Queer space is a term that has recently rerisen in popularity in the architectural profession. So, what’s up with queer space? How can we make buildings safer and symbolic for the LGBTQI+ community? And the big one: How do we challenge the world view that heterosexuality is the norm in how we construct the world? Sibling’s Timothy Moore and Nicholas Braun recently wrote about the conception of queer space in their review of the Victorian Pride Centre in the January 2022 issue of Architecture Australia. These musings developed from Sibling’s experience working on a shortlisted entry for the Victorian Pride Centre with BKK Architects.
Read the review below:
The making of “queer space”: Victorian Pride Centre
“On 24 May 2016, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews stood in front of the state parliament to deliver a historic apology for a law that had made homosexual acts punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 15 years up until 1980. He noted, “It is the first responsibility of a government to keep people safe. But the government didn’t keep LGBTI people safe.” This was a watershed year for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) rights in Victoria. Along with the apology, pledging to continue the Safe Schools program, and granting adoption rights to same-sex couples, the Victorian government committed $15 million dollars to build Australia’s first purpose-built Pride Centre as a symbol of the freedom of expression and diversity of LGBTIQ+ communities.
A two-stage competition was organized in 2017 to create this landmark project in Melbourne’s seaside suburb of St Kilda in the City of Port Phillip. Brearley Architects and Urbanists (BAU) and Grant Amon Architects (GAA) won the commission for their design that, as competition jury chair Dimity Reed stated, “promises to provide a building with a memorable and exuberant identity.” With the spectre of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey looming over the competition throughout 2017, an “exuberant” building to champion the rights and freedoms of LGBTIQ+ communities felt as urgent as ever.”
Completed in 2021, the Victorian Pride Centre holds – within its 6,200 square metres – symbolic and safe space for members of the LGBTIQ+ communities. It achieves this by providing tenancies for a spectrum of civic organizations alongside co-working, commercial and cultural spaces. In giving form to this rainbow coalition, BAU and GAA avoid tropes of LGBTIQ+ representation. A game of subtraction unapologetically drives their architectural approach, with extruded ellipses, or tubes, punched through the maximum building volume on one axis across the 58-metre-deep site. (The positioning of the precast concrete columns, arches and blade walls that mark the extracted tubes is regulated by the practical force of the carparking grid below.) Echoing the ornamental arches marking St Kilda’s faded palatial hotels and pleasurescapes – including Luna Park, Catani Arch and the Esplanade Vaults – the ellipses are a sign that the architects know this raffish neighbourhood well (they live and work here). The holey game, read in the Fitzroy Street facade, also shouts difference.
Read the full article at ArchitectureAu