Design Activism

Subject ABPL90371 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2015.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 40 contact hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Environments and Design Student Centre

Ground Floor, Baldwin Spencer (building 113)

Enquiries Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)



Subject Overview:

This elective subject will explore the dynamics and effectiveness of architecture in relation to the politics of protest. It will link together concepts from critical theory, community development, and urban futures with architectural design. To do this the subject will use contemporary case studies to explore the relationship of architectural design to different forms of activism and protest. These case studies will include perspectives from both international and local case studies, and students will be encouraged to develop their own international perspectives. Case studies will include the Occupy movement, Anonymous and other modes of civil disobedience, as well as local case studies including the East-West link and anti Coal Seam Gas protests.

Through this subject students will research how architectural propositions can change the way we protest and the way we respond to protests and protestors. The subject will bring together various ABP academics and practitioners involved in the interfaces between alternative architecture, protest and the contradictions of power in relation to urban infrastructures.

Learning Outcomes:

To understand and articulate different theories and histories of political protest in relation to contemporary urbanism.

To articulate the potential of architectural design as a way to propose alternative futures in situations, where power, community interests and civil disobedience engender both potential and actual conflict.

To understand the lifecycle of protests and campaigning including: cultural preparation, organisation building, non-violent confrontation, mass non-cooperation and the development of parallel institutions.

To propose strategies, plans, designs and tactics that incorporate architectural design into contemporary protest movements.


Case study (including class presentation 10% and seminar report 30%). To be done in a group of 3 or 4, 1500-2000 word equivalent per student. Due day 5 of 6 day Intensive) 40%.

Design activism proposition: to include diagrams, drawings and timeline and text (including class presentation 10% and seminar report 40%). To be done in a group of 3 or 4. 2500 word equivalent per student. Due day 6 of 6 day Intensive. 50%

Class Participation Due days 1 to 6. 10%

Prescribed Texts:

Timothy Gee, Counterpower. New Internationalist 2011

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

The ability to think strategically at different environmental and urban scales.

The ability to establish and evaluate requirements and priorities in new project situations and contexts.

The ability to work individually and collaboratively to prepare and deliver a design project.

The ability to prepare, structure, schedule, evaluate and deliver a substantial research or design-research project.

Related Course(s): Master of Architecture
Master of Architecture
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point Master of Architecture
300 point Master of Architecture
Melbourne School of Design multidisciplinary elective subjects

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