Chaos & Fertility: Tapestry Sampling

We are so thrilled to see these recent samples from the Australian Tapestry Workshop of Pop Architecture and Hotham Street Ladies’ winning tapestry design ‘Chaos and Fertility.’
We cannot wait to collaborate further with the team at ATW to make this tapestry a reality.

Photography: Jeremy Weihrauch & Pop Architecture

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Looking Back: The Gipson Commons

It was great to see The Gipson Commons forming part of Melbourne Open House 2019. Justine was Project Architect on this project during her time at Architectus and loved working on this innovative, education project alongside St. Michael’s Grammar School.

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Project Details

Architect: Architectus
Project Name: The Gipson Commons, St. Michael’s Grammar School
Role: Justine Brennan, Project Architect
Building Type: Educational
Status: Completed 2016
Photo Credit: Ian Davidson / Architectus

Design Details

St. Michael’s Grammar School presented the metaphor of ‘Spaces for Possibilities’ as part of their educational brief, which was translated into a spatial environment which encourages creativity through a collection of connected and varied learning spaces; a commons. A multi-storey teaching and learning development that successfully blends science, technology and library curriculum by creating different types of space that can be used for a multitude of functions.   

These different spaces take the form of smaller pavilions (acoustically isolated, structural, private) within larger bookable spaces (collaborative, social, open), allowing for informal learning to occur in the spaces between.

As Project Architect, Justine was responsible for the full project delivery of The Gipson Commons from inception to completion over a 5 year period (2011 – 2016) and played an integral part in the Revit documentation and consultant coordination on the project. This included early involvement with various stakeholder groups in the establishment of the school’s brief for the building, as well as facilitating user group consultation with both staff and student groups throughout the design process.


- Australian Institute of Architects: National Interior Architecture Award - Commendation. 2017
- Australian Institute of Architects (VIC), Interior Architecture Award - Award, 2017
- Association for Learning Environments Australasia, An Education Initiative/ Design Solution for an Innovative Program, Commendation, 2016
- Association for Learning Environments Australasia, Educational Facility Planning Awards (VIC): New Individual Facility, Commendation, 2016
- Australian Timber Design Awards, Timber Panels, 2016

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Mpavilion: Mtalks - Tapestry x Architecture

On collaboration in tapestry and architecture

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Pop Architecture and Hotham Street Ladies discuss their winning entry to the 2018 Tapestry Design Prize for Architects as part of the MPavilion summer program.

A playful and interactive workshop immerses the audience into scenes from the winning design, Chaos and Fertility, through life-sized textile vignettes that visually transform their design into its intended scale. The workshop also encourages participants to learn the basics of weaving on an Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) community loom.  

A panel discussion led by leading architect Peter Williams, sees ATW weaver Chris Cochius, the Hotham Street Ladies and Pop Architecture deliberate about how tapestries engage with space and place, and the importance of collaboration between the ATW with living architects, designers and artists. 

These themes are also discussed in an interview with Cassandra Chilton (HSL), Katherine Sainsbery (Pop) and Angie Rehe on Triple R’s Summer Smartarts.
To hear Pop Architecture and the Hotham Street Ladies on RRR at 01:58:00, click here.

For more on our winning tapestry entry, click here.

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Christmas in the Bubble

A relaxed industry networking event organised by Pop Architecture to see out the year with other Fitzroy and Collingwood based architects and creatives, and share a story or two.


Looking Back: Regional Rail Link (RRL)

As Melbourne undergoes it’s current infrastructural developments, we reflect back on Katherine’s involvement as project architect on the Regional Rail Link project during her time at Wood / Marsh Architecture.  


Project Details

Architect: Wood / Marsh Architecture
Project Name: Regional Rail Link - Package B
Role: Katherine Sainsbery, Project Architect
Building Type: Urban Design & Infrastructure
Status: Completed 2014
Photo Credit: Christian Pearson / Misheye

Design Details

This Urban Design provides a carefully considered and high-quality visual enhancement to the rail corridor.

The design pays homage to the impressive craft and engineering of the existing rail infrastructure and considers the adjacent environment to the site, with particular attention given to the inherent texture, materials and colours of the built form and landscape.

As Project Architect, Katherine led the urban design team during the winning bid phase, through to project completion, three years later. This involved working as part of large teams, participating in and leading stakeholder community engagement workshops, and managing the expectations and priorities of the various stakeholder groups including urban design panels, maintenance panels and train driver representatives. Additions to scope of works and on-site queries during the staged construction required fast problem solving and design-package updates in order to deliver a high-quality design.


Chaos & Fertility

Tapestry Design Prize for Architects

Tapestry Design Prize for Architects
Competition Entry - Page 2: Chaos and Fertility, Tapestry Design, Pop Architecture & Hotham Street Ladies
Competition Entry - Page 3: Chaos and Fertility, Tapestry Design Materiality Description, Pop Architecture & Hotham Street Ladies

Project Details

Team: Pop Architecture & Hotham Street Ladies
Project Name: ‘Chaos & Fertility’
Project Type: Australian Tapestry Workshop’s International Design Competition - Tapestry Design Prize for Architects 2018
Status: Winner 2018 (142 entries)

Design Details

Established in 2015, the Tapestry Design Prize for Architects (TDPA) challenges architects to explore the possibilities of tapestry and architecture through the invitation to create a tapestry design for a hypothetical site. 

The TDPA 2018 brief, written by MONA founder David Walsh, invited architects to design a tapestry for Étienne-Louis Boullée’s mooted Cenotaph for Isaac Newton that inspired the Pharos Wing at MONA, designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects. The brief encouraged a design that ‘was unconstrained by the requirement to be constructible’ but that may also be hung on the wall behind James Turrell’s Unseen Seen in the Pharos Wing.

Pop Architecture was eager to enter this competition as it was an opportunity to challenge design thinking and collaborate with artists, the Hotham Street Ladies.

The collaborative process was hugely enjoyable as Pop and HSL shared research, artistic & technical skills and anecdotes to arrive at design which was conceptually strong and visually engaging. The collaborative work is a collage comprised of hand and digitally produced material including watercolour painting, 3D modelling and rendering, and photography.

First prize was awarded to Pop Architecture and Hotham Street Ladies.  142 entries were received including 25 from international participants.  Emeritus Professor Kay Lawrence AM, TDPA 2018 Judging Panel Chair remarked that “their tapestry design Chaos and Fertility, rejects the absence of ornament in Boullée’s practice as well as his ideals of enlightenment and ‘male reason’. Their design playfully responds to Walsh’s brief through their subversion of the western canon, with a focus on transgressive textiles, female history and subjectivity.”

The winning design and prize recipients were selected on the basis of artistic merit; ability to engage to a high degree with the unique qualities of tapestry; ability to design a major artwork that responds to a contemporary architectural space; and capacity to celebrate tapestry in architecture, through understanding of materials form, design and collaborative interpretation.

Read more about the competition here.

Competition Entry - Design Statement

Deep within the submerged, rocky base of Newton’s Cenotaph, and obscured in the shadowy nether regions of the subterranean colonnade, the secret sect of Diana of Ephesus continued at their needle work.

There was no place for them or their practice in Boullée’s cult architecture, its principles promoting the total absence of ornament and other. Cast aside, they railed against Etienne-Louis Boullée’s sphere as an absolute and perfect symbol of Male Reason.

Instead, they conceived of a work that would blow apart this male fantasy: a resplendent, vivid and richly textured tapestry, which - when joined at the seams - would shroud the geometric purity of the sphere with a riotously decorative display. It would be a depiction of the hidden grottos at which they worshipped, each containing a female deity.

When revealed, this would envelop Newton’s Cenotaph with potent symbols of female fertility and fecundity.

- Pop Architecture & Hotham Street Ladies