17 Union Street Photo Competition Winner Announcement

17 Union Street by Neometro sits at the heart of Brunswick’s cultural verve. The development delivers better apartments for Brunswick amidst bike paths, local parks and gardens, public art and events, cafes and independent retail culminating in a vertical community reflective of Melbourne’s beautiful dynamism and amplified cultural vernacular.

To celebrate the buildings imminent completion, Neometro held a photo competition open to emerging and established photographers alike with the winners offered a 12 month banner space on the buildings facade. Asking the resonant question – How do we form villages in modern urban environments? – a winner and two runners-up were recently selected for their unique photographic interpretations on what denotes a modern village.

Established architectural photographer Derek Swalwell weighed in as judge, bringing with him a strong understanding of Neometro’s development ethos alongside preeminent experience photographing design and architecture in Australia and beyond. Derek’s unique views and aligned technical aptitude led him to crown RMIT student Felix Gailey’s work ‘Omnidirectional Sojourn’ as the winning entry. Felix’s photograph presents a unique perspective on a faceless person engaged in a private moment, leaning out from a nondescript building at the urban density around and below. Balancing familiarity with anonymity, the image is highly engaging and fulfils the all important ‘insert yourself here’ element that is so resonant in art. “The work has a great level of interaction and activation,” says Derek, “the viewer is almost in the frame which makes it so powerful, as though you are in the building, looking down over the person in an apartment below. It conjures apartment living, urban environments and all the sensory experience of living within a modern village.”

‘Omnidirectional Sojourn’ by Felix Gailey.

“For centuries societies have evolved largely thanks to their proximity to resources and shelter from the elements. Villages would form and flourish where the landscape provided bountiful access to food and goldilocks climates. Villages however have often been synonymous with horizontal layouts. Whereas more recently we have integrated more omnidirectional dwellings to our lifestyle. Verticality now provides a greater sum of people with access not just to basic needs such as food and safety, but also to culture, art and community. My image depicts a solitary stranger gazing into the horizon from their high-rise apartment. Far above the ground and facing towards the sunset, we observe a citizen of a modern village.” – Felix Gailey

A photograph by Zachariah Micalleff titled ‘Fernweh’ was one of two runners-up. The statement that accompanied his entry referenced a need to “shift our value from commodity to humanity” in order to form a community in modern times. This full-circle notion is reflective of older community sentiments before the advent of the digital and commercial era’s. Zachariah’s statement asks us “to push against our inherent drive to act alone and to be selfish, and instead search within ourselves for empathy. Rediscover your child-like love for the earth, and hold onto it tightly; you’ll miss its embrace in the end.”

‘Fernweh’ by Zachariah Micallef

The second runner-up was Brydie Singleton, an architecture graduate who entered a photograph depicting the juxtaposition between sky and built environment. “Souto de Moura plays with abstractionism to create two strong geometric red concrete volumes that sit proud in the land. These volumes possess such a bold presence, which is only fitting as the house for Paula Rego’s work, a renowned Portuguese artist and women’s rights activist from the 1960s. A modern woman who helped revolutionise the modern village.

‘Souto de Moura’ by Brydie Singleton

As 17 Union Street, Brunswick nears completion, the billboard featuring Felix’s winning photograph will be installed on Friday 27th August instilling a unique ambience on the building and integrating it further within the creative landscape and urban village atmosphere of Brunswick. 

Words by Tiffany Jade.