Mosaic of Learning: Incubating Creative Confluence Through the Student Artefact
In 2011 our environments saturate us with information, but do little to cultivate creativity. The spaces we live, learn, work and play in are dictated to us as static boundaries within which we are safe and comfortable, but not stimulated. A globalised world has allowed people to communicate through intangible media across oceans and continents with unlimited access to the knowledge of the world. Why then, should our economic prosperity and creative activity be increasingly concentrated on densely populated agglomerations?
Part one of this thesis asked the question: How can Northbridge present its rich cultural milieu to further the identity of Perth as a competitor for creative capital? It investigated the creative economy zeitgeist through the work of leading theorist Richard Florida, delving into the environments that maintain and at- tract the creative class to cities where this human innovation has clustered. With creativity as its central asset, this new economy has created a global competition between cities to attract human capital - the creative class - through flexible, diverse environments that cultivate creativity and individual identity. The objective of the text was to create a framework for Perth become a competitor for creative capital, with research showing that it struggles to maintain this human resource. Though the city’s economy currently thrives off a booming mining industry, Perth will eventually have to face the reality of its finite economic sustenance. By developing a creative economy there is an opportunity to transition our mineral dependency towards more sustainable capital, generated by human creativity. Currently, however, there is very little to support creative talent in the city and young creatives do not have the tactile environments that can provide them with an environment of potential.
Placelessness prevails in Perth, as the artefacts of our human occupation are not given value, leaving little to satiate the creative class’ need for a city rich with culture and diversity. With no tangible attachment to the city, Perth’s future creative economy - built in our cultural and educational institutions - is being poached by cities with greater creative pull and where the confluence of new ideas and culture is strong. Within Perth, Northbridge provides the city with a rich cultural milieu that has historically incubated new cultures and diversity. Here there is an opportunity to utilise the present cultural infrastructure and subcultural artefacts as an asset in the city’s competitiveness as a creative class magnet. Using a framework to structure the relationship between them, Northbridge can provide a forum for discourse about the tactile artefacts of Perth’s diverse population. Members of the creative class are thusly provided with a diverse milieu of environments and ways of living, working and entertaining that would not be available to them elsewhere.
Within this small, but uniquely rich location, creatives are give the opportunity to generate creative capital for Perth through the confluence of different cultures. The framework for these spaces, whilst cultivating current subcultures, enables the layering of new culture, artefacts and ways of life onto the current and future built environments of Northbridge. The resulting environment is a palimpsest of diversity: a cultural capitol that will attract the creative class to the city.
Much of the framework for these spaces is derived from Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language (1974), part one outlines the adapted combination of patterns, governed by the macro-scale ‘Mosaic of Subcultures’. Nodes of subcultural intensity were delineated from the broader built fabric of Northbridge by identifying points where that subculture’s artefacts are most concentrated. These locations provide a platform for each specific subculture to be an intense incubator of culture for its occupants. Each node services the particular needs of that subculture, provided by their built artefacts, ensuring a unique public realm that utilises a poetry of patterns that will enrich and amplify their cultural output. Whilst remaining distinct from the heterogeneity of the surrounding Northbridge area, these intense urban volumes and their surrounding artefacts must be woven into the current fabric to ensure that they invite public access and interaction. They must be a forum for discourse about Perth’s increasingly diverse identity and a built embodiment of a city open to diversity and flexible with what is new, and different, and creative.
Part two, Mosaic of Learning: Incubating Creative Confluence through the Student Artefact, focuses on the design of the student subcultural node located on Money street. It should be noted that the six subcultures articulated in part one are all important to creating the broader mosaic of subcultures. The design is intended to display how Alexander’s Patterns can fulfill the requirements specific to a subculture and serve a niche within the macro framework. The student subculture was chosen above others, firstly, because the students represent the future creative class of Perth, making them doubly important to a future creative economy. Secondly, the node and the institutions it supports represent to the broader public the importance of education and the cultivation of knowledge and creativity as a resource. Finally, the student node was chosen for the fact that, above all the other nodes, it has the most bleak and inactive public realm and is least receptive to student artefacts.
Unlike other subcultures students have no specific identity. They are as diverse in their population as the mosaic that surrounds them. Their artefacts change with each new generation and their individual identities are altered by the knowledge and experiences accumulated through the institutions they attend. However, due to the internal focus of their environments, they are unable to learn from the rich milieu that thrives beyond their institutions. They cannot engage the public in a discourse about student artefacts and their individual identities. The current node does little to excite the student about a future in Perth. Talented creatives will leave if a city cannot provide a dynamic and exciting environment for them. The students must have a subcultural node with an atmosphere of potential, saturated with learning and the palimpsest 4 of student artefacts left by previous generations.
This volume covers the continuation of a the initial framework set by its predecessor Creative Confluence: Articulating a Mosaic of Subcultures in Northbridge. Acting as a complimentary design to the previous macro level research, it applies the theory and initial site analysis laid out by its predecessor. By enacting this framework, the design acts as a study in how other subcultural sites in Northbridge can a be enriched to further Perth’s cultural identity and attract the creative class in doing so. The process of applying the framework will be demonstrated in the manner of its dominant text A Pattern Language, using succinct language to compliment explanatory diagrams.