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Unveiling the new Bachelor of Design in Architecture

The Abedian School of Architecture has emerged as one of the first universities in Australia to fully embrace the new reality of architectural design in the 21st century by refocussing its undergraduate architecture degree around this confluence of emerging technologies and their ability to help us address global challenges.

The Bachelor of Architectural Studies has been re-formulated as the Bachelor of Design in Architecture, reflecting the School’s focus on creative design and ‘learning by making’ and the project-based curriculum has been centred around issues of pressing international and national concern, including rapid urbanisation, environmental change, technological emergence and increasing socio-economic inequity.

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The B Des Arch is unique in that the majority of coursework is based on practical projects and carried out in a state-of-the-art design studio.  The associated Workshop and Digital Fabrication Lab is equipped with a full suite of advanced digital tools including a 2.8m robotic arm, CNC router, 3D printer, advanced modelling software and a Trotec laser cutter, as well as a traditional tool workshop.

This practical aspect of the program allows students to see how their designs progress from the screen or page to the built environment – how the materials look, feel and react in situ; what works and what doesn’t work.

“We’re not just designing buildings,” said Professor Chris Knapp who heads the Abedian School of Architecture. “We’re developing the processes to build those buildings and developing the special skills used in those processes.

“In some instances, we’re taking technology and skillsets used in other industries and bringing it into the architecture setting - for example, construction and urban planning skills, as well as digital media, communication and even film.

“Our students are gaining experience with elements of the design and fabrication process that they simply wouldn’t get anywhere else.

“So our graduates are not just prepared for what’s happening in the industry right now; they’re actually ahead of the game.”

One of the highlights for students starting Bond’s new Bachelor of Design in Architecture is the annual Design Charette which puts first year students in a team with second year and Master’s students to work on a design-oriented task under the guidance of a guest architect.

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In 2019, the founding director of Troppo Architects, Phil Harris, mentored the teams through the design of new sheltered areas at a nearby beachside park.

The curriculum also includes international study tours, work integrated learning, student exhibitions and publications, and an international guest lecture series.

“The whole dynamic of the program is built around creativity, teamwork and pushing the boundaries of what is possible,” said Professor Knapp.

“Where most of the traditional university-based architectural schools might have 300 undergraduate students in lecture-based classes, we have small groups working on design-and-build projects in our studio and workshop, where the studio is available to students 24/7.

“It’s the ideal learning pathway to our Master of Architecture, but it also develops a wide range of skills that can be applied to industrial design, interior design, real estate development planning, interior rebuilds and refurbishments and even designing sets for stage, film and computer games.”

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