Textures of aluminium: Attending to situated entanglements of C21st construction

Ms Anna Tweeddale1

1RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia


The phenomenon of construction connects a moment of tranquil suburbia with the pisolithic geology of bauxite through refined aluminium. Situated on a plinth of steel-reinforced concrete, the lightweight extension of House A is framed in timber; clad with corrugated steel, plywood, plasterboard, aluminium-framed glazing and polycarbonate sheet; and finished with fixtures of aluminium and steel alongside various polymers, ceramics and cut of timber. Any one of these could be used as a lens to examine the complex entanglements through which a material becomes available for construction. Aluminium’s relatively recent emergence as a construction material is historically contingent with, and exemplifies, affective narratives of C21st modernity – smooth material flows, ultra-lightweight strength, recyclability and polished modular precision. In Australia this gleaming materiality converges geopolitically with the granular textures, toxicity and frictions of aluminium’s extraction, refinement and production. This paper traces bauxite/aluminium through the figure of ‘House A (is for Analogue)’: an iterative research project situated with/in architectural praxis that deploys diffractive techniques to attend to specific material-discursive practices encountered in construction and reveal latent human/nonhuman entanglements. This paper proposes that this work, of attending to situated entanglements of C21st construction, is prerequisite to imagining the context of human habitation as otherwise.


Anna Tweeddale is a practising architect, artist and urban researcher. She is founding director of Australian research design practice Studio Apparatus and has worked in Australia, Europe, China and the Middle East. Anna is a current PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at RMIT University, having previously completed a research Masters in Architecture and Urban Culture at the Metropolis Postgraduate Program (CCCB and UPC, Barcelona). She has taught architectural/urban design, history and theory at RMIT, Monash and Melbourne Universities. Her recent praxis/research identifies contemporary construction as a fertile site of investigation into complex material entanglements.

Email: at@studioapparatus.com

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