Dissolving cultural barriers in luxury dwellings
How can a mansion be used to break down cultural barriers in Sydney in the year 2031? If you’re UTS student Emma Anastasio, you’ve just dedicated an entire year to finding out.
Anastasio recently completed her honours program as part of the Bachelor of Interior Architecture. Her end-of-year project, which was exhibited at the UTS Design and Architecture Show, sought to unravel the complex relationships between specific types of housing (mansions, apartments, terraces, shop-top houses, suburban homes and beach shacks) and multiculturalism, set against a backdrop of a hypothetical future.
As one of the students allocated to the mansion category, Anastasio quickly seized on the idea of using the mansion’s vast physical space to create a cultural exchange house. Her work explored the idea of bringing migrants from different cultures together to share their cultural, religious, historical and political experiences and knowledge.
“My design is a system of spaces that allow for the exchange and discovery of different cultures. Within it, people can learn and gain knowledge of the ‘other’ to see where this tension or contradiction might be created when these cultures are right next to each other,” she says.
“The key message I want people to take away from the work is that in Australia, everyone has the right to freely express their cultural background without any prejudice, discrimination or fear of being forced to integrate. I want society to recognise otherness with celebration and discovery.”
The work built on the findings from a group project from earlier in the year, in which Anastasio and her partners were asked to explore mansions in more depth. They quickly discovered that the very things that defined this type of housing – their expense, luxury and exclusivity – made them inaccessible to the average person on the street, including the students themselves.
“It made me think, why not make a mansion for use in a more collective way?
“That’s how I brought the idea of luxury and inaccessibility into a migrant cultural exchange house where migrants can access this privileged site that would otherwise be out of reach.”
At the start of her honours year, Anastasio landed an interior architecture job at architecture firm SAS Sydney Architecture Studio, an achievement she puts down to the mix of critical and creative thinking skills, as well as her understanding of the design process – site analysis, research, diagramming, concept design, site development and final design – that she developed during her time at UTS.
And, while she’s got big plans for the future, right now she couldn’t be happier to immerse herself in the world of commercial design.
“I just want to expand my knowledge, advance my skills, gain as much experience as possible and grow as a designer,” she says.
Learn more about the UTS Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Interior Architecture.