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Designing for Mona Foma, an academic perspective

Students used their hands and were exposed to materials they had never worked with before, using a mindset they had not approached before.

“Mona Foma BLOMA is all about people talking to each other, the democratisation of culture. The lineage goes back to the Mona Foma SOMA project (2018) where students produced a mobile sound recording and performance stage, to engage with communities across Tasmania.”

Dr Andrew Steen, a lecturer at Architecture & Design, oversaw SOMA and BLOMA, collaborations between the University of Tasmania and the popular Mona Foma arts festival.

“Mona Foma SOMA was inspired by the voiceagraph, a 20th Century type booth where you would enter, put in 35c and record audio. This would produce an acid tape that could be taken and given to someone or kept. SOMA ventured away from this original concept but was re-visited during planning for BLOMA. This concept would capture a more digital society compared to 100 years ago.”

“There are two parts: a podium made from bent steel which contains the non-stop recording device and the colourful inflatable structure made from tyvek, a light but strong material.”

Socio-culturally, architecture really only works if it is seen. It is an overt condition in the built environment.

“The design of BLOMA was the work of the second and third year bachelor of Architecture & Built Environment students with input from the directors of Mona Foma. The process drew out different challenges and opportunities for students to learn to adapt.”

“Students used their hands and were exposed to materials they had never worked with before, using a mindset they had not approached before. It was a version of a real-life project condensed into two weeks, giving students an insight on what it’s like to run a project within a firm.”

“Architecture & Design, has a tradition of using timber, therefore tyvek is very radical in this tradition. There has been a lot of moments in history using inflatables in architecture and the logic of using inflatables is well aligned with some of the philosophies of the school. It does the most with the least!”

Hopefully this project speaks to the philosophy of the School and its commitment to communities. And its commitment to try and build Tasmanians’ knowledge and connection to culture.

Dr Andrew Steen is proud of what his team of students produced for Mona Foma.

“Next year’s project will potentially start from a similar place but will benefit from the learnings gathered during the SOMA and BLOMA projects. This will remove some of the technical issues and help students to think about form, technology and integration in different ways.”

Andrew enjoys seeing students learn quickly and is impressed by how disciplined and rigorous they can be. “Providing students with new experiences while producing eye catching objects is a real reward.”

Interested in hands-on, community projects with real life clients? Apply now to study the Master of Architecture.

Read master's student Emily Hunt’s experience with BLOMA