The Ephemeral Laboratory, a design studio developed by Lynda and Ceri within the School of Architecture & Design (Interior Design) at RMIT University, investigated pop-up and temporal design as a platform to encourage a range of engagements within the public realm. The studio acted as a live laboratory using the RMIT City Campus as a representation of the broader city context of Melbourne. Here students conducted hypothetical and real (1:1 scale) experiments that explored the relationship between the individual, the city and temporal spaces; insertions; overlays and events.


“In the current debate over the use of public space in cities, temporary uses are seen as tools of empowerment: revealing the possibilities of space.” from Temporary Urban Spaces.


Project: 24/7 was the first in a series of hands-on experiments where a temporal device was inserted, overlayed or attached to a part of the built fabric of RMIT Building 8 and observed over time.


onsite testing


Project: Conversation Booth investigated how temporal spaces could be created to enable social interaction via a full scale built structure. Facilitated by artist provocateur Neil Thomas, this experiment required students to design, construct and inhabit a temporal device within the public spaces of RMIT and measure it’s success as an engaging &/or interactive experience.



The Cardboard House: Jonathan Ong and Beth Mann


The aim of the studio was to develop a process, language and a conceptual underpinning for a temporal practice that could engage the community in which it was situated. Culminating in the final design project, students were asked to critically examine an aspect of the RMIT City campus within either a commodified, cultural or civic context and develop a proposition for a hypothetical and temporal design response, building on existing social relationships.



Project outcomes: Com-ver-gat-ion, Gavin Ho. Reels on Wheels. Jacquie Holland. 40,608 Identities, Kate Brinn.


The final project challenged students to question the social and spatial amenities provided by the educational institution of RMIT University and to feel empowered to offer alternatives within an environment they had assumed was beyond their control.




The studio concluded with a one night ‘pop-up’ exhibition and walking tour open to the public and the RMIT community showcasing hypothetical possibilities for the RMIT City Campus. Each design proposal was presented as an installation, located at each student’s selected site, using innovative and participatory methods to convey their ideas.




Developing the conceptual framework for this studio offered Public Assembly the chance to explore their design methodology. In particular, the shifts between the urban, campus, room and object scales of operation and applying these modes within an intensive 14 week project. It also allowed Lynda and Ceri the opportunity to develop teaching tools to impart this design methodology to other designers. The most powerful of these tools was the creation an unfettered zone for play and experimentation via hands-on workshops and the engagement of external practitioners as collaborators to share their knowledge within this context.



Student Participants: Kate Brinn, Liz Grimmer, Greta Mak, Adrian Preman, Lauren Hunt, Yvonne How, Hamish Adamson, Marissa Kefalianos, Alice Wensor, Jonathan Ong, Alex Brown, Yangzi Li, Angela Neylon, Charlotte Dethick, Jacquie Holland, Ashleigh Rye, Gavin Ho, Ana Garcia, Beth Mann.  Guest Provocateurs: Neil Thomas, Erin Ender. Subject Coordinator: Roger Kemp.