Sunday, March 1, 2009

Everything and Nothing

In this post Wei Jia recalls some of her first impressions of Melbourne and explores her views on the personality of the city itself.

For me, the thing I enjoyed most about university was participating in field trips.

A ‘field trip’ is a kind of assignment that students are required to do whilst studying Urban Design at the University of Melbourne. Put simply, a field trip is an activity where you go out to visit a place and then write a report describing how you felt about the experience.

My first urban design studio was quite out there. We were asked to assume that, as a result of global warming, the sea level would rise by 6.096m over the next fifty to one hundred years, covering a huge area of Melbourne and creating a new coastline. Along this coastline, we were asked to design something. Our first step was to take a field trip in order to analyze the breadth of this new waterfront. I teamed up with two other classmates during this image collection stage.

On the first day, we cycled together from the CBD to Docklands. This was my first impression of Melbourne, a place of many high rises with glass walls here and there, the sky reflecting off the glass giving the impression of a blue saturated world, dry and almost devoid of greenery. When we arrived at Docklands, everything seemed to become compressed, merging into a singular flat scene. Here it was industrial and dusty. Here the metallic-sheen left one feeling more than a little uncomfortable. So this is Melbourne, a monster with a great collage of imagery. It is not Europe, not America, not Asia, not the Middle East, neither classic nor modern. It is nothing, but in other words, it is everything. Melbourne, much like the people who inhabit it, is a city full of stylish conflicts.

This first field trip was a tiring experience for our group. We found that it wasn’t very smart to do everything together and so we split up. Williamstown was to be my next destination, another beautiful but disastrous field trip for me. But, I will talk more about that later.

To be continued…

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