School of Architecture

Thursday 18 May 2017

Professor Sandra Kaji-O'Grady, Dean

This month my colleague Dr Kelly Greenop posted to Instagram an image of herself in front of the railway bridge over Breakfast Creek with the comment “Love this kind of job!”. Minutes earlier, Dr Greenop had been hanging from the structure, while using the School’s digital scanning tools to gather accurate data on the bridge’s current physical form and condition. Adventuresome work for a historian, it involved training in heights, something I could never do.

At UQ’s Fryer Library, in the last month, the Environment and Heritage Protection Minister, and National Parks and Great Barrier Reef Minister, the Honourable Steven Miles, opened a new online architectural research tool that allows researchers to locate a specific architect and track their career.

Also in April, Dr Greenop co-convened with Dr Chris Landorf the first conference on Digital Heritage at the State Library of Queensland. Local and international delegates came to share their research and discuss the ways in which digital technologies are transforming our ability to record, analyse, archive, interpret, and share information about the material past. Several pointed out that the technologies they are using also have a history, and the materials produced through them—the Instagram account for example—will become historical evidence for future researchers, if we can work out how to curate and keep them. That’s something libraries like the Fryer are struggling with. We know how long different kinds of paper last in specific atmospheric conditions but who knows for how long Instagram will continue, or how a future historian will negotiate through the photographs of amusing felines to find what they are looking for? Certainly, it’s an interesting time to be an architectural historian.

New tools like the Zebedee scanner have seen renewed interest in architectural heritage amongst our students and they’ve been eager to enrol in the Adaptive Capacities design course in the Master of Architecture. This semester students in the Adaptive Capacities course are developing visions for the Tower Mill Hotel, a late modernist building designed by Fulton Trotter in 1964 that many probably didn’t previously think of as heritage. I’m looking forward to seeing their designs at ‘Crit Week’ in the last week of June. To echo DrGreenop, “Love this kind of job!” - you’re welcome to join us then and see what our students across all the design courses and years have been up to.