Digital technology has been slowly revolutionising landscape architecture for years. RMIT graduate Niki Schwabe is unlocking new areas of his practice with software.
After graduating from RMIT, Schwabe took the skills and expertise he developed in his Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) and began exploring how software could enable new ways of working. Thanks to the industry connections he made at RMIT, his career has been taking off – and taking him from Perth to Indonesia.
What is your area of interest in landscape architecture?
I have a keen interest in the potential applications for digital technologies in landscape architecture and developing the use of specialised tools that embrace the complexities of landscape without compromising creativity or efficiency. This is a really interesting area that is only going to grow in the future.
Aside from that, I also have a strong interest in art and have recently worked with Jon Tarry on a major public art water feature project in Yagan Square in Perth, which is currently under construction. I have worked with a number of artists over the past few years and I enjoy using landscape architecture techniques to translate artistic concepts into formal expressions.
Why did you decide to study a Master of Landscape Architecture at RMIT?
The MLA structure at RMIT is flexible, which allowed me to develop my interests and expertise in a creative but rigorous way. I could engage with fundamental issues both theoretically and practically without being reductive. Other universities don’t afford students the same degree of flexibility while maintaining an edgy attitude to design.
Obtaining an MLA qualification also opened up employment opportunities and developed my industry connections.
How is the MLA preparing you for your career?
The connections I made during my studies have enabled me to gain a foothold in the industry, and a number of projects I undertook while studying have continued to influence my practice. I am currently employed at ASPECT Studios, and this is a direct consequence of the work I produced while studying my masters. I also recently began working with a fellow graduate on a development project in Indonesia that builds on concepts I first explored in my masters.
I would not have the same confidence in my ability to participate as a member of a professional design team without this solid background.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue landscape architecture?
Prepare for a significant challenge, because landscape architecture requires resilience and openness. Also, be true to your interests – it is a diverse field that can open you up to many opportunities and experiences.
Schwabe is also a contributor to the industry renowned publication Landscape Architecture Australia Magazine.
Story: Brad Dixon