UNSW Built Environment:Talia Keyes Graduation Studio 2010 – A Courthouse Old and New

25 01 2011


Talia Keyes, 2010 Master of Architecture Graduand shares her thoughts on her graduating project titled “Representations of Truth and the Veil of Ignorance”:

St James Court model

The courthouse is a institution in which appointed representatives of the people attempt to improve the consistent exercise of power over the collective society, making it more effective, efficient and imposing. In general terms more disciplined, resulting in a power relation that is both visible and unverifiable. 

As part of the studio brief students engaged in researching architectural conservation principles as a means of understanding the social and cultural significance of the Sydney CBD Heritage Precinct (inclusive of Hyde Park Barracks, St James Church, King Street Court Complex- NSW Supreme Court and Hyde Park). 

This model featured as part of my investigation into the conservation and upgrading of the 1895 St James Road Court in the King Street Courts Complex – the first purpose built banco court and the last remaining courtroom awaiting refurbishment. Here 16 sections of the courtroom have been laser cut from stock standard MDF to represent the current state of the courtroom, an arrangement that internally reflects little change from its original character. Intermittently 4 sheets of perspex  have been added and etched with plans for a proposed upgrade to satisfy current standards for disable access into the well of the court and maintain and draw attention to the symbolic positioning of the various players without significance impact to the existing internal fabric. 

The viewer is positioned as a member of the jury as an illustration of the active role of the public in the dispensing of justice. The proposal includes minor changes to the existing joinery – reducing the size of the existing dock by half, enlarging the size of the jury box to facilitate 15 members, opening up the court well to aliviate clutter and confinement and a reconstructed witness box such that the original player arrangement, dynamic and symbolic intent remains consistent.

What remained of primary importance throughout this process was ensuring that the St James court was allowed to celebrate the significance of its continued use through preservation. 

Written by Talia Keyes




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