Some of the best creative ideas are forged when we are asked to step outside of our comfort zone. For a group of Master of Architecture students, a semester designing from a new perspective provided exactly that opportunity. The Advanced Technologies 1 unit of study asked students to assume the role of structural engineers, dealing with compression and tension forces, bending moments, pin joints, trusses, cranes and formworks. As British engineer and Arup Group Founder, Ove Arup, famously said:
When engineers and quantity surveyors discuss aesthetics and architects study what cranes do we are on the right road.
After learning structural engineering and construction techniques to envision and design a structural prototype for a long-span building, students were tasked with designing either a swimming pool, market hall or agriculture facility, for example, a winery. The task contained various design challenges, including a stipulation that no internal columns or supports were permitted within the building. The resulting structures were highly imaginative, and at the end of the semester, students were given the opportunity to present their structural prototypes to staff at engineering firm Arup Sydney. Paolo Stracchi, Coordinator of Advanced Technologies 1, said:
“When you think of structural engineering you immediately think of Arup. Arup hosting our final presentations was for the students a unique opportunity to share their ‘structural and construction’ ideas beyond the school’s walls.”
On 6 June 2018, students flooded through the doors of Arup’s Sydney office, carrying with them close to 100 models. Welcommed with warm hospitality, 33 groups of students presented their projects to a group of encouraging engineers. The day was full insightful comments, useful feedback, robust discussion, and engineers interrogating models.
This was a day the students had anticipated throughout the semester. MArch student Akshay Salunkhe said:
“As an architecture student I have always drawn inspiration from Ove Arup’s work as well the fantastic projects by the company. Never did I imagine I would have the chance to walk into one of the finest engineering and design offices in the world, and talk about our modest projects.”
Being in a professional workspace was inspiring for many students who have not yet had a taste of real-world industry experience. This opportunity to present work to industry professionals was invaluable for these future architects.
“From the moment we stepped out of the elevator, the atmosphere at the office made it even more memorable. I feel fortunate for the time we got to spend there and to receive feedback regarding our works with such patience. I will definitely cherish this experience,” Akshay said.