The Factory for Hyper-Ecologies was an experimental design studio that invited students to design a multi-scalar architectural proposal in the Great Barrier Reef, responding to contemporary environmental challenges. Students designed a building or a series of buildings that investigated present and future programmatic synergies for interaction, consumption, study, production, management and/or growth of ecologies.
One of these projects was the Reef Co-op, a geopolitical catalyst that inserts itself at the nexus of nature, politics and industry on the Great Barrier Reef. It is an ‘organism’ that feeds off the existing flows of water, waste, power and resources, and reinvents the existing system by proposing alternative modes of inhabitation.
The project targets two main groups of human actors: displaced workers and backpackers. The Yarwun region hosts bluestone mines that have closed, leaving their abandoned quarries along with a multitude of displaced workers. Backpackers (as both producers and consumers) also play a key role in the Co-op. Forced to undertake three months of labour as part of Australia’s visa program, they move throughout the Co-operative’s ecosystems, becoming students of the system and its agents as they filter back into society at large.
Reef Co-op creates a new level of interrelation between humans, non-humans and industry in an attempt to reduce current conflicts of interest between economic gain and environmental conservation.