As a multidisciplinary design school, the School of Architecture and Urban Design understands design practice as an agent of cultural change within an increasingly complex and cosmopolitan world.
In our School, we offer programs ranging from certificates through to PhDs. We aim to address compelling, contemporary issues, like climate change, globalisation and rapid urbanisation, in ways that help drive cultural change through design. Our students, lecturers and researchers are all encouraged to be risk-takers as they strive towards positive change.
Globally recognised for design excellence, our School rated ‘well above world standard’ in the Australian Research Council 2012 and 2015 Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) audit, achieving the highest possible ranking of 5. We develop our research through the process of designing, and put designs and ideas into practice.
Collaboration in design practice
We encourage staff to be active in designing, as designers themselves or through critical engagement with designing. This approach carries through to our research, in which design activities open up interrogation, and to our courses, in which learning evolves in design studios. These studios are curated according to our tri-polar model. In them staff, students and practitioners explore design research projects, allowing students to operate as empowered studio collaborators in the pursuit of design knowledge and skills.
Tri-polar approach to teaching, learning and research
Our ambition is to sustain three areas, or poles, of scholarship at any one time across the School. The three poles are not exclusive; they interact and overlap and are always in question. We understand them as points of intensity within a dynamic constellation-like structure rather than as fixed points; over time, they are challenged and changed.
Currently the three poles include the Urban Environments, Advanced Architecture and Expanded Field. Urban Environments is concerned with precedent, type, and the practical value and consequences of infrastructure, and the human experience resulting from spatial planning, including civic consciousness and civic narratives. Advanced Architecture deals with the pursuit of rule-based and generative processes in design to facilitate new formal/organisational outcomes and ways of thinking about new speculative design possibilities (this area encompasses new digital technologies and fabrication methods). Expanded Field deals with issues of ethics and sustainability, regimes of care, art and public space, social needs and the temporary or ephemeral.
Staff and students make clear and deliberate choices in selecting studios and positioning their work in relation to these three scholarship poles. These can be positions of alignment, opposition or transformation.
We believe that holding multiple, articulated positions leads to a productive scholarship environment, and we use the three poles to provide focus for curating our design studios, research and the careers of our alumni.