School of Architecture


Wednesday 16 October 2019 11:30am to 1:00pm


Room 51-207
Zelman Cowen Building (51) 
The University of Queensland
St Lucia QLD 4072


Registrations for this event are now closed

Presenter: Shane Sugrue

Infrastructures of Ritual: Festival architecture & the transformative potential of participatory design

‘Festivalisation’ has been described as a neoliberal phenomenon that co-opts art and culture in the name of ‘place-making’. This strategically serves the interests of capital by aiding the expansion of the property market and fuelling gentrification. In Brisbane, this can be seen in the proliferation of temporary arts events, laneways ‘activations’, and street festivals that has accompanied the city’s self-declared transition from ‘big country town’ to New World City. However, festivals and other cultural events have also long served as drivers of civic engagement and catalysts of radical political action. Participating in their production is often a transformative experience for participants, empowering people to exercise creative agency and work collaboratively towards shared goals. I argue that this ultimately equips communities to advocate for more equitable and sustainable approaches to planning and development. 

Examining a recent project at Modifyre, an annual event produced by Brisbane-based arts organisation BURN Arts Inc and held near Inglewood in southeast Queensland, I outline an approach to design practice that seeks to enact this type of participation. Like architecture, festivals transform physical space in order to set forth shared imaginaries of both past and future. Their construction serves as a form of collective ritual by which our mythologies of place and identity are formed and thus can be challenged. Thus, using the methods of architectural design to unpack the social, material and spatial dimensions of these transformative events, I ask the question: what is the infrastructure of ritual?


Image Credit: Thomas Oliver



Please direct all enquiries about this event to:

Bernard Llanos
+61 7 3365 3537