Building the right foundation at Monash

Overseas-education | Crystal Wu 23 Nov 2021

Living in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong, buildings and high-rises are common but each building has its own story and someone behind it: an architect.

Architect-in-training Ava Ng is on the student globetrotters series today to share her experience studying architecture at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

"From the first to the third year, you have to study three units every year," she said. "And also from the third to second year, the timetables are fixed and you have to study the compulsory units, and you would not be able to choose your favorite or elective unit."

First-year architecture students at Monash have to take a compulsory foundation studio class.

Sophomores can decide their own studio classes among nine, including digital prefabrication and regenerative design.

For Ng's second year, she built a structure through algorithmic design, "which means you have to do some complex calculations in the computer software and, based on them, you build some components and use a single component to build architecture, which is quite futuristic and fun."

She also had a focus on regenerative design, which relates to landscapes and biological infrastructure.

"I believe, as an architect, the landscape is one of the inevitable subjects. Every single building is related to landscape and it is about how you actually merge the site context with your own architecture," said Ng, who found the studio class and her tutor inspiring.

"Moving on to the third year, you would be able to choose your own elective, which means you are able to choose any subject in Monash, not just about architecture."

So what are the differences among architecture programs in Melbourne?

In the University of Melbourne, you would not be able to choose your favorite studio. They all have fixed content. "You cannot choose a studio on a different subject, they have organized it for you. Everyone has to study the same content," Ng said.

"If you are a more artistic person, I would definitely suggest you go for Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which is a fantastic school in Australia.

" It focuses on visualization, graphic presentation - which is quite important for an architecture student. Also, its designs are quite imaginative. I believe RMIT can help you to think."

Ng also believes that during an architect's career, there are few opportunities to build according to one's wildest imagination,so student life is a great time to "build your crazy architecture."

This is why she stresses the importance of knowing one's style and preference. "I know I am a more practical person. I would like to choose something which is directly related to my future. So I have chosen Monash University because the courses are practical and would be helpful for my future."

Architecture programs are notorious for their heavy workload worldwide, "so having good time management is extremely important."

Another piece of advice Ng has for prospective architecture students is to understand the task well and to note down what to finish at that time.

"No matter what bachelor you do, it is all about self-discipline and also what your own vision is and how far you want to go."

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