MUSEUM of (Subsurface) INFRASTRUCTURE & CONTAMINANTS

Clinton Baird

As the 19th century settler-colonisation of Melbourne precipitated a gold rush and in turn the city’s rapid expansion, waste products of both our built environments and human behaviour proliferated. This instigated detrimental damage to the earth's subsurface (land, soil, and water-bodies) as well as to our own subsurface (disease & sickness), which has only escalated as the city continues to grow.[1]  With the population of Melbourne set to reach 8.5 million by 2050, the rapid installation of new underground infrastructure to facilitate the city’s growth has also triggered criticism on the treatment of  the urban underground as a kind of sub terra nullius—as an epistemologically blank slate.[2] Such criticism exposes a colonial Australia’s problematic relationship to land and its embedded notion that ‘land is a sink.’ 

Consequently, the MUSEUM of (Subsurface) INFRASTRUCTURE & CONTAMINANTS (MoSIC) encourages visitors to explore subsurface infrastructure as well as the contaminants which run-off from urban activity. In doing so, MoSIC challenges the sanitary nature of encasement in the typical displays of museums, by designing spaces for people to confront their unforeseen ancestral and own toxic waste coagulating below the surface. This is an underground museum that critiques preconceived notions of waste and reimagines its future potential. 

(Click each image to read more) 

 

 [1] Graeme Davison, David Dunstan, and Chris McConville, The Outcasts of Melbourne : Essays in Social History (Allen & Unwin, 1985).

[2] Maria De Lourdes Melo Zurita, ‘Challenging Sub Terra Nullius: A Critical Underground Urbanism Project,’ 2020, Australian Geographer 51, no.3 (Feb 2020).

[3] Matthew Gandy, ‘Cyborg Urbanization: Complexity and Monstrosity in the Contemporary City, ’  International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29, no.1 (March 2005).