Archive
154 Victoria Street (next to Design Hub)

Examiners: Dr Denise Whitehouse, Prof Kate Sweetapple
Chair: Prof Laurene Vaughan
Supervisors: A/Prof Brad Haylock, Prod Harriet Edquist

This research proposes a mode of telling stories of place and history through the eye of the typographer: How can the world be made legible through a typographic lens?This research proposes that the perspective of the typographer – namely the ability to see nuance and pattern – can offer clarity to phenomena beyond conventional letterforms.

Framing the research through Nigel Cross’ proposition of a ‘designerly way of knowing’, I explore how a typographic viewpoint becomes a ‘typographic way of knowing’. My research centres on the capacity of this ‘typographic lens’ to uncover underlying narratives and connections to larger social systems including economics, politics and social history. These investigations seek to contribute new knowledge in developing and articulating the uses of this unique prism. An ultimately practical use of my research is that it offers a compelling model in how a typographic way of knowing can be used to develop and disseminate stories that contribute to an understanding of typography’s broader cultural significance.



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Kirsten Moegerlein

Designing in Transition:
Towards intimacy in ecological uncertainty

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 25 October 2019 10am – 12pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub
Pavilion 1, Level 10, RMIT University
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Stacy Holman-Jones, A/Prof Jacqueline Gothe
Chair: A/Prof Brad Haylock
Supervisors: A/Prof Yoko Akama, A/Prof Mick Douglas, Prof Sarah Pink

This PhD traces my attempts to re-orient my design practice from visual communication design to a more expanded participatory practice that supports intimacy in ecological uncertainty. At the
inception of this research I was deeply unsettled by the global ecological crisis and searching for a way to respond through design.

I joined a small fledgling community called The Weekly Service, that was exploring what it means to be human in these times of transition through storytelling and curatorial practices. After two years of close collaboration with community members and a core team, I developed a deeply relational practice concerned with emergent social processes. Rather than focusing on the outcome of this transition (the expanded participatory practice), in this research I seek to reveal the process of transition, what I refer to as designing in transition. I provide a practice-orientated methodology for documenting and analysing transitions in practice that are concerned with ways of designing and ways of orientating oneself in relation to others and the broader ecological crisis.



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Simon Whibley

Drifting in Place: Looking and Moving Through Architecture

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 25 October 2019 10am – 12pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 2, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Sarah McGann, A/Prof Tony van Raat
Chair: Dr Leanne Zilka
Supervisors: A/Prof Paul Minifie, Prof Martyn Hook

This work presents design methodologies that anchor the drifting spatiality of urban environments into the discrete architectural project. It contends that this ‘drifting in place’ orchestrates particular relationships between the imaginary, architectural and occupied spaces of a project, allowing qualities relating to how the city is traversed and seen – its complexities of passage and collage – to take hold within a building.

Using three projects of my practice as case studies, drift is initially explored as a spatial condition created between the primary design elements of each building. These elements derive from an ongoing interest in architecture’s conceptual and performative dispositions. Drift is shown to occur between those parts of building’s design that reference its concepts, as well as between these conceptual references and performative design strategies at work within each project. Emerging through this case study analysis is an understanding of drift not only as condition of between but also as an element of spatial and material design in itself. Through this discovery, this manner of experiencing and understanding the city can model the architectural concerns of a project in settings far removed from the urban.

It is, perhaps, in how this model is populated with content that the value of this work lies. This content is taken from observations of the project’s context, its purpose and its clients; the situation of the project that is inherited and the situation it will effect.

This work bears an optimism regarding the capacity for buildings to embody ideas, notes the reliance on their occupation to do so, and considers what constitutes a contemporary architecture.



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Bonne Zabolotney

Discontented: Actions and Tactics of a Design Studies Practice

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 25 October 2019 2.30 – 4.30pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 2, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: A/Prof Gene Bawden, Dr Jacqueline Lorber Kasunic
Chair: A/Prof Brad Haylock
Supervisors: Prof Laurene Vaughan, Prof Cameron Tonkinwise

This PhD investigates how a practice of design studies affects the development of new and challenging frameworks in design history and design culture in Canada. My research proposes a departure from the privileged spaces of Art Historical concepts such as originality, location, pedigree, and authorship in design history in order to build an inclusive and equitable approach to understanding design history. My research question guiding my work, asks: How might the use of unconventional theoretical frameworks disrupt existing structures used to critique design and establish networks of knowledge?

My design studies practice is represented by a framework of five actions and tactics — piercing, consigning, pivoting, transmuting, and spamming — each applied to four goals of conceptual findings — de-trashing, consigning, filtering, and constituting. This framework is intended to be interpreted by other design studies practitioners, adopted or adapted in order to build future networks of knowledge to “[contend] with what we have made” (Dilnot 2015), and to subvert the problematic categorization of design into inflexible design history canons



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Thierry Lacoste

Building emotions

Please arrive 15 minutes early to exam as no late entry.

Friday 25 October 2019 2.30pm – 4.30pm
Venue: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
Project Room 1, Level 2, RMIT Design Hub
Crnr Victoria St and Swanston St

Examiners: Prof Stephen Loo, Dr Mark Richardson
Chair: Prof Vivian Mitsogianni
Supervisors: Maggie Edmond, Dr Stephen Collier

Examining our office design attitude revealed a recurrent desire to trigger emotional responses.
At the start of a project, our approach is not about style. It is not about efficiency, constructability or sustainability. It is not even about beauty. It is about what is left when all these ingredients have been set aside. It is the essence of the design, the one concept that will guide all future decisions.
This thesis does not concern the expert view of the discipline, but rather the experience of the ordinary observer. It regards the emotion that remains in your memory, long after visiting the building, when the peripheral details have been forgotten.

The research explores ways of creating emotions such as fun and contrast, involving nature and ethics while enhancing the spirit of the place. It is a counterbalance to the imagination of today’s architect that is perpetually tempted by a multitude of random references and restricted by an ever-increasing sophistication of building techniques, regulations and constrictive market forces.
Exposing this sensitive approach will help others to situate their work and apprehend the spirit of our time.


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