After five years of architectural study at university, the last thing I envisaged myself doing was going back to study again. So, it took a lot of pondering and active ‘encouragement’ before I was seriously considering doing my Master of Urban Design. I have been involved for many years on various masterplans and large development opportunities, with urban design becoming increasingly significant and integral part of the work I do.
Working alongside Grant, our in-house qualified Urban Designer and Director, enabled me to learn on the job; gaining experience on several concept masterplans ranging in project types and scales. Varying from multi-unit development, social housing, retirement villages, local centres and high-end housing. Over time, I realised I needed to formalise my education in Urban Design, as I do not know what I don’t know.
Undertaking the Masters degree was a big commitment for me to make. The two-years part-time degree seemed like a long time to go when it began last year, but now it feels time had flew coming to the last three months of my degree. When I first went back to university last year, it felt a bit surreal walking around the all-too-familiar campus where I had spent five years studying over a decade ago. The architecture and planning buildings had hardly changed (except for the two beautiful old oak trees in the courtyard that fell during a severe storm and me now being a “mature” student!). It was also lovely to see and bump into lecturers and tutors, who are still teaching there!
Being well into my last semester, reflecting on this journey of learning, I am very glad I challenged myself to studying this degree. Though there were many late nights, as I was only able to study after my boys had gone to bed, I had thoroughly enjoyed gaining greater understanding and researching in depth on topics of interest. The theory papers (sustainable urbanism, urban morphology, urban design theory and urban economics) gave me greater appreciation of what can be designed and achieved at a larger scale. Design studios this year allowed me the freedom to explore and apply this learnt knowledge to real sites (which turned out to be my “hood” - Avondale, and very convenient for immersion of site observation and analysis!).
I was also very privileged to be invited to speak at the upcoming annual School Research Seminar Symposium to present my Urban Morphology research paper alongside professors, lecturers and researchers. My topic is on ‘Communities for All Generations in High-Density Urban Environments: The Case for Mayoral Drive ‘Hobson-Ridgeline’ Precinct, Auckland’, where I identified and examined the Urban design factors in shaping the spatial characteristics to age-friendly communities. The emphasis is on understanding the interrelationships between connectivity, communal space and diversity, and their reciprocal influence with density. Contextualising this into the formation of a lifelong community design proposal on Mayoral Drive. For more info on the symposium, see link below: