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Tarsha Finney


Tarsha Finney is an architect and an urbanist. Her research interests cross several areas: domesticity and the problem of multi-residential housing with specific knowledge of the cities of New York, Beijing and Sydney; architectural typology and notions of disciplinary specificity and autonomy; and the architectural urbanism of innovation in cities. In 2003, whilst completing a Masters degree in Housing and Urbanism at the Architectural Association London, Tarsha won the Michael Ventris Memorial Award which enabled her to conduct primary research in China looking at the Danwei Live work unit implemented by the Communist government following the 1949 revolution. In 2004 Tarsha commenced doctoral studies at the Architectural Association with the Thesis: Repetition and Transformation: The Housing Project and the constitution of the Urban Field. New York 1935-1971. Supervisors Architectural Association: Lawrence Barth (AA) and Dr. Nikolas Bullock (Cambridge University). This work was completed in 2016 under the UTS Supervision of Prof. Desley Luscombe and Prof. Charles Rice.

Community Involvement and Practice
In 2009 Tarsha curated Urban Futures: Ideas of the City at the UTS gallery, an exhibition of the work of Diploma Unit 6 at the Architectural Association, London. She also convened a concurrent symposium Urban Futures: Architectural Type and the Urban Plan held at Customs House in Sydney. Since 2007 she has been a guest Juror at UNSW, the Berlage Institute Rotterdam, Nottingham University, the Architectural Association London and throughout the School of Architecture at UTS. Tarsha frequently writes for practice journals such as Monument. Prior to commencing postgraduate study in the UK in 2002, Tarsha ran an architectural practice in Sydney focused on residential and small commercial projects. In 2000 Tarsha won the National Association of Women in Construction NSW Chapter Mallesons Stephen Jacques Merit Scholarship for outstanding student.


Visiting Professor, Royal College of the Arts, London 2016-2018.

Editorial Board The Unfamiliar Dwelling. The Architecture Foundation, London

Invited Member, Town Centre Renewal Taskforce, The Committee for Sydney

Member, Gender Equity Committee. Australian Institute of Architects.

Image of Tarsha Finney
Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture
Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Arts
+61 2 9514 8112

Research Interests

As Visiting Professor in the school of architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, Tarsha Finney is leading The Intergenerational City research project. This will link together an international network of industry, government and institutional partners including the University of Technology Sydney, the RCA and Hong Kong University, focused on the spatial performance of housing in the context of the multi-generational city.

This multi-year, School-wide research project will examine one of the most urgent questions we face in city design today: the consequences of the contemporary centralizing city, its increasing inability to accommodate different phases of the human life span and the profound social consequences that are emerging as a result. The project will explore ideas for housing that anticipates emerging demographic changes, such as extended and blended families, the rise of people living alone, non-familial relationships of intimacy and care, and the issue of ageing in place. The question is ultimately: how do we cultivate equity and complementarity between different communities.

Tarsha was Senior Research Assistant with Dr Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, School of Architecture and with Dr Martin Kornberger of the School of Marketing at UTS on an ARC Industry Linkage The Architecture of Academic Research.

During her time in the doctoral program at the Architectural Association Tarsha was involved in a number of small focused research groups across the field of architecture and urbanism – including ‘Transformation and urban change’ (2007 led by Lawrence Barth), ‘Rethinking Architectural Urbanism’ (2005, 2006 led by Lawrence Barth), ‘Size and Scale’ (2005 Led by Marina Lathouri and Mark Cousins).

11514 M.Arch Design Studio: The Singular Collective: New logics of intimacy and care in housing: London, Hong Kong and Sydney.
11248 Architectural Histories and Theories: Urbanism and the City 
11307 Special Project – The Western Desert Art Institute, Alice Springs.
11501 M.Arch Advocacy: Housing, Asset class or Infrastructure.


Finney, T.L. 2016, 'Architectural Urbanism and Sporting Ecologies: Constituting the Scale of Neighbourhood' in Southgate, D., Childs, P. & Bull, A.M.J. (eds), Sports Innovation, Technology and Research, World Scientific Publishing UK Ltd, UK, pp. 97-111.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Sports Innovation, Technology and Research gives an insight into recent research and design projects at Imperial College London. It presents the on-going development of a diverse range of areas from elite rowing performance to impact protection to sporting amenities in communities. Also included are descriptions of some of the latest innovations that have been developed as part of the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge, an initiative that tasked engineering students to design, build and implement Paralympic and other sporting equipment. It offers a glimpse at the breadth of creativity that can be achieved when human centred design is applied to an area such as disabled sport. It also shows the potential that design and engineering have to contribute to healthy lifestyles and the generation of whole new sporting domains. This book will be valuable for anyone with an interest in sports technology, including those in industry, academia, sports organisations and athletes themselves.
Finney, T.L. 2016, 'Urban Transformation, Spatial Instrumentality and Scale' in Verebes, T. (ed), AA Shanghai Portfolio.
Reinmuth, G. & Finney, T.L. 2015, 'Agency, Redirected' in Mitsogianni, V., Bates, D. & Ramirez-Lovering, D. (eds), Studio Futures:Changing Trajectories in Architectural Education, Uro, Melbourne, pp. 133-140.
Throughout much of the twentieth century, the design studio has been an important locus of invention and experimentation in architecture: both smelter and test-bed for new ideas. But with recent developments in digital technology, new materials and construction practices, shifts in the client-architect relationship, and architectural practice subject to evermore-onerous procurement models, is the studio model still relevant?
Finney, T.L. 2008, 'Centrality and Dispersal: Domesticity and the City' in Flores, R. & Prats, E. (eds), Through the Canvas: Architecture Inside Dutch Paintings, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, pp. 116-119.


Finney, T.L. 2016, 'Housing Infrastructure Cities: Hong Kong / Sydney How We're Blinded To The Limitations Of Transit Oriented Development', AMPS Proceedings 7 Series, Future Housing: Global Cities and Regional Problems, AMPS, Swinbourne University, pp. 215-220.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is understood to be a solution to a broad range of issues in contemporary city building. From housing density and the focus of urban renewal back toward the center of cities and in response to the desire to intensify suburban centers in the provision of more housing, more amenity, more walkable neighborhoods, it is understood to be a success. It is argued as part of responses to questions of both social and environmental sustainability in terms of the reduction of resource use through the concentration of activity around existing and newly developed transport hubs. Equally it is also presented as a solution to governmental risk amelioration and the exposure of tax payer resources to new development through innovations in funding models for example away from public sector only provision of infrastructure and toward the transfer of construction and demand risk, in addition to strategies such as value capture as part of sophisticated new models of public private partnerships or private delivery of projects. Together, these clusters of arguments for TOD make it a powerful and compelling concept. However, what these blind us to is the strategic socio-political failures of TOD if it is situated on a trajectory of urban spatial reasoning through the twentieth century and particularly with reference to a history that includes the Neighborhood Unit. Building housing in cities has through the twentieth century been a more complex problem then simply building density over infrastructure. This paper will examine some of that history, its practice in both north America, Uk and Australian cities, but also in Asian cities, and argue that neighborhood has been a critical spatial mechanism for constituting cities and ourselves as urban and domestic subjects. The absence of that reasoning in TOD has profound consequences for city functioning and social and political resilience
Finney, T.L. & Reinmuth, G. 2013, 'Agency, Redirected', Designing/ Education: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of The Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, Designing/ Education: 7th International Conference of The Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia, The Association of Architecture Schools of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 406-425.
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In response to changes in both the practice of architecture and changes in terms of architectures field of operation: the global economic, political and cultural context of its production, the following paper proposes to re-examine the inherited unit system of the graduate educational M.Arch design studio. Contrary to `alternate modes of practice' that propose in critiquing the profession, an abandonment of the discipline of architecture, this paper instead calls for a clarified return in the educational context to architecture's core material and spatial skill set redirected relative to the animating diagrammatic condition that since the 19th century has relied on architectures capacities in material and organizational experimentation to build cities.

Journal articles

Finney, T.L. 2015, 'The Ground, Object and Strategy: Architectural Transformation in Housing Projects, New York City', Journal of Architecture, vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 962-987.
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Kenneth Frampton, in a 1973 Architectural Forum review of the 1968–1973 Bronx-sited Twin Parks Housing Development in New York City, asked: 'to what purpose do you assign the space under the pilotis? The problem posed by the pilotis […] is integral to the original model […] What would the inhabitants of the Ville Radieuse have done with these continuous arcades? […] This is the typological burden…' The apparent banality of Frampton's observation obscures what is revealed in the lifting up of the building on pilotis: the ground itself. Rather than follow Frampton's use of typology as a descriptive tool in the service of a critical judgement, this paper will instead see the question of type as one involving a diagnostic and propositional gesture within the design process itself, and as part of an ongoing and critical questioning of the city. The paper will explore how the three-dimensional articulation of the ground level evident in a trajectory of projects in New York City has been a site of concentrated architectural research from the late nineteenth century through to contemporary approaches to urban intensification. Here the ground can be seen to be both an object of architectural investigation and spatial reasoning, and at the same time, to operate at a strategic intersection with the spatial politics of the liberal metropolis.
Finney, T.L. 2012, 'Love Thy Neighbour', Landscape Architecture China, vol. 5, no. 25, pp. 52-57.
Changing mortgage consumption patterns amongst Generation Y in Australian cities are marking a shift away from suburban living as the aspiration of the majority, toward apartments and a density marked by urban culture and patterns of living - close to amenity and a sociability in cities.
Finney, T.L. 2012, 'Urban Change', Architecture Australia, vol. 101, no. 1, pp. 70-72.
Renew Newcastle marks the formalisation of a legal, contractual and spatial mechanism for urban Renewal that recognises the temporality of urban transformation.
Finney, T.L. 2010, 'The infrastructure of stability', Architectural Design, vol. 80, no. 5, pp. 64-69.
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Afghanistan's key strategical position, lying between Asia and the Middle East, has made it prey to foreign invasion throughout its history. TarshaFinney explains how an existing military infrastructure of airports, roads, accommodation and unskilled concentrations of labour have given the US and its allies an important leg-up in the current conflict, providing what could be perceived to be an underlying structure of stability
Finney, T.L. 2010, 'The Infrastructure of Instability: Afghanistan', Post Traumatic Urbanism: Architectural Design, vol. 80, no. 5, pp. 64-69.
In the insurmountable volatility of the Afghan confl ict, occupying forces build on the structures of previous occupying forces.
Finney, T.L. 2009, 'Review: Depot Beach House by Stutchbury Pape', Monument Magazine, vol. 90, no. April/May.
Finney, T.L. 2009, 'Review: Challenger Workplace.', Monument Magazine, vol. 89, no. Feb/Mar.
Finney, T.L. 2008, 'Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York', Journal of Architecture, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 515-518.
Finney, T.L. 2006, 'Review: Artificial nature 1: Transcapes, digitally mediated Environments', Architecture Review (AR) Australia, vol. -, no. December.

Non traditional outputs

Finney, T.L. 2012, 'Love Thy Neighbour', Multi-Residential Housing and Changing Cities, Landscape Architecture China, Beijing, pp. 52-57.
This collection of writing links emerging patterns of mortgage consumption with future needs of the city in terms of population growth and climate change. It contributes to critical public thinking around questions of urban density and shifts toward multi-residential housing in Australian cities and is positioned within a catalogue of recent publications within architectural literature that look at the role of multi-residential housing in building cities. Central to this is a tension between issues of collective versus individual use and ownership of apartments raised by shrinking dwelling sizes and the emergence of an enlarged social space in new residential buildings the management and etiquette for use of which is still to develop. Spanning both reviews of new multi-residential buildings in Sydney along with a commissioned editorial piece Love Thy Neighbour for the Sydney Morning Herald, this collection of writing responds to research released in 2011 by IPSOS showing that for the first time, mortgage consumption patterns amongst Generation Y consumers is shifting. Traditionally Australians associate property ownership with the domestic and `home ownership, home being a single family suburban dwelling in which to raise a family. Increasingly however, IPSOS found that Gen Y still want to own property, but now they are just as happy buying an apartment which they may or may not live in. This is significance as with the severing of the link between the domestic and property ownership, new opportunities are becoming available to rethink the way we procure, finance and build housing in cities.
Finney, T.L., 'URBAN FUTURES', URBAN FUTURES: Ideas of the City and URBAN FUTURES: Architectural Typology and the Urban Plan., nil, UTS Gallery.
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The URBAN FUTURES events were the first major international tour and exhibition of the work and ideas of Diploma Unit 6 from the Architectural Association, London. The contemporary field of architectural production is dominated by an opposition between self-referential form making and a cultural commentary that gives very little practical traction on the problem of how to build in the city. Driven by project led research through design, the material in this exhibition/symposium has made a significant contribution to both the conversation within the school of architecture at UTS regarding the direction of the MAA in Urban design, but equally it made a contribution at the scale of the city in terms of discussions around the importance of sites such as Barangaroo + the Frasers site.
Finney, T.L., 'CO-ISOLATED', Shed 29 South Sydney Corporate Park, Burke Road Alexandria.
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CO-ISOLATED was an exhibition of new work by the artists Richard Goodwin, Michael Snape and David Burns. The venue was a 3000m2 industrial shed in an industrially zoned part of southern Sydney. Typically, exhibition curation involves the collecting of work for display driven via the logic of a meta narrative and ideology. CO-ISOLATED moved away from this collectivising drive, using instead the aesthetic affect of the work itself as the common thread. Driven by a curator, with an architectural background, shared with two of the three artists, the impetus was to foreground the relationship between space and materiality in the exhibition of work. The exploration of spatial affects via the installation and performance of the art was critical to the project. Co-isolated takes its name from the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's reference to a kind of alienation. The question that the exhibition asks is: on what grounds can three very disparate works of art be held together? Co-isolated successfully achieved a curatorial logic based on scale, light and movement via the relationship between an audience, the monumental space of the industrial shed in which it was housed, and through the material and performative presence of the work itself. An accompanying catalogue was produced, containing a critical essay by architectural theorist Adrian Lahoud. The exhibition was also supported by a symposium (Saturday 17 April 2010) including theorists Adam Geczy, Adam Jasper, Adrian Lahoud, the artists and me as curator. The exhibition is also touring to NSW regional galleries in Orange and Maitland (2011/2012).

Royal College of Art, London

British Land

Committee for Sydney

Urban Growth New South Wales.

Office of the Government Architect

University of Western Sydney

University of Sydney