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Creative Spaces: The Streetbox

By Jane Lyons,
10th April 2013
An architect proves that
good things come in
small packages.
o find Melbourne`s smallest creative space, head down the
warren of back lanes in Abbotsford, make a turn at the giant
shoe and look for a plain wooden door. There`s no 'eat me or
'drink me instructions, but you will find the portal to the inspired
imaginings of a young architect.
Frustrated by the lack of open space afforded by inner city living
and itching to build something after years of university theory, Dave
Brodziak has turned an old doorway alcove in Mayfield Street into
a pint-sized place to call home away from home.
Even those who manage not to blink and miss the door still find
themselves a little bemused when they do see the space. According
to Dave, it`s not uncommon for people on their first visit to 'oooh
politely when their expressions say otherwise. Measuring just 2.1
metres high, 1.6 metres wide and 1.14 metres deep, the streetbox`
does resemble a rustic Swedish sauna that took a wrong turn
But this is the TARDIS (it`s bigger on the inside) of creative spaces,
with a kitchenette, miniature TV, radio, icebox, bench, fold-down
table and bookshelves all slotted together inside. It`s also a testament
to Brodziak`s love of 60s-style built-in design.
Photography: Peter Tarasiuk ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
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'I`ve got a particular like for the built-in aesthetic, whether it`s
kitchens or living spaces. The function of objects is determined by
the human body, he says.
Brodziak started work on the streetbox in 2010 after he noticed the
doorway alcove across the laneway from his Abbotsford apartment.
It was slapped on the backside of a light industrial building, where a
copper and enamel business has been lacquering up goods since
1944, including babies` shoes (light bulb moment: ah, the shoe!).
The unused entrance had long been the dwelling of dirt, drugs and
drags, but Brodziak believed that less could be so much more. He
sought and gained permission from the company to build in it.
He quickly garnered a lot of interest from passersby and neighbours,
both while building the box and while using the finished space to
enjoy the afternoon sun, read the paper or entertain friends. He has
other plans for it, too.
'It`s quite social. People walking past engage more than they
would, he says. 'I always thought you could project from it, or do
a very small play. But it depends on people`s willingness to engage
with it. I think it would be quite fun to have an event there and for
people to not know about it and just arrive there - for it to be a bit
Engagement has been a central theme for Brodziak, whose room
with a view has become one with a vision that extends beyond this
little corner of Melbourne. He believes there are many more small
spaces in the city that could be put to good use.
'Once I started to think about identifying these types of spaces and
seeing the potential occupational use in each of them, I started
seeing them everywhere - little nooks that were very small or
slightly bigger, he says.
In November 2011, he took the City of Melbourne`s planning
scheme, which rates the CBD`s laneways according to potential,
and focused on the underdogs. He identified around 63 small spaces
in 50 of the council`s worst` laneways, highlighting seven case
studies. The spaces range from two square metres to 15 square
metres, and proposed uses include a series of workspaces, a
bookstore, a sleeping shelter, an elevated garden platform and a
series of art exhibition spaces. He wants to draw all of these spaces
into what he calls The Metropolitan Small Space Register.
'It`s about bringing together all the spaces that potentially could be
used and making them available. It would be a database that anyone
could access and then people could come up with proposals for how
they want to use the space. Whether it`s short or medium or long
term. Whether it`s a little commercial venture or just a work space or
for display.
Brodziak and his architectural company, Insider Outsider, plan to
promote the register to the City of Melbourne.
'I really wanted to encourage people to inhabit the [laneway]
space, he says. 'Evidence of people occupying space is what gives
character, memory and knowability to the city.
1 FOOD & DRINK Maturing Nicely with a
Cheesemonger from the Grocer
2 ARTS &
Creative Spaces: The Streetbox
3 FOOD & DRINK Fumanchu
4 ARTS &
Get the 411 on Yoga 213
5 FOOD & DRINK Little Ramen Bar
The Untitled Shop
1st October
Backstage Tours
of The Arts Centre
31st January
If the Shoe Fits,
Keep Them
19th August
The Very West
31st October
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