UNSW Built Environment Architectural Studies: Boris To

2 04 2009

I am a 4th year student currently undertaking Honours in Bachelor of Architectural Studies. It is an optional year between the 3-year Bachelor and the 2-year Masters program, which involves intensive research, critical and analytical thinking. My thesis was triggered by the final design project in my 3rd year of study, the Bondi Mediatheque proposal, where I opted to intervene with the national heritage building, Bondi Pavilion. The intention of my proposal was to rejuvenate and to extend this significant, but deteriorating cultural centre while setting a juxtaposition between the ‘historic’ and the ‘modern’ to express the past, present and future urban conditions of Bondi. Thus, my research this year is essentially a further investigation into the role of historic artefacts within the contemporary urban dynamics of Sydney – more specifically, the nature of history and memory in relation to architecture as well as how it informs the way we approach designs involving heritage items.

Why would anyone want to undertake the Honours research? Students have the opportunity of rigorously exploring a topic in the built environment that interests them; to develop independent learning and research skills; to boost their ability to think analytically and critically; to have their work published in academic journals at the end of their research (which is invaluable for any student’s future career and academic pursuits); and to obtain research grants if they decide to undertake a PhD. A thesis – not only in architecture, but any program within the built environment – does not have to manifest only as a written document.  My thesis, for example, will be a synthesis of writings and experimental designs, which will illuminate each other. This is where an individual gets the opportunity to conduct research (in a traditional sense of word) while generating designs to evaluate and represent his findings – design as research.  UNSW Built Environment offer courses that encourage students to work creatively between the theoretical and the hands-on approaches.

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