Student work brings real change

29 March 2011

As a result of their class work, Architecture students are positively engaging with the complex overlapping urban problems and opportunities facing Sydney.

Students in the Masters of Architecture - Urban stream - last semester took part in a Design Studio which aimed to do just that, tackling such critical issues as housing affordability, urban sprawl, sub-urban sub-sustainability, food security, cultural diversity, and an aging population. In doing so they had the chance to contribute their talent and ideas to a real-life, high-density, affordable housing development in the dynamic Western Sydney suburb of Fairfield.

Fairfield Studio brought students together with Hume Community Housing Association (a community housing provider based in Fairfield with a site ready for development), Fairfield City Council (keen to discuss how such a landmark development could contribute to the urban fabric of Fairfield), and a range of other local people and organisations with real experience of the housing needs of the Fairfield community including tenants and staff from Non-English Speaking Housing (NESH), Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre, Cabramatta Community Centre and Housing NSW

Students combined the input from these local experts and used it to generate a wide range of design proposals for Hume, all rigorously grounded in real-world planning controls such as AHSepp, Sepp65, the BCA, fire accessibility and parking standards. The best work was able to deftly combine quality and affordability, specificity and flexibility, an ambitious design solution to the local situation with full compliance with the real world controls.

The students' work was exhibited at the end of semester at the Fairfield School of Arts to great acclaim from Hume, NESH, Senior staff from Fairfield City Council, Housing NSW and NSW Federation of Housing Associations.

The University continues to be involved in the development of the project. Master of Architecture students Danny Spence, Melissa Pearson, and Michael Jones have been invited to present their work at two meetings of Hume's Staff and Board members. On both occasions the attendees commented on the high quality of the work and the enormous benefit it had on their understanding of the possibilities of the project.

Coordinated by Dr Perter Armstrong, Fairfield Studio provides a model for how university design studios can engage with the city at large, bringing benefits for both their students and the broader community. For Hume the studio provided a wealth of new ideas and prototypes far beyond what not-for-profit Housing provider could normally afford. With supervision from tutors Michael Zanardo and Hugo Moline, the studio gave students the chance to work with real people on a real project to which they have made a significant contribution.

Contact: Jonathan Hulme

Phone: 02 9351 2686

Email: 5107000559102c3b23302b310c370111590b4a49090a3c5a0c40