Relationscapes 2


Relation-scapes: Spaces of Encounter, Emotion and Exchange. A teaching collaboration between Lynda Roberts (Public Assembly) and Caroline Vains.


Building on the Interventionist Guide to Melbourne project, this interior design studio examined the relational and emotional context of Melbourne Central Shopping Centre with the intention of designing, constructing and testing a series of tactical interventions on site and at 1:1 scale. As part of the broader Department of Counter Culture project, the Relation-scapes studio occupied a vacant shop within Melbourne Central for the duration of the semester. This space was transformed into a workshop, observatory, incubator, laboratory, platform and studio headquarters – extending our design experiments out into the mall when required.


Students began by investigating how we encounter other people, places and things in this highly instrumental and surveilled retail environment and then designed, performed and constructed interventions with a view to enabling face-to-face encounters and exchanges of a different sort – exchanges that were relational, emotional and empathic. With the exception of the final project, all designs were built, occupied and tested at full scale in the shopping centre itself with remarkable outcomes.


Medium Picnic v4

MEDIUM PICNIC: using the shopping bag as a medium. Picnic blanket; Oxygen bag: Jessica Wood & Emily Parker; Immersive projection: Danah Gochman


PROJECT ONE | filters: relational politics


Students in groups of three or four observed, documented, revealed and represented the relational and emotional context and politics of Melbourne Central. This was presented as part of a one-night exhibition: Medium Picnic at  Open Space Gallery, Melbourne.

Project 1v2

Connector garment: Lingas Tran, Ainslie Herbert and Phoebe Baker-Gabb. Escalator [re]Action: Danah Gochman, Krystal Rawnson and Sarah Rowley

The second part of this project entailed the same group to design, construct, perform and document a small scale intervention based on their initial site analysis.


Relationscapes video


PROJECT TWO | tactics: emotional tactics

Students were asked to design, construct and perform or occupy a medium scale tactical intervention in the mall that enabled a face-to-face emotional encounter or exchange.  Mothers Day was factored in as a seasonal retail promotion occurring in the mall during the project.



Quick Sew: Lingas Tran, Ainslie Herbert and Phoebe Baker-Gabb. Street Blog: Jess Wood and Emily Parker. Swap Shop: Stephanie Chan.


PROJECT THREE | relational strategies

As the final studio project, individual students were asked to present a hypothetical proposal for a relational environment to be sited somewhere specific in Melbourne Central.


Counter Point

Counter Point  | 2010 State of Design. Ticket Reallocation Society: Jessica Wood. Quick Sew: Lingas Tran, Ainslie Herbert and Phoebe Baker-Gabb



As part of the 2010 State of Design Festival, Counter Point was the public culmination of workshops and studios undertaken within Melbourne Central by the Department of Counter Culture. Located within Lonsdale Street pedestrian walkway, Relation-scapes presented a curated selection of student outcomes that exemplified face-to-face exchange that were relational and empathic rather than commodified.



Student Participants: Phoebe Baker-Gabb, Yi Ding, Danah Gochman, Ainslie Herbert, Yi Lin Miao, Emily Parker, Krystal Rawnson, Sarah Rowley, Ping Tiang, Lingas Tran, Jessica Wood, Dom Bunnag, Stephanie Chan, Kerr He, Michelle Lim, Jenny Nguyen, Rahul Pereira


Thanks to: Steven Borin, Carolyn Hughes, Georgina Tulloch, Tess OConnell and Emily Pedersen from GPT | Melbourne Central for making this project possible and for their ongoing support.


* Relation-scapes is taken from Erin Manning’s new publication