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Monash Art Design & Architecture

DR MATTHEW BIRD

Senior Lecturer

Dr Matthew Bird is a practicing Architect and Senior Lecturer within the Department of Architecture at MADA, Monash University Melbourne.

Matthew Bird
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He is known for his unsolicited projects notably Alphaomega Apartment where he developed his material technique of the ‘elaborative ready-made’ and theatrically transformed a tiny rental apartment unbeknown to the owners. Since the completion of this project he formed his architectural atelier Studiobird and has produced a range of architectural new build, interior design, installation art, performance and scenographic projects that individually and as a compilation advance a nontraditional and experimental model of architectural practice.

Studiobird project outcomes and associate practice methodologies fuel Bird’s teaching and research.

Bird has over ten years experience as a practicing architect, working for some of Melbourne’s premiere architecture firms; Cassandra Complex, ARM Architecture and internationally on a range of institutional, commercial, residential, hospitality, retail and interior focused projects.

studiobird.com.au

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Hydronaut

• Security Kiosk and Office, Monash University Caulfield
• By Studiobird & Mark Richardson Designer/ Maker
• Photography Peter Bennetts

Hydronaut is a semi-permanent, demountable structure housing an armament of security staff at the northwest edge of Monash University’s Caulfield campus. The building occupies five parking bays on the ground level of an existing car-park and provides a panopticonic point-of-presence in a location known for its security challenges.

True to its imperatives for semi-permanence and waste minimisation, the structure’s nine tensegrity exterior modules are tent-like. These are hand crafted from waste PVC truck side curtains stretched over tensioning frames made from exercise trampolines, discarded steel storage racks and reused stud framing. Marked by prominent portals, the façade’s mirrored circular windows accentuate a camera monocle motif. Inside, peephole portholes punctuate walls lined with reject perforated-ply acoustic panels. Separate interior spaces are visually connected by bespoke joinery truncating towards an armour-screened control counter at the bow.

Conceptually the project draws reference from social theories of Jeremy Bentham’s late eighteenth century panopticon penitentiary; the privileged watchman conceivably surveying all with wood-be hoodlums questioning who is watching. The voyeur’s peephole, marine binoculars, the telescopic camera lens, Checkpoint Charlie, submersible vehicles were further concepts explored. Hydronaut surfaces as an investigation into interdisciplinary practice with a vigilant but playful built result.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Napoleon Perdis Chapel

• Interior Architecture Retail Project
• Design collaborators Charity Edwards & Harry Evans
• Photography Christine Francis

Lush. Brutal. Greco. Cosmic. Cinematic. Mojave. Napoleon Perdis Chapel is a cosmetics, lifestyle and academy retail universe donned in layers of experiential staginess.
This project throws caution and perceived spatial fashions to the wind. By meshing the eclectic desires, lifestyle and dreamworlds of both the client AND the practitioner into a spatial transformation of this tenancy, the interior claims a new kind of spatial practice that is not afraid to add more to retail branding and the interpretation of commercial goals. The project is not content to greenwash its sustainable credentials – materials and objects have primarily been sourced from vintage, antique and private collections already in existence. Upcycling, refashioning and big box hardware DIY strategies are privileged and at all times celebrated with equal luxury and attention to sensation as typically specified glamour retail details.

The interior advances a practice that is dedicated to wish fulfillment, material exploration and an unashamed reveal of exotic theatricality present in day-to-day life.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Embassy

• Collaboration with Phillip Adams BalletLab
• Exhibited at Pin-Up Architecture and Design Project Space, Collingwood, Australia, 2014
• Photography Peter Bennetts

Embassy is inspired by the notion of the architectural object itself and how it can be deposited outside its usual static context. Researching the oddity of extraterritorial spaces and experiences, the installation Embassy results as a choreographed quartet of moving panel garage doors held in unison by a robust, workmanlike timber frame yet lifted out of the ordinary via its glossy ‘skin’ of stark white paint. The installation appeared as a set of contradictions: a pure, modernist form and, at the same time, a commentary of the Australian suburb and a celebration of the banal. The viewer encountered the structure with the instinctual knowledge that the doors would move – spreading and reaching, the multiple layers and openings create an intriguing interstitial space. The entrance and exit sequence alluded to an experience of liminality… a threshold to be crossed into an ambiguous space.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Future Wagon

• Unsolicited performance with Phillip Adams, Caulfield South, 2013
• Exhibited in Melbourne Now as 'Future Wagon Taxidermy', Sampling The City: Architecture In Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre, 2013-14
• Photography Igor Sapina

Future Wagon envisions a nomadic home of tomorrow. This is not a high-tech caravan project for a family of four rather the pursuit of an anachronistic and ‘unidentifiable’ symbol on wheels. The project speculates upon our future inhabitant’s roaming street address and value of material decor. Where will we live, and what will our homes look like? The outcome is constructed from ‘do-it-yourself’ materials and amalgamates numerous wandering references from stagecoaches of the wild west, gypsy caravans, regal carriages, Buckminster Fuller’s dymaxion car to homemade billycarts and shopping trolleys of the homeless.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Loop Roof

• Rooftop bar by JLM Architects and Studiobird collaboration
• Location Meyers Place, Melbourne CBD
• Photography Peter Bennetts

Loop Roof is a new permanent rooftop cocktail bar and art space designed by Jesse Judd (JLM Architects) in collaboration with Matthew Bird (Studiobird). The project concept inverts the aesthetics and performative qualities of a traditional black box theatre combined with otherworldly scenographic references. Perched above Melbourne’s city skyline the outcome is clad in richly textured materials of black astroturf and rubber that emphasis stagy amber and blue suspended installation of spheres in halo like patterns. Combined with a lush rooftop garden of exotic plants by landscape architect Jeremy Starr, Loop Roof evokes ethereal references such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the artwork Garden Of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
The Forever Gazebo

• Installation exhibited at RMIT Design Hub Gallery, Melbourne Australia
• Photography Christine Francis

The Forever Gazebo assembles a range of references from nomadic habitats such as primitive huts, teepees and caravans combined with the platonic form and patterns of late Architect Bruce Goff's residential projects and abstractly intergalactic traversing meteorites and their embodied mysterious/ exotic characteristics. Materials: a hexagonal gazebo, mesh screens, wool insulation, seedling containers, plastic beads, fluoro brickies line, red drum trolleys, cable ties.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
The Landing Series

• Unsolicited installations and performance in collaboration with Phillip Adams BalletLab
• Mojave Landing: Mojave Desert, California, USA 2012
• Tomorrow: Premiere Southbank Theatre, Melbourne 2012
• Roof Top Landing: Melbourne CBD, Melbourne 2012
• Photography Peter Bennetts and Igor Sapina

Mojave Landing, Roof Top Landing and Tomorrow grew from Bird and Adams’ esoteric research into alien abduction and a revelatory experience at The Integratron in the Mojave Desert, USA. This became the entry point for imagined abduction, an architectural installation spatial oddity of sonic and design interactions between the artists, to create a “tomorrow” utopia; an unsettled universe desperate to gather, confirm and sexualise a superlative energy united by a utopian impulse to liberate the mind.

Bird and Adams developed The Landing Series through an extensive design and research process including an excursion to the Mojave Desert in California to experience and document The Integratron and surrounding desert context, visiting utopian communities across the American Southwest. Intrigued by the participatory event of constructing these environments in nature’s extremities discovering their underlying interest of utopian edifices are not the built results but the cult that collectively supports the vision and construction phase.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Hotel Otherworldly

• Unsolicited installation, Hilton on The Park East Melbourne
• Photography Peter Bennetts

Hotel Otherworldly manifested within the decay of an existing 1970s landmark Melbourne hotel and is intended as a new leisure oasis for the experience-seeking traveller. Sharing a significant lineage from Conrad Hilton’s original ‘Hilton International’ hotel chain, namely the modernist incredibleness of Hilton Nile, Istanbul Hilton, Tel Aviv Hilton and Hilton Athens, which were built in privileged areas of historic tourist locations and to luxurious American standards. Each showcased American innovation and the power of the democratic west within an eastern exoticism.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Aviary

• Collaboration with Phillip Adams BalletLab
• Presented at the Melbourne Festival, Arts House 2011 & MONA FOMA, Theatre Royal Hobart 2012 & Teo Otto Theater, Remscheid, Germany 2014
• Photography Peter Bennetts

The handcrafting creation of the two bower nests replicated the behaviour of the bowerbird by gathering urban materials and reimagining them into alluring spatial and immersive worlds via precise articulation of intuitive pecks, wefts and warps.

Scavenged materials such as nylon bird netting, hydraulic hose, trailer reflectors, cable ties were hand-woven physically by Bird and Adams into black netting via an intuitive if not hypnotic state of mind over a period of three months. A variety of references informed the anachronistic form and pattern of the bower nests and environment, including organic modernist architect Bruce Goff’s Joe Price House, Gio Ponti’s seashell patterns within hotel Parco Dei Principi, temples and tepees and the weaving habits of New Guinean tribes. The jungle paradise was reinforced with a perforated silver reflective backdrop and green foliage clippings collected from local gardens and erratically dispersed throughout the duration of the finale.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Neervana Haven

• Various installations
• Vacation home, Great Ocean Road, Fairhaven
• Photography Christine Francis

The exterior installation of the home is the decorative use of reflective silver plates, shimmering in similar manner to the scales of an ocean fish and starfish whilst recalling architectural ornamentation of Indian palaces.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
The Tracey Thredbo Project

• Installation with Phillip Adams BalletLab
• Exhibited at Dancehouse, Melbourne, Australia 2010
• Photography Michelle Hamer

In 2010 the Tracey Thredbo project introduced and informed a new cross-disciplinary narrative between architect Matthew Bird and choreographer Phillip Adams by experimenting with human movement, built form with the trajectory of designing interactive liberating spaces. A suspended ceiling structure was crafted from 318 cardboard archive boxes and performatively distorted via a series of abstract climatic energy simulations. Audience members were invited to participate by resting underneath while the contracting and tessellating ceiling structure reconfigured above through a complex design system of articulating ropes and pulleys. Each contraction simulated an ominous ‘disaster’ presence of the cyclone, earthquake, landslide and simultaneously alluding to spiritual assertions, confinement and ‘other’.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Domed

• Unsolicited installation collaboration with Artist Michelle Hamer
• Vacant home, East Malvern, Melbourne
• Photography Christine Francis

A sense of the baroque flourishes in this space as one feels drawn in by the movement and revolutions. This designed wonderment, hidden in suburbia, is at once both comforting and mesmerising.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Alphaomega Apartment

• Unsolicited installation
• Rental Apartment, Melbourne CBD
• Photography Peter Bennetts

Creationism. Evolution. Neon. Man. Escape. Nature. Artificial. Everything. Universe. Space. Mediocre. Veneer. Pattern. Set. Costume. Dream. Nightmare. Birth. Death. Reincarnated. Inside. Outside. Watch. Peek. Voyeur. Just Cos. Narcissism. Vanity. Utopia. Dystopia. Dark. Shady. Swallow. Saturation. Beige. Schizophrenia. Are you mad? Soft. Harsh. Pretty. Vulgar. Domestic. Alphaomega transforms an ordinary Melbourne CBD rental apartment into a client-specific and personalized surreal escape. Drawing from an extreme range of references, from Michelangelo to the Aussie red kangaroo, a domestic retreat materialized. Ordinary, off-the-shelf materials such as wool twine, bark, diverter hose, stainless steel hubcaps, windscreen blazers, rear-view mirrors and toy world globes are articulated as decorative installation elements throughout the apartment. Alphaomega Apartment discovers ordinary Bunnings’ commodities can be rethought, reworked and attain new, metamorphic and bespoke values.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer
The Exoticus

• Resort Research Project, Koolan Island, Kimberly Coast Western Australia

Located within the surreal landscape of Western Australia’s Kimberley coastline, The Exoticus manifests as a fantastical resort and a pleasure oasis for the travelling hedonistic. Koolan Island in the Indian Ocean is destined to become the latest exotic holiday location for indulging and experience-seeking travellers. Currently, an open-cut iron ore quarry, the island will be transformed into a luxurious resort with the construction a colossal fortified structure, accommodating visitors within a secure leisure atmosphere, free to gamble, swim and intoxicate. Turquoise blue lagoons, salt-water crocodiles, electrical stormy cyclones, iron-ore scars and extreme tidal currents surround. Lagoon-style cabanas border the colossal structure, each luxuriously textured and appointed with immersive bedroom quarters surrounded by private plunge pools.

Dr Matthew Bird, Senior Lecturer

MADA’s teaching & research staff are creative professionals, leading practitioners and renowned researchers who are at the top of their game, nationally and internationally.

Professor Shane Murray

Monash University
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