Faculty welcomes Francois Blanciak to the discipline of Architecture

20 September 2012

"I set it as a goal: 10 years, 10 cities. But now I'd like to settle, I've been locked into this game."

François Blanciak joins the Faculty this year as a tutor in the Master of Architecture. The French national has a hopscotch history of crossing continents. Completing his undergraduate degree in France, Ireland and Canada was only the beginning. He's since worked in New York and Los Angeles, in Hong Kong and Seoul. In 2010 he graduated with a PhD in architectural theory from the University of Tokyo, where he also published his first book, SITELESS: 1001 Building Forms.

"I'm not too happy about the idea of being a vagabond," François said. "You cannot always stay where you want, and it's ended up being something I've had to do: to leave, from one country to another. But Australia is booming and it's one of the few places that values a PhD as a qualification for teaching architecture. That's what's brought me here."

Since coming to the University of Sydney, François has been involved in two masters level units of study. He is a tutor in Chris Smith's Modern Architectural Theory and also a tutor in Michael Tawa's graduation studio. For the graduation studio, François has given his students a unique task.

"The studio is based on pure forms - cubes, cylinders, spheres - and I've fixed a particular shape and its dimensions at the start of the studio," François said. "I chose a 100 metre high pyramid and selected a site in Barangaroo. The studio intends to invert the usual architectural formula of Program + Site = Form. Instead, the form and site are fixed and the students have to discover the program. They have to start with a solution and go towards the problem."

"It's meant to be a mutual learning process, I know little of Sydney. I'm hoping to learn something about the city through my students' work in this project."

François is interested in linking architectural theory to practice. He says it's important that students understand the proper means of representation for architectural work, something that is all too quickly forgotten in an era of digital design work.

"Undergraduates need to spend a lot of time on technical aspects such as drawing. Architectural drawing is very specific and needs to convey the idea in an efficient way. Professors need to rectify a lot of student's drawings to fit with the conventions, to produce something that is understandable.

"Master level students have this rigorous approach and these skills. Because of this, we can focus on the idea. There is also more interaction at the postgraduate level and this extends the work students do."

François also feels that recognition of achievement is important to the work architects and students of architecture do. He feels that this can be an important part of whether students go on to complete further studies.

"What made me stay in the field of architecture is that people were interested in my work. If it wasn't the case, I don't think I would have kept going in that field. There is room for personality within architecture."

The Faculty warmly welcomes François to our academic community and is excited to benefit from his wealth of international experience and personal approach to architecture.