Thinking About Space: Links and Magic

I spend some part of each week in the Teaching Commons at the University of Canberra.
I meet all sorts of people there.
It is great space for conversation, working collaboratively and working in shared and sometimes noisy space.
Today I had the opportunity to chat with Danny Munnerley about the evolution of the Teaching Commons and its relationship with other spaces on the University campus (including the soon-to-be-completed InSPIRE Centre).
As is often the case our conversation turned to ‘edgelessness’.
Driving home today I listened to two interviews on Radio National’s Artworks program that extended my conversation with Danny about place and space.
In the first interview, Michael Shirrefs spoke with Jacques Martial who, since 2006, has run one of the largest arts precincts in Europe, the Parc de la Villette on the north-east boundary of central Paris. Jacques sees la Villette as a place of links as well as being a designed space. It is a bridge between cultures and on entry you become part of the Parc in a place different from ‘normal life’. In exploring the relationship between space and cultural narrative Jacques discussed the work of the architect of la Villette, Bernard Tschumi, and the philosopher Gilles Deleuze.
In the second interview, Suzanne Donisthorpe talked with Brigita Ozolins about her Reading Room show at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. The Reading Room is:

an immersive, interactive environment about the magic world of books and reading. The gallery walls are painted red and are lined with thousands and thousands of books. There are comfy chairs and couches so you can sit back and listen to over 60 people from all walks of life in Tasmania reading a passage from one of their favourite books, or you can pick up a book and start reading yourself!

Space as Linking and Magic
I have a sense of space as offering filaments of connections to memory and practice.
I like the possibilities for links and magic suggested by Jacques and Brigita.
I wonder what would happen if we had a generation of designs of space for teaching and learning entrusted to performance artists. Brigita’s PhD, for example, has explored how “installations that focus on viewer experience” offer “the possibility of developing new narratives about our relationship to language and knowledge.” Such installations “incorporate already existing materials, cultural signs, objects and ideas associated with institutional practices of collecting, manipulating and disseminating information.”
What a great day of narratives that linked and bridged spaces in Canberra, Paris and Hobart!
Photo Credits
The Mercury, 11 October 2011
Parc de la Villette


  1. Unfortunately, it is a staff commons not a teaching commons (please correct the naming, it’s leading to misunderstandings) – hence I don’t use it so much – at least with my office, I’m allowed to let students, staff, and the general public in.

    • James
      Thank you for visiting this post.
      I did think about the name ‘Teaching Commons’ and have used it advisedly. I do teach in there and am in turn taught. I invite people into the space and now hold most of my meetings there. I apologise if the name has caused you offence. I see it as a very important open access space.


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