A unique international student exchange programme involving Australian and Indonesian architecture students is currently working on prototype designs for street vendor shelters that can be quickly erected or dismantled.

A common sight on streets in most Asian cities, the humble street vendor cart and shelter is a key driver of local economies, serving the needs of the community by providing goods and services. Indonesian native Dr Rizal Muslimin, one of the organisers of the exchange who lectures in architecture at the University of Sydney, explained that these temporary carts and shelters often become permanent fixtures that cause major congestion and cleanliness problems.

To address these issues, students from the University of Sydney and Bandung Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Bandung - ITB) in Indonesia are taking part in a two-week international exchange to redesign the vendor shelter by giving it a makeover. 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, using the university’s advanced digital fabrication labs to develop prototype designs for a deployable, lightweight shelter.

According to Dr Muslimin, students have been asked to come up with a portable, low-cost structure that is quick and simple to erect and dismantle, and uses materials that are widely available in Indonesia. 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.

This will enable the students to check whether their design will hold up in the local environment and also receive feedback from local vendors on the design’s feasibility. Dr Muslimin described the project as a great opportunity for their architecture students to collaborate on a real-life problem with likeminded students from Australia’s closest neighbour.

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

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.

Image: Architecture students from the University of Sydney and Bandung Institute of Technology finalise their design concept Bunga Bandung (translation: flower). L-R: Fauzan Alfi A (ITB), Stephanie Cheung (USyd), Laras Winarso (ITB) and Matthew Hunter (USyd). Photo: Sarah Rhodes.