SEE-SAW &company, in collaboration with their project partner Gaffa gallery, invited PIDCOCK Architecture & Sustainability to take part in this years "See-Saw: Mend, Make-Do and Build Anew" as part of the Sydney Design 2011 festival.

The See-Saw project invites top design students from a range of Sydney design courses to join in an cross-disciplinary, collaborative project. This year the students were asked to combine their skills and imagine future solutions for the city of Sydney. The unique structure of the project is that the students only get two days to work within the Gaffa Gallery with a limited selection of materials and the knowledge that their response to the brief has to be installed in the gallery at the end of the second day. To add an extra bit of spice to the event the brief is only revealed to each group on the morning of the first day!

Our role within the two days was that of "Mentor" for our student group, a loose job description which would turn out to range from promoting discussion, offering advice, focusing energies to hanging out of the gallery ceiling with a hammer. Our Mentor "Team" consisted of myself, Caroline and Clare.


Day 1:

Our team assembled in the gallery's foyer at 10am and cast their eyes on the brief for the first time, "Shelter & Community". Caroline started the discussion about what "Shelter" and "Community" could mean in a modern urban context under the headings, "Mend, Make-do and Build Anew". What aspects of "Shelter & Community" need mending? How can we make do? And what requires total rethinking, and justifies building anew?


After lunch the discussion continued but at this stage all sleeves had been rolled up as concepts moved from "storyboarding" to "prototyping". The idea of creating a "Social Hub", a "node" in the city that acts as both a shelter and a meeting point at a local scale but also enhances feelings of community citywide at an urban scale, began to emerge.

Day 2:

A deadline is a wonderful thing for focusing the mind. With the knowledge that the installation had to be in place by the "close of business" that day the day began to proceed on three fronts, presentation boards, prototype models and large scale "in-situ" work in the gallery.


The design response to the brief was to provide a network of "hubs" around the city of Sydney. Each "hub" would be located strategically in an area of the city where it was found that the public space would benefit from an identifiable "nodal point" which offered both shelter and also information relating to city events and history. On an urban scale each "hub" would also be linked to all other "hubs" both stylistically and also from a communications point of view. This design response can be explained as a type of "urban acupuncture" that fulfills the brief of "Mend, Make-do and Build Anew".


-Fergal White

1 comment for “SEE-SAW”

Bill Bunting
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 5:30:34 PM

That sounds like it was a good challenge, and the output looks exciting.

I'm not sure how I would have reacted to the brief, but a flick reaction is to think of our community timescape and the immense difficulties it presents to maintaining a sense of community. One periodic event that I always enjoy is election day, as it is an opportunity to see many people who I otherwise never see. And it promotes a sense of letting go, and the accepting of the unavoidable and inevitable.

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