Work by Jessica Gottlieb | Graduate Architect at Casey Brown Architecture

2015 | ARCH 7201 Graduation Studio

UNSW Masters of Architecture Program Architecture + Design

Initially responding to a studio brief for unconventional housing -  

‘Excavating the Edge’ responds to the challenge of exploring a totally new kind of city, one that shifts from Australia’s densely populated coast to its under - utilised centre.

The city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is 600km inland from Perth. Along its eastern fringe lies the KCGM Superpit, the world’s fourth largest open cut gold mine. 4km long, 1.5km wide and 600 metres deep, it forms a deep scar in the earth. Its decommissioning in 2021 provides a unique opportunity for rejuvenation.

The design itself is a two-faced puncturing of a man-made berm that currently lines the pit edge and presents a closed wall to the city. All new cut is re-constituted as a multi-functioning rammed earth wall that connects the entire edge. Driven by economic, social, environmental and material imperatives, and serving both private and public uses, the intervention extends and links the city to the pit, suggesting and promoting future growth.

There is an inherent contrast of scale evident in the design, whereby a barren expanse has been broken down, remediated and repurposed. Significant vertical and horizontal relationships are established. Responding to the crudely cut pit, a series of fine geometric edge excavations articulate unconventional, semi-subterranean housing typologies that filter into semi-private courtyards, which open onto public spaces.

The proposal both celebrates and provides protection from the desert climate. It is powered by a solar road / proposed bushwalking track that runs through the mine, and recycles all grey- and black-water. Providing a major economic driver for Kalgoorlie are climate-specific, food-producing greenhouses that utilise the pit groundwater as the primary water source.

The intervention is inherently social, totally self-sustainable and economically viable as an agricultural producer. ‘Excavating the Edge’ represents one exploration of repurposing an exceptional outback landscape for future urban settlement. The potential for similar intervention into other dramatic sites provides future architectural food for thought. 


Awards: -

Masters Graduate of the Year UNSW – Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter 2017

RIBA Presidents Silver Medal - Royal Institute of British Architects 2017 (Nominated)

NSW Design Medal- Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter 2016 (Nominated)

Margot + Neville Gruzman Award for Urban Design - UNSW 2016