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MOD. Lesson #13: How to leap across the void and into the known

Posted 9 Feb

Anika Johnstone

Tomorrow (Saturday 10 February) marks three months until we launch MOD.

For the last 12 and a bit months, we have thinking about a space that is largely unknown and mostly unseen. While we have had floor plans, dimensions, ceiling grids and approximate locations, we have been limited, since January last year, to a once-monthly visit inside at best. I reckon I’ve spent a total of 6 hours inside the building that will become MOD. on May 10.

Designing for spaces you can’t see

We have had to design MOD. at arm’s length. That means that as a team we have had to become adept at picturing things in 3D, moving around spaces that don’t exist yet (or which are full of scaffolds, tiles and builder’s dust) and guessing at what visitors might do when they enter the space. We’ve been creative with the tools we’ve used. We’ve learnt to map journeys, role play, create 3D models and Sketch Ups, test scenarios, design with users, ask for help from other museums and galleries who have done this before, and to try and not panic (even though sometimes that feels like the very best option).

University of South Australia’s new Health Innovation Building, and our beautiful new home, is now nearing completion. So, with three months to go, we are about to get the keys to our new digs.

The team is itching to get in. To touch things. To walk the space. To feel the wall finishes and see the flooring. To mark out where things will go.

We know this will be a very different phase in our journey to build and launch a new futuristic museum of discovery in Adelaide. And it is unlikely to be without a few small hiccups along the way.

Next three months be like

Our next three months are likely to be the most exciting and challenging we have faced as a team. Here’s a small insight into what we are working on:

Amidst all of this, we are already designing our second and third exhibitions.

Part of an exhibit for our Arcade Gallery

New problems, new solutions

Architecture and space are emerging as our new challenges. We’re navigating install of an intricate schedule of moving parts. We’re finding simple things like door widths are tripping us up. Components are having to be scaled down and split up to fit. We’ve discovered materials won’t do what we want them too, that we can’t stick to floors and that ceiling grids don’t always align to where we want to hang things.

We’re learning to solve problems on the fly and make quick decisions.

We’re also getting to test our ideas as final prototypes. We’re assessing and managing risks, and working through ways to enhance the visitor experience.

Part of navigating this transition from an unknown imagining to something tangible is being okay with leaping into a void.

We know there will be things we haven’t thought of yet that we probably won’t be able to change but we are really looking forward to the last stage of this ride.

Prototype of a tunnel we are creating for our Futures Gallery

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Where is MOD.?