UNSW Built Environment Landscape Architecture: Shawna Ng

10 11 2009

It seems almost ironic to say this, but what made this semester truly enriching and fulfilling was the process of trying to understand and appreciate this quote by one of my tutors this semester. “Landscape is essentially space, and space is nothing. So as landscape architects, we design nothing.”

Indeed, in the process of designing nothing, the realisation that nothing is essentially everything started to dawn upon me. Not only did this knowledge empower me to consider the design of my designated site, Shrimptons’ Creek Parklands, in a more holistic manner, it also implied that every single experience of life in and out of the classroom was highly valuable in informing my design. This certainly helped me to appreciate all of life’s joys and drudgeries.

Working at Gardens-R-Us (as part of my work experience) is certainly a case of point.  The first few days of work were so physically demanding that the minute I got home, I crashed into bed. It was, after all, a very labour intensive job, which required the rearranging pots of plants, raking, heavy lifting work when deliveries arrived (which happened too often in my opinion!), weeding, price labeling and so on. In light of this, there were times I dreaded going to work. Just when I thought that I had nothing to gain from this experience but a weekly workout, I started to realise that I had subconsciously become more knowledgeable in plants. I remember that sense of satisfaction that filled my heart when I could identify one of the plants being discussed in studio; a great improvement indeed, considering how the only plants I ever knew were those that were found in my dinners! In hindsight, I do realise the significance of being aware of plants and how to manage and handle them even though having direct contact with them was never really part of the job scope for landscape architects. This knowledge is pivotal in making my designs more workable and successful in reality– A worthwhile experience indeed.

Time does not permit me to dwell too much on the wealth of information I have also gleaned from other lessons in history, computing and life in general but I can assure you that with this new found awareness about the work content of landscape architects, even the mundane act of eating can act as a source of design inspiration. Before I bore any of you further with more words, here are my final presentation boards presenting my proposed solutions for Shrimptons Creek Parklands, a leftover space.

I look forward to another year of challenges, for, despite having a knack of making me exhausted, they certainly spur me on in my pursuit of being a landscape architect who is truly aware and capable of designing something as abstract as nothing-ness.

Master Plan for a Leftover Space

Site Analysis and Design Concepts


Vegetation and Topography



Oxbow Lake

Oxbow Lake Details

Rocky Outcrops






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