A Portable Territory

“A Portable Territory,” with its lightweight and movable structure, fosters interaction in a globalised world.

Succahs’ textile interiors rememorate the nomadic shelters used during the forty years it took to cross the desert. They recreate a distant place in time and space using the familiar shape of a hut. They are territories, domestic and temporary territories.

Australia’s land is often occupied in a similar way. Precarious structures seem to provide the literal and psychological safeness necessary to address its landscape. Confronted with the unknown, we reproduce familiar conditions of in-habitation with the precarious means at hand.

Australian vernacular architecture shares analogous principles. Whether erected to host the original custodians or to remind us that land ownership is a colonial abstraction, it embraces temporality and lightness. It states a claim over the territory by avoiding permanent occupation.

There is a long history of architecture that recognises the monumental power of fragile materials. And there are endless examples of architecture that refused to stay still, to occupy. Our succah does both. It is not a place;

It is a trajectory

It is a portable territory

It is a wandering structure build with scaffolding tubes and covered with a botanical fabric.

Its structure is built with off-the-shelf components

Its enclosure covers two and a half walls; The fabric enclosure is made of flags; they let the air pass through. The flags appropriate the international code of signals which vessels use to communicate important messages regarding safety and navigation. They spell: “ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS WILL BE ABORIGINAL LAND”. The botanicals are hung from the roof and they map the endemic species of the Waverley area. The botanicals partially shield us from the sky; they are a refuge for the local birds.

During its time erected it will change the location and engage with the other succahs.

Its shape is the movement.

Urtzi Grau and Guillermo Fernandez Abascal are international architects and researchers based in Sydney. Originally from Spain, they bring a wealth of experience working at international architecture studios, bringing a critical outlook to Australia.

Operating as a collaboration, their work has been exhibited at international exhibitions and been short-listed for many overseas commissions. Currently both firms are working on civic buildings, including a library in Italy and a marketplace in Spain.

Urtzi Grau, Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal worked in collaboration with Charlotte Haywood with Leah Giblin and Selena Murray.







Shalom, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052

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Studio 9A, Level 1, 94 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

0408 647 547



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Succah by the Sea, an installation at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2019 | Supported by Shalom

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