AGC Blog | From The Rooftop

MOS Architects - Housing No.5 Rosseua Lake College

16.10.2020 |A Discussion

MOS Architects is uniquely situated to challenge the architectural conventions of our time, rebuking existing notions of corporate professionalism and architectural uniformity, and instead prioritising playful exploration and constant contrarianism. Founded by husband and wife Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith, who both occupy teaching positions at Princeton and Columbia respectively, their work incorporates a rare blend of academia, technological innovation, and technical proficiency. However, as theyre firm has grown, questions have arisen regarding the continued un-conventionality of their architecture.

Representation is a word synonymous with MOS Architects and it remains the defining aspect of their practice that is most discussed and debated amongst those within the industry. Hilary Sample herself spoke of MOS belief that the future of architecture (Sample, 2009) was unconventional forms of representation in a 2009 lecture she gave at the University of Michigan. Defining unconventional representational techniques is difficult and often construed as simply drawing conventions. However, I would argue MOS has a much broader idea of what representation means, including areas such as such form, method, and concept. If we look at MOS early work exploring parametricism, they are utilising new technologies to generate new formalities, although, it is also clear they are undermining the results of their own experimentation. This is clearest in works such as afterparty, in which the high-tech (Meredith,2019) form is clearly generated by using advanced computational methods, while presenting itself with a primitive (Meredith, 2019) aesthetic. Furthermore, the conceptual framework behind the project itself is equally unconventional; designed for the Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA) Young Architects Program, the pavilion rebuked the academic discussions of the time to look for new promiscuities, new methods of design after the party of a sort of high-formalism that has dominated academic discourse of late (MOS, 2009). This antagonistic attitude towards contemporary ideas and methods has continued despite their success and the inevitable pragmatism that goes with running a profitable practice, with Michael stating, were kind of constantly contrarian (Meredith, 2019) in a recent interview. This outlook pervades MOS identity and projects to this day, with even their office statement dismissing the quote-unquote professionalism that is cold at its core, while emphasising their desire to be horizontal and fuzzy as opposed to tall and shiny. Their unbuilt project Housing No.5 exemplifies the evolution of their representational vexing; proposed in 2016, Housing No.5 was to be situated on the shore of Lake Rosseau in Ontario, Canada, offering student and faculty accommodation to the nearby college. While conventional in its brief, MOS typically challenged the ideals of student housing and its obligation to future inhabitants. Focused on the development of the individual (MOS 2016), their proposal aimed to merge community, individuality and nature into a series of dormitories (MOS, 2016). To achieve this, MOS fostered community with sheltered paths and gathering areas (MOS 2016), built individuality with unique self-contained residences (MOS 2016) and embedded nature (MOS 2016) into the daily routines as they live amongst the tree-lined lakefront (MOS 2016). The proposal utilises the topography of the site to align with the landscape (MOS 2016), while the continuous roof allows for paths, stairs and ramps to form between the breaks between units which are comprised of clusters of two to three. The continuous roof is penetrated by operable chimneys that act as light wells and ventilation shafts in the form of dumb geometry (Meredith 2019) such as cylinders and rectangles. These simple forms are an expansion upon MOS recent contrarianism towards smart geometries developed using the parametric tools once employed. Michael Meredith discusses this notion in a 2019 interview, in which he states smart geometry was the thing everyone talked about at the time, thats why we did it with just cubes, dumb geometry (Meredith, 2019). Furthermore, despite advancements in technology, MOS has continued to utilise drawing conventions that rebuke the corporate architectural aesthetic, opting for colourful drawings and atmospheric renderings.

In doing so, MOS creates architectural documents that appeal to a wider audience than simply architects and architectural students. There documents are easily read and understood spatially without a formal education in architecture. This is important not only to differentiate themselves as a practice, but also for the field of architecture itself, which has become reclusive from the input of the broader public, culminating in an industry that simultaneously criticises those who are successful financially while applauding those who merely criticise. An opinion shared by other architects also occupying the world of academia such as Andrew Kovacs, who stated in an interview recently that for some reason I think architects dont like things that are successful at the end of the day (Kovacs 2019).

Housing No.5 also raises questions regarding the validity of MOS claims to be the constantly unconventional (Meredith 2019) practice that they claim to be. When investigating the proposal documentation, the logistical requirements of the site and its brief had an enormous impact upon the overall proposal. MOS claims to be prioritising individuality through unique forms for each dormitory, however, when viewing the plan it becomes apparent that each dorm is identical in shape and volume, while enclosed common shared space is almost non-existent, a single room placed on the East-South corner. Further, MOS additionally claims to be establishing community (MOS 2016) and embedding nature (MOS 2016) via the continuous roof, penetrated by trees and divided by paths and gathering spaces. However, it could be argued this area would act as more of an extended awning over the site than a community gathering space. Finally, walking diagrams aim to articulate MOS consideration of the individual and their routine movement patterns throughout the site. Upon closer inspection, the movements have less to do with the design proposal and more to do with the proximity of the site to the remaining campus.

The key consideration when viewing these documents is not if the proposal adequately meets the brief while offering a pleasant environment for its occupants, which I believe it does. It is whether the identity MOS has established and advertised of themselves as an unconventional firm, both through the production of their own work and the criticisms of others, is clear to see architecturally. Or, if the architecture is conventional, are they simply utilising a representational and marketing aesthetic that works, to sustain a financially viable practice like any other. I would argue that while MOS is undoubtedly, historically unconventional, questioning representation, technological and academic conventions; they have had to establish structural mechanisms within their practice as they have grown like everyone else in order to remain viable, especially post the 2008 financial crises.

Why Prefabrication Is The Future of Architecture

16.10.2020 |A Discussion

Prefabricated housing is the future of Australian architecture. In Australia, prefabricated modular housing makes up only about 5 percent of the construction industry. Compared to European countries such as Sweden, where prefabricated modular housing makes up 70 percent of the construction industry, there is huge potential for this market.

Muji Hut - Prefabricated home designed by Muji. Image from Dezeen

The Main Types of Prefabrication

- Simple elements: Beams, columns or other parts of a structure that have been manufactured to be easily bolted into place onsite.

- Panelised systems: These are used for walls and include elements such as insulation, utilities, waterproofing and external and internal cladding. These components are designed to allow for rapid assembly and flat pack transportation.

- Volumetric systems: Three dimensional modular objects that comprise the floor, ceiling and wall components for a single room.

Why Would Prefabrication Benefit Australia?

The housing affordability crisis is already affecting many Australians who are struggling to buy their first homes. This in conjunction with rising costs and a lack of supply versus demand, prefabrication offers the best opportunity to provide affordable housing at scale. By reducing manufacturing costs, construction becomes both faster and cheaper.

The Additional Benefits

Emergency Housing and Infrastructure

Low-cost emergency housing can be produced in response to natural disasters and accommodation for currently homeless people. While prefabricated methods can also be utilised in future events like the COVID-19 pandemic to provide emergency testing and treatments facilities, helping to prevent overrun hospitals.


Prefabrication means a controlled environment. By producing the components within a factory to be simply assembled, many risks associated with the typical building site are removed; offering a safer work environment to tradespeople.


More planning means less wasted time and materials in the production process, again reducing costs. These savings can then be passed onto the owner or be invested into higher quality materials that provide better thermal performance and further reduce energy usage. Also, fabrication workshops can plan how to maximise recycling of any waste before the production process even begins.

Trade shortages and re-training

Currently there is a huge trade shortage in Australia, however, those currently working in manufacturing areas such as automotive manufacturing could be upskilled and apply their existing knowledge to prefabricated construction, offering more opportunities for employment and higher quality workmanship

Cedric Price - The Most Influential Architect You Have Never Heard Of

09.10.2020 |A Discussion

Over his half-century career in architecture, Cedric Price built few buildings, and fewer still fewer remain. As such, the legacy of Price is itself difficult to materialise. Snowdon Aviary and London Zoo are the last remaining significant built works of Prices that stand today. However, to those within the industry, his influence remains as present as any heritage listed site, impacting generations of architects. Some may even argue that, while not having his name on them, he has a vast array of built works throughout the world as his principles and ideas influenced those who created many iconic pieces of our built environment, Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers to name two.

The most famous of Cedric Prices work is without question, Fun Palace. The concept was initiated by Joan Littlewood, theatre director and founder of Theatre Workshop London. Ruairi Glynn describes the belief behind such a revolutionary concept in his 2005 article, stating the idea was to build a laboratory of fun with facilities for dancing, music, drama and fireworks. Central to Prices practice was the belief that through the correct use of new technology the public could have unprecedented control over their environment, resulting in a building which could be responsive to visitors needs and the many activities intended to take place there. As indicated by the above, the marketing material for the project was similarly utopian, choose what you want to do or watch someone else doing it. Learn how to handle tools, paint, babies, machinery, or just listen to your favourite tune. Dance talk or be lifted up to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting or just lie back and stare at the sky. Fun Palace was more than merely a utopian yet superficial vision. The design summarised the enigmatic and exuberant nature of Cedric Price. Cutting edge technology was being employed within the built environment in a whole new way, and as such, the role and significance of the architect was being changed. An open, steel structure with travelling cranes contained the architectural elements that were split into their parts, acting as a kit that could be endlessly altered and reconfigured to the whims of its inhabitants. Cinemas, restaurants, workshops, lounging spaces and just about anything else could be continuously arranged, scrapped, and re-arranged, resembling a large shipyard - Ruairi Glynn.

The philosophies behind Fun Palace are widely considered more revolutionary to the field of architecture than the design itself. Cedric Price had for the first time, broken the monotonous narrative of the genius architect, in round glasses and a turtle-neck jumper, dictating the urban environment all citizens dwell within. An unhealthy image of structural dictatorship closely related to another narrative of an industry comprised almost exclusively of privately educated, white men puffing cigars in a lecture theatre, of which Cedric Price was a part of. For the first time, the concept behind the building was dynamic, ever changing and at the control of its user. Further to this, the structural fabric was on display, proudly articulating the inner workings as a necessary tool for its use, rather than hidden away from public view. The world-famous Centre Georges Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, would utilize these concepts in built form; exposing the infrastructure of the building to maximize the interior space with no need for interior columns. Cedric Prices greatest achievement was one of provocation. He was more concerned with criticizing the accepted narratives of architecture, both philosophically and in his work, than producing buildings. This is never clearer than when reading a series of maxims Cedric Price wrote in a 1972 article for Pegasus. These statements encapsulate the mind of Cedric Price and his distaste for accepted normality’s of behavior within the industry.

It does not matter who designed the safety pin - we should just be delighted that they did - Price 1972.

The house is no longer acceptable as a pre-set ordering mechanism for family life. Housing is rapidly becoming a consumable commodity. This is a major motivational force in the individuals and familys use of the house - Price 1972

Why dont umbrellas disintegrate in sunshine – or at least grow in the rain? - Price 1972

The value of permanence must be proven, not merely assumed.- Price 1972

Central to the activital shortfall is the inability of architects and planners to concentrate with sufficient expertise on the environmental servicing of people.- Price 1972

How little need be done? should be the designers first question. Then perhaps we would no longer have to pay people to paint TURN LEFT underneath arrows on the roadway.- Price 1972

Shortage of time is likely to become an increasingly large element in the conscious design process: not merely in achieving a particular means but even in deciding whether there is time to bother designing such a means.- Price 1972

No one should be interested in the design of bridges – they should be concerned with how to get to the other side.- Price 1972

Passive Design - The Basics

02.10.2020 |A Discussion

Passive design is design that utilises the climate to maintain a comfortable temperature range within the home. This reduces the need for supplementary heating or cooling, which accounts for approximately 40% of energy use in the average Australian home. Passive design is most effective with active users that understand how the home is working in conjunction with the climate, and as such, know when to open or close windows or operate adjustable shading devices.

If you are designing a new home, or looking to renovate your existing one, passive house design is an essential consideration that can save you money, unnecessary carbon emissions and provide a more comfortable environment. We recommend using an expert in passive design; however, it is equally important you understand the principles being implemented so you can become an active user.

Glenn Murcutt's Palm Beach House - Photography by OZ.E.TECTURE


The orientation of your home on its site is the single most important aspect (design joke) to understanding your homes ability to take advantage of climatic features such as sun and cooling breezes. For example, facing north in most climates allows maximum exposure to the sun and shading of walls and windows in summer. Good orientation therefore improves solar access and reduces the need for auxiliary heating


Passive solar heating

Passive solar heating is the least expensive way to heat your home. Design for passive solar heating keeps out summer sun and lets in winter sun while ensuring that the building envelope keeps that heat inside in winter and allows any built-up heat to escape in summer. Orientation, thermal mass, sealing and other elements all contribute to the design of a house that benefits from passive solar heating.


Insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is essential for keeping your home warm in winter and cool in summer. It can also help with weatherproofing and soundproofing. A well-insulated home provides year-round comfort, cutting cooling and heating bills by up to half and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Climatic conditions determine the appropriate level of insulation as well as the most appropriate type to choose.


Glazed windows and doors bring in light and fresh air and offer views that connect interior living spaces with the outdoors. However, they can be a major source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Up to 40% of a homes heating energy can be lost and up to 87% of its heat gained through glazing. These thermal performance problems can be largely overcome by selecting the right glazing systems for your orientation and climate while considering the size and location of window openings in your design.


Skylights can make a major contribution to energy efficiency and comfort. They are an excellent source of natural light, allowing more than three times as much light as a vertical window of the same size, and can improve natural ventilation. However, they can be a major source of unwanted heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Factors to be considered when selecting from the many skylight options available include sizing and spacing (to control glare and heat gain), energy efficiency and appropriateness for climate.


Passive cooling

Similarly, passive cooling is the least expensive way to cool your home. To be effective, passive cooling techniques need to cool both the house and the people in it — with elements such as air movement, evaporative cooling, and thermal mass. Passive cooling design techniques can be applied to new homes as well as renovations, across a range of different climate zones


Shading of your house and outdoor spaces reduces temperatures. Shading can include eaves, window awnings, shutters, pergolas and plants. Shading of glass to reduce unwanted heat gain is critical, as unprotected glass is often the greatest source of heat gain in a house. However, poorly designed fixed shading can also block winter sun.


Sealing your home

Air leakage accounts for 15 to25 percent of winter heat loss in buildings. Sealing your home against air leaks is one of the simplest upgrades you can undertake to increase your comfort while reducing energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. Sealing your home can also create condensation and indoor air quality problems without appropriate ventilation.

Thermal mass

Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy. High density materials such as concrete, bricks and tiles have high heat storage capacity and are therefore high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass. Thermal mass moderates indoor temperatures by averaging day−night temperature extremes by absorbing excess hat energy throughout the day and releasing it at night as the temperature cools.

Reading Reviews

25.09.2020 |A Discussion

This week, we are doing seven, short reviews of some influential books and articles by both architects and critics. We suggest you copy the title and give these a read yourself, well worth it. Architecture is critical to everyone, and we think it's important everyone has an opinion on our urban environment and those shaping it. Let us know what you think.

Berlin: A Green Archipelago - Ungers O. M. and Rem Koolhaas. The City in the City. Berlin: A Green Archipelago. Zurich: Lars Muller Publishers (2013), 10-25

A Green Archipelago is a concept proposal that will act as the driver behind the urban environment of Berlin during a period of controlled urban density decrease. The manifesto rebukes the concept of more construction offering the city primordial state. Instead, Ungers and Koolhaas suggest dismantling malfunctioning parts of the city, to weed out the substandard. This would render the remaining buildings as an archipellago, in a green lagoon of nature. By fragmenting the city in this way, the outcome of urban density decrease is achieved will retaining the components of the city that offer clear benefit to the urban users. However, the concern with this notion should be the questions of who and what is the definition of substandard. This is a subjective term, and as such, it vulnerable to a potentially dictatorial implementation from those tasked.

Vittorio Aureli, P. - Working on the ruins of superdutch: a comment on the work of metahaven POA. London: Bedford Press, 43-48

Pier Vittorio dissects the work of Metahaven while proposing that creativity has evolved from a weapon of counter-cultural movement deployed against social conformism, to a fundamental asset of capitalist development. Vittorio affirms his claims by exploring the work of Metahaven, specifically, their investigation into the dystopian fall-out of the neo-liberal economy. Vittorio suggests that Metahaven have articulated the way identity, incarnated as branding, is a fundamental asset of post-Fordist political economy. Vittorio does not discuss the possibility that design has always been a fundamental asset to both politics and economy, nor does he attempt to ration why design cannot occupy both the role of a counter-culture and an economic necessity synchronically.

If you behave like an idiot, youve got to take responsibility about it - Legislating architecture. Zurich: Edition Patrick Frey (2016), 335-42

Arno Brandlbuher and Tom Emerson discuss the English legal system, predominantly common law, and its impact upon British cultural progression. They discuss this idea architecturally and describe how it has defined British cities in comparison with European cities. Specific examples of the impact of common law are mentioned, with Tom stating if youve been enjoying certain rights, like the right to light, you have the right to that piece of sky, even if the land beside it isnt yours. Tom and Arno discuss how this has prevented the progression of differing views to how the urban environment should be planned and designed in Britain. The discussion then discusses Tort law, that essentially defines your responsibility as a citizen and the potential to be punished for essentially acting like an idiot.

Kersten Geers - Perfectly fine for Mies

The Seagram Building symbolizes the nuance and difficulty in critiquing modern architecture and the subsequent alienation of the public from the discussion altogether. As large-scale globalization occurred, modern architecture such as The Seagram Building began synthesizing formal principles from varying cultures. As such, the distinction of good architecture became subjective. Mr Jencks and Geers exemplify this subjectivity, describing the rear of the building as botched and indecisive Geers, and a perfect example of European contextualism Jencks. This lack of objectivity has caused indifference among common people, abandoning the urban environment to be discussed only by academics. Consequently, causing a Emperors New Clothes Effect Osborn 2020, in which those without the distinction of Architect obviously cannot see or simply dont understand the true complexity of modern architecture.

Küng, Moritz - Is there such as a thing as Belgian Surrealism? Certainly, to convince yourself all you need to do is to the nearest post office! 2G Architecten De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, No. 66. (2013), 14-18.

Mortiz Küng uses this article to discuss the architectural obsession with airbrushing away the banal but necessary components of architecture. An industry obsessed with self-aggrandizement, architects embarrassment to utilise the components of structure themselves is obvious with most modern buildings hiding away all remnants of function such as plumbing or roofing. Küng articulates the beauty of working with real objects to create a new reality as he references the paintings of Rene Margritte, most notably, LEmpire des lumieres. The purpose of the architect is not to hide the ugly reality of buildings and glorify the shiny; it is instead to take familiar elements and principles and articulate them in a contextually and spatially relevant way that creates a new reality

Colin Rowe - letter to the Harvard Architectural Review (1986), published as Letter: On Precedent and Invention, in Colin Rowe, As I Was Saying: Reflections and Miscellaneous Essays, Alexander Caragonne (ed.), volume two, Cornelliana (Cambridge, Mass. and London: The MIT Press, 1996), 367-370.

Colin Rowes letter to the Harvard Architecture Review is a commentary on the misunderstanding of the creative process. He discusses his inability to comprehend how anyone can begin to act without resorting to precedent Rowe. Architecture is complex, not complicated. There are no defined or unique solutions; nor should there be. As such, each project should be the distillation of precedent and experimentation organised within its context. This more scientific approach to design does not void architecture of its subjectivity or creativity, it merely clarifies the design process like that of musical composition.

Bruther - Nexus. 99 Notes. A eulogy of machine buildings framing the disorder 2G, No. 76 (2017), 141-159

99 Notes provides a pocketbook lexicon that covers the roles of flexibility, the vernacular and the machine within architecture, while also making poignant points about the role of architecture itself. Defining the architectural machine as both an extension of the body and recreates a world within itself articulates the paradox and fluidity of the architectural machine . This paradox is reflective of the paradoxes of contemporary urbanity. 99 Notes acts as a reminder to architects to question the relevance of their work while enforcing that architecture is useful , never finished and shared knowledge.

Food Truck Architecture - A Micro-Urban Phenomena

18.09.2020 |A Discussion


Food trucks are a unique architectural component of our urban and suburban environment that establish diversity and culture, offer necessary amenities and encourage economic growth. However, their ongoing role within the urban environment is questionable and as such this essay explores the possibilities of transient architecture Osborn 2019, to disperse the barrier between urban and suburban environments while exploring the reciprocal relationship between food trucks and urban actors Jane Jacobs 1961.

What is a food truck?

In order to begin to understand the role and impact of food trucks within the urban environment we must first define what we consider to be a food truck. A food truck is a moveable vehicle equipped to sell food. This definition is important as it highlights a key component of how food trucks interact with the urban environment, via transportation. The architecture of a food truck is unique due to its spatial considerations and the necessity for renovation. Common features of a food truck include a hinged window to allow for customer interaction and the secure lockdown of the vehicle while in transit, two large benchtop spaces along either side of the vehicle to allow the staff, generally 2, to operate back to back. Movement reduction is paramount in the spatial considerations of the food truck and as such all necessary appliances remain underneath or on top of the benchtops within arms reach. Other architectural features of food trucks commonly found include durable, no-slip, inflammable floors such as laminate or vinyl; Ventilation, usually attained via roof vents in addition to windows and emergency exits. Easy access to inventory and the minimisation of movement are the key considerations within the architecture of a food truck, as such, these architectural considerations are designed generally with stations in consideration. Food truck operators commonly separate the preparation process of their food into stations, acting like a factory line. By reducing the food preparation into components, each staff member has a zone within the food truck within which they complete a singular or potentially dual tasks. For example, a doughnut producing food truck in Melbourne has two operators either side of the food truck; the first operator shapes the batter and places it into the deep fryer, while the second, removes the batter and serves the customer. This set up is the most common found among all food trucks, as it solves the logistical issues associated with preparing and serving food within a small space while maximising efficiency of production. However, within this framework, the architecture of each food truck in unrecognizable from the other. This is due to two main considerations. Firstly, no two food trucks prepare the exact same food; food truck and culture are simultaneous, and as such, every burger, poke bowl, salad etc are somewhat different and require different preparation. This factor impacts the tools, machinery, appliances, size of containers, product longevity and more; resulting in an entirely unique layout for each food truck. The ramifications of this extend further and establish the second unique component of food truck architecture, the necessity for renovation. As previously mentioned, each food truck follows a specific formula, but the individual components are entirely unique every time. As such, it is impossible to produce a vehicle that could serve this vary array of needs or be customisable enough to adapt to the user without impeding the mentioned process of production imperative to speed and mitigation of movement in order to serve customers rapidly. While the topic of food truck architecture is widely un-studied, it is noticeable unique yet formulaic with numerous intelligent spatial considerations included.

Food Trucks, The Urban Environment and People

Food trucks are unique from an architectural standpoint due to the transient nature of their interaction with the urban environment and the persistently changing manner by which the urban environment both impacts and is impacted by its urban context. Many of the common means by which we analyse how a building interacts with urban actors (Jane Jacobs 1961) can be utilised when observing the role of food trucks within the urban compared to the suburban context. When in a stationary state, food trucks have a reciprocal relationship with their broader environment. The first example of this is the role of a food truck within a suburban environment. Generally, a food truck will be prevalent within a suburban environment during times of events and activities, most prominently in Australia, festivals. During festivals, numerous food trucks are provided with a designated zone, establishing an almost cordoned area by which the urban actors will have a prolonged interaction with the wider cordoned zone of the food truck, a space generally decided upon by the coordinators of the festival to be far away from the main performance areas, either on flat ground or atop a hill as to keep the congestion away from places of high movement volume. Due to the long-term stagnancy of this situation, benches or simply grassed areas in front of the food trucks will become entirely spaces of consumption. While the users interaction with the food truck itself is minimal due to the rapid production level, the following interaction is prolonged. Users will collect their food, find a space in front of the food truck with numerous other actors and consume their food in this zone. This interaction significantly impacts the urban environment causing congestion, noise and waste. Likewise, this symbiotic relationship also impacts the food vendor; huge lines and a demand for further increased production times are necessary while also being highly profitable due to the scarcity of alternate food options. The often-remote nature of these events also ensures the food truck must always be capable of housing enough produce to meet these requirements, despite regularly operating at a level far lower. In comparison, when analysing the reciprocal relationship between food trucks and the urban environment, the length of the interaction between user and vendor is greatly reduced, along with overall volume. The most notable impact on this is the City of Sydneys restricted areas and exclusion zones, generally excluding food trucks from operating on main streets, instead pushing them to off streets. This, in conjunction with the expanded volume of food vendors via restaurants and delivery services, along with the initial start- costs associated with food trucks, drastically impacts the financial viability of food truck ownership due to the limited potential interactions with urban actors. Misha Ketchells 2019 article titled Kebab Urbanism, Melbournes other cafes makes the city a more human place, outlines the severity to which the urban environment and food trucks share a reciprocal relationship as he investigates kebab vans and their role filling a void within the urban context of Melbourne, a city with far less restrictions upon the operating spaces and hours of food trucks within the city. Misha Ketchell describes the loud, inaccessible and unpleasant areas in which these kebab vans operate proliferated throughout the city, often filling the space of day-time businesses by utilising driveways and parking spots full only hours earlier. This concept of a semi-permanent interaction is entirely unique to food trucks and vans, while synchronically providing an alternate means of income for day-time businesses. Further to this, Misha explores the cultural prowess of these kebab vans, labelling them local icons that offer an alternative to the spread of generic urbanism as they operate across many different spaces and spectrums – ranging from the car to the pedestrian, temporary to permanent, formal to informal. Finally, it is important to consider the negative interaction food trucks have with the broader urban environment. Due to the roaming nature of food truck architecture, fuel and waste have a significant detrimental impact upon the broader environment. Returning to the necessity for renovation, food trucks solely utilise inefficient, petrol or diesel reliant vehicles to operate within, having a significant negative impact upon the environment. Food trucks also have varying degrees of food wastage, dependant upon the level of user-interaction on any given day in accordance with the previously mentioned requirement of potential high user interaction. This volatile economic marketplace can lead to numerous occasions of significant food waste. Overall, it is clear that ,within the correct urban environment, food trucks can have a significant and beneficial impact on the broader urban environment, establishing alternative means of both main and residual income for operators and land owners while acting as diverse cultural pop up zones, expanding the cities ethnic diversity while providing a reasonably low cost entrepreneurial enterprise for operators, most notably migrants.

The Future of Food Truck Architecture

Food trucks saw an increase in popularity over the past 10 years, however, they have recently seen a significant decrease due to the evolution of alternate food-based architectures. The most notable of these include food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber-Eats. These services reduce the required architecture of providing food to urban actors to zero. Utilising the existing infrastructure of cars, bicycles and the actors themselves, existing restaurants can provide the same service benefits to the broader urban context with no associated costs, no running costs all while retaining the residual income. Further to this, actors can also participate in the process, utilising their spare time to generate revenue with no requirement for training or investment. The popularity of these services is directly in conjunction with the decline of food trucks serving the urban environment. As a result of this, the future architecture of food trucks is likely to be rendered exclusively to event-based activities. This has numerous detrimental and beneficial ramifications. Firstly, the uprising of internet based, sharing economy platforms to provide goods and services offers an entirely new and immediate source of income for urban actors; with no set-up costs or designated hours, the potential for people to earn an income immediately has significant benefit to low-income peoples, most notably migrant communities. Alternatively, when examining the research compiled during this analysis, it is apparent to me that there is the potential for a combination in these architectures that may be mutually beneficial while reducing the negative associations of both. Nigel Bertram and Leon van Schaiks; Suburbia Reimagined explores the potential for sub-division structures to offer new possibilities for sustainably integrating generations between established and arriving migrant communities. The authors advocate for the repurposing of malls and railways to cul-de-sacs and social units, to provide a rich life for all age groups and assist the growing disparity in amenities provided to suburban environment. These spaces occupy the same, previously mentioned, existing fabric of the urban environment so commonly utilised by food trucks and vans after day-time businesses, Misha Ketchell 2019, close. By renovating these areas in accordance with the proposal of Nigel Bertram and Leon van Schaik, it would be possible to additionally incorporate the usage of driveways and parking spots Ketchell 2019, by food trucks in order to offer more night time activities and food based services to suburban areas, synchronically, establishing an additional, and regular, means of income for food truck businesses. By incorporating food trucks in this manner, delivery services that currently do not service these suburban regions due to distance and/or minimal restaurants would be able to. This would generate an alternate source of income of suburban regions, predominantly composed of lower-income individuals including migrants and young people. Furthermore, by welcoming this notion of Transient Architecture Osborn 2019, the dependency upon large scale investment and re-development of the suburban architecture would be minimised, as existing architecture would utilise for both daytime and night-time activities. Finally, the environmental impacts of this separation between suburban and urban would be minimised, reducing the need for food trucks to follow the crowds, while simultaneously offering more amenities to suburban actors Jacobs 1961, reducing the necessity for travel to the urban centers.


Food trucks play a significant role in providing diverse and small-scale cultural experiences to both the urban and suburban areas of the broader environment. Their role within the community is imperative due to the uniqueness of their transient architecture, allowing them to serve both urban and suburban regions, establishing and/or benefiting existing cultural activities and events. This is especially important in Sydney, as night-time activity and the overall night-time economy has reduced significantly, resulting in severe backlash from the broader public that occupy these urban areas. However, despite the uniqueness of food truck architecture and its impact upon the broader environment, economic innovation and legislative action are significantly impeding their role within the city. It is therefore necessary to make changes to these factors in order to reinvigorate the food truck architecture or consider intelligent design alternatives to ensure their cultural and economic relevance remains for years to come.

Sydney vs Melbourne - The Grid

11.09.2020 |A Discussion

The debate between Sydney and Melbourne is a never-ending one, but there's one thing I keep hearing about from both sides, the grid. Melburnians complain about getting lost in Sydney when they visit and Sydneysiders rave about the convenience and efficiency of the grid when they visit Melbourne. Today I want to investigate the grid, is it really efficient? and do we still use it?

History of The Grid

The grid system of urban planning dates back thousands of years, but Melbourne's was developed by Robert Hoddle in March 1837. The streets and blocks are very large, however, have been broken down over time as real estate demands have increased. This is the first major benefit of a gridded system, it's adaptable. As Melbourne's grid has been broken down, inner-block systems like the famous laneways and arcades have developed. These prominent features break up the monotony associated with pure gridded systems, which alongside the walkability of the grid, create a pedestrian-friendly urban environment. In contrast, conflicts between NSW Government and Sydney City Council resulted in a laissez-faire urban strategy up until The City of Sydney Strategic Plan (1971–1983) and Central Sydney Strategy (1988), establishing stronger infrastructure and transportation links across the city.

Efficient or Not?

Grids are considered universally efficient, however, this is true in some cases and not so true in others. From a pedestrian perspective, grids are incredibly efficient and convenient. They offer pedestrians ready-access to any area within the city and simple orientation from where they are currently to where they are going. However, they are not nearly as efficient for cars. Due to the number of intersections throughout a gridded city such as Melbourne, traffic speed is reduced drastically. Further, accidents are more common, although less fatal due to the decreased speed. In conjunction with this water management is far less efficient, with less than 40% of available land area being permeable. As such, significantly more infrastructure needs to be in place to handle heavy rain, along with generally less green spaces. The above reasons are why the grid plan was adapted over time.

The Car

the industrial revolution brought with it the invention of the car and huge increases in city populations. As a result, the previously mentioned inadequacies of the gridded system became clear and the desire to 'live in the country, work in the city' grew. As such, developed established new urban strategies in suburban environments, with fewer intersections, more green spaces, and cul-de-sacs to remove street frontage and create more privacy. All of this was possible, and desired, thanks to the car. This typical suburban design is heavily reliant upon cars, however, does offer its residents certain benefits when implemented correctly.


While it's impossible to determine which strategy is better as this depends greatly on the needs of the city, it's people, the quality of execution, and more. A huge benefit of the grid system, in the long run, is its adaptability. However, it is also clear that the grid, if implemented, needs to be broken down carefully to provide adequate green space and 'liveable' qualities to prevent monotony and isolation.

Andrew Kovacs - How this architect is re-thinking our cities

04.09.2020 |A Discussion

This essay investigates the work of Andrew Kovacs and argues for its potential impact upon the built environment, architectures ability to establish a broader audience and the transparency of the architectural process.