Indonesia to Australia: Studying the Bachelor of Design

By Aengus Cassidy

We spoke with current Bachelor of Design student Tasha about her move from Indonesia to Melbourne, her experience studying at the Melbourne School of Design and how COVID-19 might change built environment professions.

Aurelia Tasha Handoko
Aurelia Tasha Handoko

What’s your name?

Aurelia Tasha Handoko. You can call me Tasha!

What are you studying?

I’m studying a Bachelor of Design, double majoring in Architecture and Construction

When did you start your study in Australia and why did you choose to study at the Melbourne School of Design?

I started in February 2018 and I chose the Melbourne School of Design because it not only offers one of the best architecture courses in the country, but it also offers a 5-year Bachelor and Masters course for Architecture as opposed to other institutions. This means I complete my studies quicker but still receive a good quality education.

I was also coming from a science background and didn’t have much design skill or knowledge, but the MSD accepts students from any discipline to study design. There was no portfolio requirement for the Bachelor admission as they teach all the basic knowledge and skills needed in the first year.

How have you found your experience studying in Melbourne?

Studying in Melbourne is a pleasure! Firstly, Melbourne is one of the most liveable cities in the world. Food and transportation are very accessible. The food is very diverse which has helped with any homesickness. The streets are walkable, trains and trams are readily available almost everywhere. There are also many free public amenities to use such as parks, libraries, museums, beaches and the Shrine. There’s also close-by road-trip venues around Melbourne for a short weekend getaway.

Melbourne is rich in its architectural history as well as modernization. There’s a lot of construction in the CBD. Everything I learn in school about architecture and construction can be observed in my surroundings.

We’ve used some of Melbourne’s historical buildings for case studies and visited construction sites to better understand construction work in real life.

Studying in Melbourne also allowed me to meet a lot of other Indonesians from all regions of home including Surabaya and Jakarta. As many Indonesians have come to Melbourne, there are many Indonesian communities that helped me to feel less homesick and lonely, such as Mudika Melbourne, PDKKI Melbourne, PPIA and IFF. They are like my family away from home.

Lastly, here in Australia it’s easier to simultaneously study and have a part-time job. Working alongside my studies has sharpened my soft skills such as time management and people skills.

Why did you choose to study the Bachelor of Design with a major in Architecture and Construction?

I have always gravitated towards things involving art and design, but I also have a strong suite in the sciences that I wanted to utilise. I guess I wanted to pursue a career that is well-balanced in creativity and reasoning and that appeared to be Architecture and Construction.

What has been your favourite aspect or experience of the Bachelor of Design?

My favourite aspect of the Bachelor of Design is MSDx, the exhibition of student work that happens at the end of every semester showcasing works from multiple subject courses. I love it because it reflects our endeavour throughout the semester. Doing an architectural degree is really difficult so being able to see the result of our hard work is greatly rewarding.

It’s inspiring seeing projects from other studios and it initiates creative juices for my ventures. Every time I attend MSDx I’m reminded of how blessed I am to be surrounded by such talented people pursuing a shared passion.

Every time I attend MSDx I’m reminded of how blessed I am to be surrounded by such talented people pursuing a shared passion.

In consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you think Architecture might change and embrace new and digital technology in the future?

Adaptability has been implemented in many of our developments all around the world. However, with this pandemic, I believe adaptability will be even more celebrated in apartments and other small unit housings. I know in Melbourne, many of my student colleagues live in apartments. With the workplace extended into our homes, the boundary between work and life has been blurred. Designing adaptable space can separate the boundary back and relieve one’s quality of life.

In terms of architectural practice, virtual studio platforms can be further developed to improve communication between designers to pitch their designs. Communicating through a single lens in Zoom poses limitations in human interactions as well as delivering design proposals. Without a physical human interaction, it is rather difficult to be ‘hands-on’ on the drawings/ models. Although some digital platforms have been developed such as at.studio (a Rhino plugin to share digital 3D models in their online platform), I believe there is still room for more innovations to enhance virtual studio experience.

What are you most looking forward to with COVID-19 restrictions easing in Victoria?

I am most looking forward to the opening of Australia’s international border and my graduation ceremony. I can’t wait!

Images: Supplied by Aurelia Tasha Handoko