HotHouse Symposium

27 - 28 July 2010

Utzon Room

Sydney Opera House

Project Launch Party

6pm, 27 July


Sydney Opera House

HotHouse at the Sydney Opera House, 27-28 July 2010, is a “collective experiment” initiated and led by the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at UNSW in association with Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design and the City of Sydney.

HotHouse brings together artists, designers, curators and creative thinkers in a quest to develop models for sustainable environmental change. This “collective experiment” calls upon art and design to offer practical means of transforming spaces, environments, and even cities in ways that are enduring and energising, and that, most importantly, engage all sectors of the community.

HotHouse seeks to cultivate a new cultural ecology in which the arts play a key role, working with the planners and users of city spaces to address urgent environmental problems.

To effect change, HotHouse will reconceive large-scale exhibitions and the process of curating. The term curator stems from the Latin word “curare” – to care for, traditionally referring to the care of museum objects. HotHouse proposes that we no longer curate art but curate space. More importantly, the responsibility to care for space or place extends to all citizens, communities, and industries, as well as to the cultural sector. At the HotHouse symposium, cultural practitioners will bring to bear their expertise in creative transformation to develop practical solutions with application in everyday spaces—solutions that can inspire ordinary citizens or school children, and that may be extended to or reworked in a variety of contexts, from the corporate Atrium to the backyard.

HotHouse symposium speakers will develop exciting approaches to the City of Sydney’s 2030 vision and offer new ways of addressing the challenge of sustainable development. Speakers include design thinkers such as Bruce Mau (live from Chicago) who has spearheaded community-driven projects for large-scale sustainable change in both North and South America, Tony Fry, Director of Team D/E/S and founder of the EcoDesign Foundation, and Adrian Parr, University of Cincinnati; artists/designers Janet Laurence, Dan Hill, Jennifer Turpin, Allan Giddy, Mathieu Gallois, David Trubridge, Richard Goodwin, Carbon Arts, Makeshift and Digital Eskimo; new media writers such as Mark Pesce, one of the early pioneers in Virtual Reality and co-inventor of VRML; and international curators such as Hou Hanru (San Francisco Art Institute), pioneer of exhibitions that operate in everyday city spaces, and Michaela Crimmin (former director of the UK RSA, Art & Ecology Centre) leading independent curator specialising in art for the public domain.

Significant, sustainable change requires collaboration and collective effort. Shifting focus from the sheer magnitude of the environmental problem and an attendant need for colossal or exorbitant solutions, the guiding principle of HotHouse is that of micro-change and universal, networked participation. Micro-change does not indicate minor impact. On the contrary, it refers to an interconnection of small changes networked for the vast potential of expansion.

The HotHouse network, through its various hubs and meeting points aims to facilitate the best kind of knowledge transfer— to ensure that practical and engaging solutions are delivered.

The HotHouse symposium is a point of departure, launching a longer-term project that builds on current NIEA research on urbanisation, community and practical aesthetics, funded by the Australian Research Council. Further events from 2010-14 will be hosted by NIEA, Object and our industry partners. For project updates and news, visit the HotHouse blog.

Ticket price: $185 (standard), $130 (concession)
Event Tickets: Sydney Opera House box office
Event Inquiries: Rachael Kiang:

HotHouse welcomes collaborations and partnerships with institutions and individuals.

For sponsorship and institution partnership opportunities, please contact Professor Jill Bennett:

For individual collaborations, please contact:

Urban sketch lab

Digital Eskimo designed and built a digital sketching tool especially for the symposium.

View the sketches