UTS Interior Architecture students Tara Blackmore, Audrey Abbott and Jeremy Medlock, who presented their design projects to historians, curators and staff of Sydney Living Museums at the Caroline Simpson Library in 2017, write about their experiences of the project in these statements.
Analysis – Tara Blackmore
Visiting both Susannah Place Museum and Caroline Simpson Research Library provided a wealth of knowledge on a diverse range of interior elements such as decorative paint finishes, wallpapers, linoleums, domestic technologies and amenities that accumulated throughout the 19th and 20th century working class homes of the Rocks. By drawing and documenting such a tremendous amount of material culture we were able to establish connections between the emplaced items of each interior and how they reflected the social values of the families who lived in the terraces over time. For example, the displacement of objects such as kerosene lamps and iceboxes for wired lighting and electric fridges spoke to the tenant’s personal choices for convenience as well as societal shift in the relationship to technology in domestic space.
Development – Audrey Abbott
The history of Susannah Place was always in mind when we were developing our designs. It’s stories of survival through plague, the Depression, as well as modern challenges of redevelopment and gentrification were inspiring and provided great insight into how we could consider the space for the new tenants in a thoughtful and respectful way.
Response – Jeremy Medlock
As a museum, Susannah Place holds such a rich collection of personal memories and stories of inhabitation that the importance of making personal spaces became a core value for our design responses. When considering how to go about making changes to the interior, understanding the link between the dual design processes of displacement and emplacement became key. Each change was considered at the scale of the new users, and aimed to balance the emplacement of new practical and experiential needs with the history and memories that were being displaced. Each changes had to be done in a respectful manner and we had to be fully aware of the effects we were having on the interior space. This process gave us a tremendous understanding of the responsibility in handling personal history and the unique role of interior architecture to affect inhabitation through material culture.