Masters of their own domain
By all accounts, landscape architecture is a far cry from publishing, but Wendy Del Nardi is one who is glad she made the change when she did.
“I had been working (in publishing) in Sydney and really not enjoying it and I was looking around for other options when I came across the University’s Masters of Landscape Architecture course.
“I’ve always had an interest in public space, particularly urban public space, given that more than half the world lives in cities. With landscape architecture, most people take it for granted when they’re walking through the city or the local park, but I was keen to know more about how these places are constructed.
“When landscape architecture is done well, it can really influence and even improve people’s day-to-day life without being a heavy-handed function of the city. And that’s exciting for me as it’s a job you can really make a difference with.”
Ms Del Nardi enrolled in the 300 point Masters of Landscape Architecture, launched in 2008 as part of the Melbourne Model’s new generation degree structure. The 300-point course is unique to the University of Melbourne, allowing students with no undergraduate background in landscape architecture to enrol directly in the masters program. This non-cognate degree structure was this year also adopted by the new 300 point stream of the Master of Architecture. The Master of Architecture was recently granted accreditation by the Architects Registration Board of Victoria and recognition by the Australian Institute of Architects.
The new landscape architecture course certainly appeals to Ms Del Nardi, and she says she has no regrets making the switch from publishing.
“It’s really unique, there’s nothing else like it in the country, and I think it’s due to the level of education on offer. It’s definitely a step up and a finer quality of education.
“The fact that public space isn’t always clearly defined is a good thing, because you can have a particular interest that ties in with landscape architecture like I do and also still collaborate with people who identify as planners or architects. The whole cross-disciplinary element is very important, and I’ll get a chance to put it into practice first hand as part of a traveling studio to Papua New Guinea later this year. Working with such a mixed group is an amazing opportunity.
“The industry is really supportive, particularly at Melbourne University, they make a real effort to get industry professionals in to teach and run tutorials, and that’s an invaluable opportunity. It really helps to bridge the gap between study and the ‘real world’.”
Jillian Walliss, Program Co-ordinator of the Master of Landscape Architecture, says the accreditation validates the extensive work the Melbourne School of Design (MSD) has done over the past few years to update its course structure and programs. “We think that the new courses offer many new opportunities for the landscape architecture program.
“These developments combined with Federal government changes – such as the introduction of CSP places and the availability of Austudy to postgraduates – means that Melbourne University now offers a more equitable and quality graduate education in landscape architecture.”
Samuel McCubbin is another who is relishing the course offerings of the MSD. The 200-point Masters of Architecture student is in his final year, having completed his undergraduate studies in architecture during the redesign period. He’s been in a perfect position to observe the changes, and says the customisation options of the new course are a real benefit. “I think students now have more of an opportunity to select the way they want to go and what they want to focus their architecture studies on. There’s a really broad range of different specialisations available to you while you study architecture, and its good students can get the chance to experience those, that’s a key difference and benefit.
“I’d absolutely recommend it.”
Another positive he has found is being able to work with students from all these different specialities and backgrounds, gaining new perspectives along the way. “While I’m specialising in digital architecture, I still get to work with students in other areas; you’re still not limited to students who have that same interest.
“In my ‘Architectural Practice’ and ‘Cities & Culture’ subjects, I’ve got design students, planning students and landscape architecture students.”
“The course gives you the basic knowledge but the thing that has helped me most has been the experience in creating your own projects in design studios, developing skills alongside all these people from different specialisations and different backgrounds.”
Professor Philip Goad, Director of the Melbourne School of Design, says testimonials from forthcoming graduates are welcome and show that the new courses are hitting the mark. “I think comments like these, and those we received from the Australian Institute of Architects and the Architects Registration Board of Victoria, are a fitting endorsement of a new approach to architectural education in Australia, and an approach we are happy to lead.
“We’re thrilled that these national agencies, who are responsible for monitoring standards, have recognised the University of Melbourne’s ongoing commitment to ensuring the highest standards of architectural education and to the production of excellent graduates prepared to face the challenges of contemporary architectural practice anywhere in the world.”
Find out more about the Masters of Landscape Architecture & the Masters of Architecture