In February 2013, the Robin Boyd Foundation held its inaugural Summer School in association with the University of Melbourne. The School was a logical extension of the work of the Robin Boyd Foundation under its banner of ‘Understanding Design’.
The Summer School was a six day intensive studio based program that provided an opportunity for students to better equip themselves theoretically and practically as architects of the future and to develop critical thinking around architectural design. The chosen site and project brief were a way for the Studio to act as a ‘practical think tank’ of ideas for projects on the government agenda and public architecture and was on land that could potentially be freed up by the decommissioning of an off ramp from the Westgate freeway along Sturt Street in the heart of the South Melbourne Arts Precinct. This land is currently under consideration by a government working group and the students were required to develop a strong urban design and contextual response as well as a built form and architectural response.
Boyd’s former home in Walsh Street provided a deliberately alternative experience to the studios normally run at the University. There was participation from students from both Melbourne and Monash and it is hoped that in the future the attendance will extend to more Universities throughout Australia.
The program for the week was a balance of inputs and outputs and was based around two ‘Master’ architects who assisted in setting up the design ideas, each giving time to develop a dialogue about the chosen site and to engage in constructive critique. Both John Denton and Rob Adams provide complimentary inputs into the studio and supported the notion of the studio from its inception. Rob Deutscher ran the studio on a day-to-day basis with Tony Lee as Executive Director of the Robin Boyd Foundation providing critical support – and fabulous food.
Additional input was provided by a range of prominent professionals from the design community in Melbourne as a way of broadening the understanding of the role of public architecture and the role of an architect in public spaces. The feedback from students during the Summer School was very positive with the students benefitting from the various inputs to provoke thought and enjoying working in groups and working in the Walsh Street house.