As university students, Vesna Trobec and Langzi Chiu decided to work together on their graduation project, Conversations with Middle Head. The project was nominated for the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Design Medal and exhibited around Sydney at various galleries. This project marks the beginning of Langzi’s and Vesna’s professional partnership as well as outlines the philosophical positioning from which they begun their careers.

The brief asked for interventions to Middle Head, Sydney Harbour National Park, that should be speculative and seek to highlight, heighten, amplify or otherwise add value to the latent qualities and opportunities inherent in the site and structures.

The project is an investigation into the nature of experience. By foregrounding the erasure of history and challenging visitors’ notions of the ‘natural experience’ often associated with parklands, Middle Head becomes a framework to rethink what the preservation of history, as well as our experience of ‘nature’ and ‘time’ can mean within urban environments.

Key points on the site are selected where intense and unusual collisions between historic, geographic, and the speculative layers occur. Uncovering the richness within these spaces through overlays, we develop a series of actions to the site such as the insertion of monolithic walls, cuts, and erasures that edit, enhance and amplify ones experience of these places.

The visitors’ experience becomes intensely personal within dramatic and destabilising moments as they are confronted with the scale and natural forces of the site and its ‘sublime’ qualities that potentially increase as the complexity of the site develops over the course of time.