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Julian Worrall Spaces is a research-led creative practice focussed on architecture and urbanism founded in Adelaide, Australia in 2015. The practice aims to develop proposals for spatial interventions, both real and speculative, in collaboration with partners sharing our orientation toward architectural innovation, urban intelligence, and aesthetic depth.

The practice has been “born global”, with a prehistory rooted in founder Julian Worrall’s international career in architecture and urbanism spanning academia and practice in Japan, Europe, and the United States, including with Ushida Findlay Architects; Klein Dytham Architecture; and OMA. While positioned to undertake selected commissions for built work, the practice also aims to serve as a vehicle for the mobilisation of ideas emerging from the research and teaching Julian conducts in his role as Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the School of Architecture and Built Environment of the University of Adelaide. The practice has successfully realised small private buildings and renovations, developed through international and cross-cultural collaborations, most recently on a beach house in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

One of the core theoretical concerns of the practice is a design approach advanced under the concept of “Disemplacement”. This combines responsiveness to local place, context and culture (emplacement), while at the same time being alert to the mobilities and trajectories that animate contemporary sites and architecture (displacement). The latter aspects are the “elsewheres” of a site or situation; and these are combined with locally contextual dimensions (the “now-heres”) to form the ideational matrix of a project. The architecture produced through such an approach reflects something of a contemporary condition in which our affiliations and identities are dispersed across time and space. Such buildings can be understood as “rooted cosmopolitans.”

In parallel with this concern, the practice is also developing an ethical and aesthetic stance around what is termed “The Neutral”, borrowing an idea from a book of the same title by Roland Barthes. Barthes describes the neutral as that which “outplays or baffles the paradigm”. The Neutral is distinguished from potentially cognate ideas, the Generic and the Vernacular, with neutral architecture defined as “a response to site and need that avoids or refuses identification, classification, or a specific content – in other words, a stable meaning”. This position has spatial, urban, and environmental implications. The Neutral implies flexibility and favours improvisation. Neutral forms are characterised by an openness to circumstance and contingency, and are available for diverse occupations and inhabitations. They are quiet but strong, abstaining from explicit figuration while calmly absorbing and accommodating the life of the city. These ideas have been disseminated most recently as part of the publication of the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016.

An overview of Julian’s academic activities can be found at his university page here: Dr Julian Worrall; while a recent interview with Julian can be found here: Staff Profile: Dr Julian Worrall

Our most immediate aspiration for the practice is to apply these global experiences and perspectives to the challenges and opportunities of our local context here in Adelaide. Please get in touch if you think we can help you with a potential project!

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