Message from the Dean, UNSW Built Environment
PROFESSOR HELEN LOCHHEAD
Congratulations to our 2016 class on completing your Master of Architecture at UNSW Built Environment. We warmly welcome to our alumni community.
Our Master of Architecture program, taught by internationally recognised academics, renowned professors of practice and award–winning visiting architects, provides a firm foundation to launch your professional careers. All contribute to the shared Built Environment vision, to design and build sustainable, liveable cities. As a graduate, you will be equipped as an agile professional prepared for a global career.
The website is an inspiring and creative compilation of your work during the course of your studies. Each year, our students create projects that understand, respond to, and enhance specific socio-cultural and economic contexts. It results in a portfolio of work that tells many interwoven stories. When viewed together, they provide glimpses into our world – and the potential to improve it with clear design articulation and innovative ideas that challenge the status quo.
Some of you hold a degree focused solely on the study of architecture and others may have chosen a specialisation in high performance technology, housing, urban conditions, or social agency. Together, you and your future colleagues will contribute to architectural design and place-making solutions to many of the challenges facing our cities – solutions that, today, have yet to be imagined. In your future pursuits, I urge you to keep following your individual passions while welcoming multi-disciplinary collaboration. This will produce authentic, multi-layered designs that stand the test of time in a quickly changing world.
We look forward to hearing about your future endeavours and the impacts they have on the communities that use your projects. Please update us with your news and updates throughout your career at BEalumni@unsw.edu.au. I also invite you to join our LinkedIn group (UNSW Built Environment) to maintain connections with your peers and other UNSW Built Environment alumni as you move into the next steps of your career. We are also grateful to our alumni who support future students with scholarships, prizes, internships and mentoring programs.
It is a real delight to support and celebrate our graduates’ achievements and I look forward to seeing how you choose to shape your future. Thank you for the energy and passion you have devoted to your degree at UNSW. I wish you all the very best.
Message from the Director, Architecture
PROFESSOR XING RUAN
Musings on Specialisation and All-round Education
Works included in the 2016 Master of Architecture Graduation Studio exhibition are of particular significance, for they mark the implementation of the new curriculum, where the students have choices to pursue a particular direction in architecture with in-depth study through design studio and a suite of associated supporting courses. The four identified “streams”, as we call them, are: urban conditions, social agency, high performance technology and housing. This distinctive character of UNSW Architecture however should not be mistaken for a narrow specialist education in this professional degree.
The ills of specialist education go against the nature of architectural education, which by nature is “inter-disciplinary”. The overuse of this expression by the managerial class as a buzzword has rendered it quite meaningless. What exactly are the ills of narrow specialist training in a technical fashion? And what exactly is the meaning of discipline-crossing and boundary-connecting education?
The answer, though almost lost in the mists of time, lies in the wisdom of all-round education in the humanist tradition. The most vivid illustration comes from Confucius some 2500 years ago:
A disciple asks Confucius: “Master, can you teach me gardening?” The Master replies: “You had better go and ask an old gardener.” The obedient disciple leaves to find an old gardener. “What a moron!” says the Master to his other disciples. Early in Analects, the Master already laments: “A man is not a pot!” Confucius, it seems, refers to the ethos of all-round liberal education: a cultivated man, or woman, is not a utensil with a single use.
But before I continue with more of what might be easily dismissed as nostalgia of a remote past of little relevance, I shall remind the reader of a surprising kindred spirit of Confucius in our age. Einstein, indisputably a rational and scientific modern mortal, too detests a specialist as “a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person”.
In addition to the division of labour in Adam Smith’s modern economy, the necessity of specialisation nonetheless is justified by the severe limitation of an individual’s life span, and, in the case of most of us ordinary mortals, intelligence. In order to make any meaningful and tangible contribution to our collective intelligence and knowledge production, especially in the case of the vast inter-disciplinary field of architecture as both a profession and a body of knowledge, an in-depth study of a particular area and having it tested through the natural site of integration in a design studio should be seen as a response to the increasingly contested problem of specialisation versus all-round education.
Like any prologue to a book, it is my hope that this particular context under which the works in this website were produced will provide the reader with some tools to understand and cast perceptive judgement on the student work. It is also against this background that I offer my warmest congratulations to the students on their wide ranging scope and the depth of their pursuit in their graduation project. Needless to say, none of which would have happened without the ablest steering by the course convenor Dr Russell Rodrigo and his team for this pioneering venture.
Message from the Studio Convenor
Dr RUSSELL RODRIGO
Welcome to Utopia Redux, a celebration of the work of the 2016 graduands in the Master of Architecture program, Faculty of Built Environment UNSW Australia. This website and exhibition represents the culmination of our students’ studies and offers a snapshot of the creative and technical abilities they have gained over their architectural education.
The Master of Architecture program provides a framework where the contemporary city can be imagined, debated and tested. This is particularly true of the graduating year of the program which provides the educational framework for developing students’ ability to articulate their individual architectural interests. The year-long final design project commences in Semester 1 where emphasis is placed on research, analysis and the precise framing of an architectural proposal. In Semester 2, students focus on the design development of an architectural project presented at an ambitious level of programmatic, spatial, material, environmental and technological integration and resolution. We aim for a broad range of projects, from those grounded in contemporary architectural practice through to more speculative projects.
Throughout the year the studio community benefitted from the supportive and creative input of practicing and academic architects, prominent guests, community activists and other interested parties.
The projects seek a reconceptualization and critique of utopian desires through the lens of architecture and its relationship with the spatial and material dimensions of food, hyperdensity, resilience and dwelling. The spectrum of architectural approaches demonstrate our students’ capacity to respond creatively and responsibly to the challenges of contemporary practice.
Congratulations to all our 2016 graduands. You have successfully completed a demanding two-year Master of Architecture program. The quality, confidence and intellectual rigour demonstrated in your graduation projects offers an indication of the emerging talent that will contribute to the design of our built environments in the future..