UNSW Built Environment Landscape Architecture: Shawna Ng

7 08 2009

This semester promises equally, if not more exciting times ahead for me. Thank God for the winter break—at least I’m all refreshed and ready to take on the coming challenges! In terms of school contact hours, this semester might seem a lot less hectic as compared to the previous ones; while it would be easier on both my mental and physical being to keep status quo, I see this as an opportunity to gain a plethora of other types of experiences while I am still pursuing my studies.

For one, I will be embarking on my industry work experience at “Gardens-R-Us”, one of Sydney’s most established nurseries in Kingsford. It is one of the course requirements to complete two types of work experience, one done in the industry sector of this profession and the other, in a design office. The former, which I am currently undertaking, must be achieved before the commencement of the third year courses. I am looking forward to that—I’d always believed that in order to become a good landscape architect, one has to not only know but also understand the intricacies of nature’s workings (i.e. the way plants grow, name of plants, soil conditions etc) Hopefully getting my hands dirty (literally!) will provide me with the practical know-how that I seldom get to focus on in lectures and tutorials.

In addition to this, I plan to pursue my interest (above and beyond the university courses) with regards to the concept of what space is. As such, a good friend of mine, currently pursuing an architectural degree in UNSW, and I have decided to participate in the JAD International Competition in which this year’s theme is (very aptly!) “Soft space—design saves us”. So far, we have had several thought provoking conversations about this issue and it has been a really eye opening experience working with someone from a highly similar yet essentially different field of study. We have our differences (after all, space is a highly contentious concept on many counts (how it is defined, how to design it, who uses it etc) between landscape architects and architects), but these lively discussions have only serve to enrich our pre-existing knowledge and boost our concepts further. Who says landscape architects and architects need to be at loggerheads all the time? If the opportunity arises for anyone to work with other disciplines on topics that they are passionate about, I strongly encourage them to seize it!

Lastly, the studio this semester is really just as stimulating as the above mentioned events. This time, we will be working on a real brief with real clients (first ever!) The site is Shrimpton’s Creek in North Ryde, where we will explore ways to manipulate landforms in the first 6 weeks and design planting plans in the next 6. After all, being proficient in these two aspects is what makes a landscape architect marketable in the labour force. In light of the focus on studying landforms these six weeks, we’ll be looking at how we can turn this park into a safer area where locals will feel a greater sense of place and belonging, how some water sensitive urban design schemes for the creek might be incorporated, as well as how certain lost spaces might be designed for more purposeful functions, among many other considerations. It is going to be a challenge for me to retain my creative juices in such a practical framework that has more than one layer of factors to deliberate upon. Yet, knowing that I will be equipped to make better informed design decisions in future is a thought that exhilarates me. I will most definitely be keeping all of you in the know with regards to my progress soon!

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