Sydney architecture students give street vendor shelter a design makeover

The humble street vendor cart and shelter that lines the streets of many Asian cities and is a key driver of local economies will get a design makeover by Australian and Indonesian architecture students this month.

A group of students from the University of Sydney Architecture School and Bandung Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Bandung – ITB) in Indonesia are taking part in a two-week international exchange to redesign the imposing structures that are widely found on the streets of Indonesia.

University of Sydney Architecture School
Architecture students from the University of Sydney and Bandung Institute of Technology finalise their design concept Bunga Bandung (translation: flower). Photo: Sarah Rhodes via University of Sydney

Indonesian native Dr Rizal Muslimin, one of the organisers of the exchange who lectures in architecture at the University of Sydney said, “While street vendors provide goods and services to the local community, their temporary carts and shelters often become permanent fixtures that cause major congestion and cleanliness problems. Yet street vendors are a vibrant part of the local culture and an important driver of local business,” said Dr Muslimin.

Eight architecture students from Indonesia are spending one week in Sydney working with six students from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning. The group are using the university’s advanced digital fabrication labs to develop prototype designs for a deployable, lightweight shelter.

“Students are asked to come up with portable, low-cost structure that is quick and simple to erect and dismantle. They must also consider materials that are widely available in Indonesia, which they will use to build their structure,” said Dr Muslimin.

After developing the designs in Sydney, the student group will return to Bandung in Indonesia to spend a week building their prototypes and test driving the new shelters on the streets of Indonesia.

“The students will be involved in seeing if their design holds up in the local environment and getting feedback from local vendors on whether it meets their needs.

“They will also gain a greater understanding of the informal street economy, which is the livelihood of many people in developing countries,” he said.

Muslimin believes that the prototype shelters may also have the potential for use in local community markets in Australia.

“The needs of stallholders in Australia’s own community markets are not dissimilar to the Indonesians. They both need something that is easy to transport and set up and pull down in a short space of time,” said Dr Muslimin.

The travelling studio is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia.

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