From outhouse to fashion house: Students create pret-a-portaloo

Ever thought high fashion was going down the toilet?

For the past four years a group of Monash University architecture, art and design students have translated some of Melbourne's landmarks into couture in an annual show.

While previous years have featured dresses that riff on the National Gallery and Hamer Hall, this year's entries are flush with creations perhaps best described as pret-a-portaloo. Many of the outfits created for the Wearing the Infrastructure City project are inspired by Melbourne's best designed public toilets.

"Toilet blocks ... are generally overlooked, yet they are incredible as sort of small bits of architecture by incredible architects littered through the city," says Callum Morton, head of fine art at Monash Art Design and Architecture.

Architecture students Marcus Shanahan and Kim Botha reinterpreted the Calder Woodburn rest stop at Goulburn Valley Highway, Shepparton.

Mr Shanahan said the building, designed by BKK Architects, had structural and colour elements that could inspire a wearable piece.

It took the students five weeks to design - including fitting the architecture to human scale - and then three months to make, using corrugated roof sheeting, fabrics and foam.

"Because of the vertical corrugations of the toilet block, we thought it would just translate really nicely into a longer, elegant piece," Mr Shanahan said. "It turned out super-great. It is an elegant abstraction of the toilet block."

Monash University lecturer Colby Vexler said infrastructural projects were often overlooked as formal or aesthetic pieces and considered only as an amenity or a functional object.

"These projects hope to capture the diverse aesthetic, compositional, material and formal qualities of these infrastructure beyond their amenity value," Mr Vexler said.

Wearing the Infrastructure City designs will be on display at MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, from 5pm-7pm on Saturday.

This story From outhouse to fashion house: Students create pret-a-portaloo first appeared on The Age.