New double degree attracts future leaders in architecture

14 March 2017
New five-year architecture degree to drive innovation in industry

Angus Gregg from Perth and Clare Chuang from Brisbane have moved to Sydney to be among the first group of students to embark on Australia's new and only double degree in architecture at the University of Sydney.

Clare Chuang and Angus Gregg are among the first cohort undertaking the new architecture double degree at the University of Sydney this year.

Clare Chuang and Angus Gregg are among the first cohort undertaking the new architecture double degree at the University of Sydney this year. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim.

Demand for the five-year degree, with a limited intake, has exceeded expectations. The inaugural Program Director Dr Ross Anderson, from the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning, says the degree that combines the three-year Bachelor of Design in Architecture and the two-year Master of Architecture with honours embedded “has clearly appealed to the talented students for who it was conceived”.

A tailored suite of research-based subjects are offered, in addition to core subjects from the individual undergraduate and postgraduate architecture degrees. Students will also work closely with prominent visiting architects in intensive workshops. In July this year, Professor Tom Heneghan from the Tokyo University of the Arts will visit Sydney to lead a week-long design studio exclusively for the double-degree students.

The degree that encourages innovation and critical inquiry, responds to demands from industry for new skills. Award-winning Sydney architect and alumnus of the University of Sydney Andrew Burns said: “Architectural practice is changing. Escalating labour and material costs, environmental challenges and the increasing role of image production all press upon architecture, necessitating changes in the skill set required in the profession to undertake effective practice.”

He added that “the five-year double degree in architecture will enable students to not only recognise these patterns, but to construct their own new and diverse skill sets tailored to effective action and capable of ongoing evolution. The program is anchored in research, building a capacity to shift from speculation to informed, compelling propositions and building critical capacities that will be invaluable in industry and research.”

Clare Chuang was drawn to the University of Sydney from Brisbane by the prospect of being part of a smaller, double-degree cohort that will allow more 'one-on-one' learning, and cultivates the skills necessary to drive the architectural profession forward.

“I looked at tonnes of other architecture degrees back home in Queensland and in other states. However, this particular degree has so many benefits that separated it from any of the other courses I was looking at, particularly in terms of graduate employability,” said Clare.

The logical and straightforward progression that the double degree provides attracted Angus Gregg from Perth. “It stood out as a degree with a far more direct pathway, and one that will hopefully give me the opportunity to stand out in the future. Given the ATAR required, which was much higher than at other universities, it also means that I would be surrounded by similar students,” he said.

Offers for admission into new University of Sydney architecture double degree this year recorded the highest median ATAR of any architecture, design or urban planning tertiary course in New South Wales.

Clare, Angus and 42 of their peers who are getting underway with the new double degree this year, show great promise in setting a high standard for those students to become leaders in the architectural profession.

The new architecture double degree fulfils a vision of the University of Sydney’s wider curriculum changes that saw the launch last month of a new four-year undergraduate combined degree option, and the creation of research pathways with vertically-integrated undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

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