Porosity: The revision of public space in the city using public art to test the functional boundaries of built form.

Dates: 2003-2005

Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant

Artist: Richard Goodwin

Assistants: Tia Chim, Nadia Wagner, Sarah Jamison, Rob Besson,

Video: What a Building Desires


Richard Goodwin’s Porosity project tests the functional boundaries ascribed to the physical dimensions of public space in the city and envisions new possibilities for urban metamorphosis.

The Porosity Project conducted from 2003-2005, supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant aimed to do this via the device of public art and a methodology of comprehensive mapping of both internal and external spaces in Sydney. A series of performative experiments were conducted on the urban fabric of corporate-private architecture in which porosity researchers entered foyers, lift-shafts and hallways, staying as long as possible without intruding on occupants and attempting to remain unnoticed by security. Goodwin named spaces of public possibility within the corporate-private skin chiastic spaces. Over a period of three years, the researchers documented their discoveries on chiastic spaces including information regarding population, movement and architectural materiality to produce a porosity index. The resulting index gave a figure, which could be used to compare the degree of ‘publicness’ within the traditionally private boundary of the exterior architectural skin.

Porosity Indexes, in conjunction with a tri-part series of chiastic models produced a series of evocative images and animations exploring the possibility of connection between internal zones of public potentiality. These projections constitute a sketch for an urban metamorphosis based on existing buildings and a philosophy of parasitic-prosthetic architectural interventions. The move undermines an existing fetish with the pedestal building as well as compromising the increasingly closed body of architecture in the age of terror. For Goodwin, however, to interconnect and adapt existing architectural bodies in a way that produces a porous urban architecture not only creates a richer social fabric but is also a direct and efficient intervention, sustainably allowing for existing cities to expand in symbiotic metamorphosis.