Simona Castricum

Naarm - AU
Architecture / Music

Photo: Elliott Lauren

Simona Castricum is a crossdisciplinary creative and academic from Naarm—Melbourne working on Wurundjeri land of Kulin Nation. Simona engages architecture and music in a speculative ‘world-building’ practice to render queer and trans futures.

Simona is a solo musician and producer, while in architecture, she is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne, and an Associate at Parlour: Gender, Equity, Architecture. Her work gathers queer and trans lived testimony into generous autoethnography and speculative fictions that reimagine relationships between the tactile, virtual, and affective conditions of our shared urban environment.

Simona has been a design practitioner for almost thirty years. Her work as a designer, musician, academic, and public advocate for queer and transgender equity offers an important expansion to the lens of gender and sexuality in architectural practice and design. Her research and writing develops queer and transgender epistemologies broadly across academic and professional silos.

Simona has established a career as one of Australia’s leading solo synthpop acts and producers over twenty years. Simona has been recognised as a nominee for two Music Victoria Awards: Best Electronic Act and Best Solo Artist (2020). Her third full-length studio album—Panic/Desire—debuted at #1 on the AIR 100% Independent Album Chart. Together with collaborator the late Daphne Camf, Simona formed the duo SaD. SaD was nominated for Music Victoria’s Best Electronic Act after releasing its debut record, Saturn Rules the Material World (2020).

Signing to Dinosaur City Records in 2023, Simona released her fourth album, SINK. Conceived as a live performance in collaboration with visual artist Carla Zimbler, it was a career-defining milestone for Simona—a manifestation of her musical and architectural vision, with sell-out seasons on debut at Arts House, VIVID Sydney and Midsumma Festival.

Simona’s musical curation draws from her deep knowledge and experiences of underground techno, house, electro, Italo, new wave, new beat and post-punk flavours. Her percussive live performances and DJ sets include Golden Plains, Dark Mofo, Soft Centre, VIVID Sydney, Sydney World Pride, Melbourne Music Week, Midsumma, Gaytimes, Strawberry Fields, Pitch and Beyond The Valley. She is a former resident of Australia’s premier fetish club, Fantastic. Her music has been remixed by Berlin’s Aérea Negrot, Melbourne's Chiara Kickdrum and Various Asses. She has also remixed and produced for Courtney Barnett, Cong Josie, m8riarchy, Nite Fruit and Pillow Pro.

Simona is a former radio broadcaster at 3RRR and 3PBS Melbourne. She has appeared on panels as a speaker and moderator, including Melbourne Knowledge Week ambassador in 2019, Melbourne Design Week, MPavilion, CHANGES, LISTEN, BIGSOUND, Women of the World Festival, Emerging Writers Festival and Brunswick Music Festival.
Simona completed her PhD at the Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne: a creative practice thesis titled What If Safety Becomes Permanent? Music as a Site of Queering and Transing. It examined how trans and queer space is produced through musical practice in architecture against urban conditions of cisnormativity and transphobia. Her PhD received two of the University of Melbourne’s highest accolades, winning the Chancellor's Prize for excellence in a PhD thesis, as well as the John Grice Research Award for excellence in architectural research at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

Her academic papers include ‘Music as a Site of Transing’ in Queer Architectures (2023), ‘When Program is the Enemy of Function’ for Architecture & Culture (2017), and Say Clitoris: Queers in Space’ in Urban Australia and Post-Punk: Exploring Dogs in Space (2020). She has been published in the anthologies Nothing To Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender Diverse Australia (2022), From The Heart: A Collection from Women of Letters (2016), and Going For It: Women Tell the Truth about Great Sex (2017).

Simona’s education experience presents trans and queer theory in architecture, urban planning, gender studies, and criminology. Her academic research informs effective practice in understanding trans and gender-diverse experiences in the built environment. She has consulted on major public architectural projects such as the Victorian Pride Centre, Arts Centre Melbourne Redevelopment, and the NGV Contemporary Design Competition (with Melbourne Cultural Collective).

As a member of Music Victoria’s Women’s Advisory Panel from 2017-2018, Simona co-authored the Gender Diversity Draft Strategy for Best Practice Guidelines for Live Music Venues. Simona’s writing on trans and gender-diverse advocacy and representation has been published in The Guardian, VICE, i-D, and The Lifted Brow journals.

SINK (2022) w Carla Zimbler
Live at Phoenix Central Park
Warrang (Sydney AU)
Photo: Billy Zammit

Golden Plains Festival (2020)
Live at Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre
Wadawurrung Country (Victoria AU)
Photo: Joshua Braybrook

Store >
SINK (2023) - SC
Dinosaur City Records
12” Vinyl

Saturn Rules The Material World (2020) - SaD
Trans-Brunswick Express Records
12” Vinyl

Panic/Desire (2020) - SC
Trans-Brunswick Express Records
12” VinylTriumph — EP (2020) - SC
LISTEN Records
12” Vinyl
#triggerwarining40 (2016) - SC
LISTEN Records
12” VinylExotic Ladies of Birobodzhan (2014) - SC
Compact Disc
Castricum, S. (2023). ‘Music as a site of transing’, in Jobst, M., Stead, N. (ed). Queering Architecture. UK, Bloomsbury

Castricum, S. (2022). ‘What if safety becomes permanent? Architecture and music as a site of transing’, [PhD thesis, University of Melbourne]. University of Melbourne Online Repository.

Castricum, S. (2022). ‘When I tell people I’m 47, they don’t believe me’, in Elkin, S., Gallagher, A., Rees, Y., Sayed, B., Ed. (2022). Nothing to Hide: Voices of Trans and Gender-Diverse Australia. Sydney, Allen & Unwin
Castricum, S. (2021). Queer Awakenings. Girls Like Us. MYCKET. Belgium, Jessica Gysel

Castricum, S. (2021) Interview with OFFICE. in OFFICE., Muratore., T. (eds). The Politics of Public Space Volume 4. Melbourne, OFFICE

Castricum, S. (2020). ‘Say clitoris: Queers in space’, in Nichols, D., Perillo, S. (eds.). Urban Australia and Post-Punk, Exploring Dogs in Space. London, UK, Palgrave Macmillan

Castricum, S., Moore, T. (2020). ‘Queering architecture’, in Berry, J., Moore, T., Kalms, N., Bawden, G. (ed). Contentious Cities. UK, Routledge

Castricum, S. (2017). ‘When program is the enemy of function… Gender-nonconforming experiences of architectural space’. Architecture and Culture, 5:3. UK, Routledge

Music Victoria. (2021). Transgender & Gender Diverse Inclusion, Best Practice Guidelines for Live Music Venues. (Co-author)

Castricum, S. (2021) Interview with OFFICE. in OFFICE., Muratore., T. (eds). The Politics of Public Space Volume 3. Melbourne, OFFICE

Castricum, S. (2018) Public bathrooms are gender identity battlefields. What if we just do it right? The Guardian

Castricum, S. (2015). ‘Never Mind the Bollocks, this is ARM’, in Raggatt, M., et al. (ed). Mongrel Rapture: The Architecture of Ashton Raggatt McDougall. Melbourne, AU, Uro Publications

Symposium >
Hu., A.L., Castricum, S. (2019) [Symposium]. Beyond The Binary. Transformations: Action on Equity, Melbourne, AU, University of Melbourne, Parlour.

Castricum, S. (2016). ‘When program is the enemy of function’. [Symposium]. Architecture Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies. KTH Royal Institute of Stockholm, SWE. Architecture & Humanities Research Association.

Exhibition >
Castricum, S., Goodnow, G. ‘WAYFINDING’, in Break the Binaries (2023). [Exhibition]. Science Gallery, Melbourne. 18 February 2023 – 17 June 2023 (Image by Kayzar)

Castricum, S. ‘The Present’, ‘Supertouch’, ‘Nights Don’t Breathe’, ‘No Allegiance’, in Who’s Afraid of Public Space? (2022). [Exhibition]. Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. 4 December 2021 – 20 March 2022

Castricum, S. (Artist). WORKAROUND: What if Safety Becomes Permanent? (2018). [Exhibition]. RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne. 27 July 2018

Interview > 
Skujins, A., (2023). ‘Heartbeats: ‘SINK’ is Simona Castricum’s survival allegory‘. NME Australia

Anderson, K., (2021). [Podcast] ‘Lean into my transness (with Simona Castricum). Lost Spaces Podcast

Lin, A. (2021)  ‘Simona Castricum and the art of ‘queering’ space’. Future Visions - Assemble Papers

Lal. K., (2016). ’Speaking with Simona’. Swampland Magazine.

2024 Simona Castricum / T-BE / SIMONASPRGRFKA

Simona acknowledges the Wurundjeri People of Kulin Nation, the traditional owners of the land on which she works. Respect to Elders, past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.