Creative Learning in a Postgraduate Landscape Architecture Design Program: The Studio–Field Dyad During a Real-World Project in an Indigenous Australian Community

 

The dyadic relationship between studio and field is explored with reference to a postgraduate landscape architecture design studio programme at the University of Canberra. In this programme, students engage in a longitudinal project in which they identify and research targeted landscape themes. Potential themes include design typologies, planning, ecology, and interdisciplinary issues and opportunities. Students select and apply appropriate research methodologies and analytical techniques that enable them to describe, assess, and interpret particular landscapes, forming the basis for design propositions. In the process of the project, bidirectional flows of information in the abstract, conceptual, and content domains inform studio work and landscape interpretation in the field. Conceptual migration between studio and field enhances students’ appreciation of the value of each and of the synergy formed by both.

 

The studio–field dyad is exemplified in a case study of a student project examining a proposed material recycling facility in the community of Cherbourg, Queensland. The facility will be a specialised plant that will receive, separate, and prepare recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers. Students were briefed to prepare a concept design for the site and facility based on background research, studio work, and a week-long field trip. The dynamics of the studio–field dyad are reflected in the students’ understanding of the site and its users, their engagement with the community, and in the theoretical underpinning, creativity, and innovation of their design approaches. On a different but related dimension, the linkages between studio and field reflect the connections established between the students and the involved community, and show congruence with a stated university ethos of providing transformative learning experiences and of contributing to the construction of a just and sustainable society.