UNSW Built Environment Landscape Architecture: Shawna Ng

3 04 2009

Hi! My name is Shawna and I am a 2nd year Landscape Architecture student at UNSW. Choosing this course of study came almost naturally to me, after all, I always enjoyed drawing and designing (though I have to admit that before this, the furthest I had ever got in developing my artistic talent was doodling on my notes in class!). I love nature and have a passion for environmental stewardship too, which makes the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program a wonderful marriage of both, and an obvious choice.

Now that I have been in this course for over a year, I realised that I have oversimplified what landscape architecture is really all about. More than nature, this profession deals with space (which means almost everything and anything on earth!) and shapes it to improve the quality of human life—this gives landscape architecture one of the broadest scopes in the design field. While this obviously translates to hard work and late nights, I have never once regretted my choice of course. The intensive nature of the course has inspired and stretched me to grow beyond what I had previously perceived my own abilities to be. In addition, I now embrace the design culture to the extent that I have learnt to observe just about everything with new eyes. Just last week, as I starred at my dinner, the forms of food present on my plate actually provided inspiration for a design feature I could use for an upcoming project!

The strong emphasis on the experiential learning during landscape architecture classes makes lessons a lot of fun too. Last semester, we had more than 5 field trips to various national parks to enrich our knowledge of plants, climate and nature in general. This also gave us an opportunity to scale steep escarpments, ride a bike through a forest and even enjoy a satisfying barbeque. Furthermore, last semester when working on our final design studio, where we were required to design interventions on Cockatoo Island, a deserted island in Sydney Harbour, a few course mates of mine actually camped on the island over night to learn more about the spatial qualities of this space. It was both an exciting and fulfilling experience.

I have just embarked on a new project this semester. My task is to design a journey for visitors to Georges Heights, a coastal site in north Sydney that was once used as military barracks. This will be the first time (for me) that a conscious and deliberate integration of all that I have been learning in my 4 core modules occurs, be it place making, the way one might approach design in the thinking process, or how to choose suitable plants for one’s design. The project is still in its preliminary stages of rough sketches and general ideas, but I will keep you posted on the progress!

With issues like urban sprawl and industrialisation taking place at an unprecedented pace, I believe the state of the world demands the need for more landscape architects to address the possibilities of achieving harmony between societies and the environment. If you have always been challenged to make a difference in the world but never dared to express that cliché line openly, do consider getting a degree in landscape architecture—trust me, you can be certain that with it, you can proudly and accurately assert about your abilities to truly better the world through your designs!




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