The UTS School of Architecture has undergone a massive change in focus over the last few years. It has changed from a part-time, mostly night time course with a focus on practice where the students worked in offices full time during the day. It was known as the school in which practice took precedence.
The school still positions itself as the school that best prepares its students for practice, however their definition of what constitutes practice has changed from that of churning out the workhorses of the local industry to practice as an amalgam of contemporary industrial practices. As Head of School, Sandra Kaji O’Grady states;
“At the most rudimentary level of preparing graduates for careers, we are confronted with the knowledge that divergent forms of practice require different capacities and approaches. Industry engagement, a core mandate of The University of Technology Sydny, is a challenge for the School of Architecture at a time when the architecture profession is not merely heterogeneous, but internally divided.”
“Our decision has been to prepare students for globalised practice and for the largest urban projects. Only in this realm can architects become more powerful advocates for cities and their citizens.”
While, it has not been received universally as a positive move - some large practices see the move as depleting an essential part of the workforce, long serving staff members with ongoing research projects were forced to move on - it is undeniable that of all the school’s currently operating in NSW, they are the most vocal, the most visible and the most successful in attracting visiting international teaching staff.
The recent publication of selected projects and studios from 2007 gives a good outline of the direction that the school is travelling in. The large format publication presents a very clear agenda of the exploration of manufacturing techniques, formal experimentation and an engagement with the city. The studios are run largely by collaborative networks of academics, practising architects, researchers and students; such as OCEAN, Vector Guerillas, and L.A.V.A. and the publication reflects this with the students themselves in 8 point grey type in the corner of the page and the school’s thesis at the fore. At this point in time where the school is finding its feet and presenting its agenda to the profession this is understandable, but it would be nice to see the students that produce the work on equal standing with the course convenors.
A couple of the projects:
Pixel.Nest - a studio run by Adrian Lahoud - was a second year construction exercise, looking at digital fabrication and parametric design environments.
An installation undertaken by students in a studio run by Chris Bosse.