How Adrian's MAD internship led him to Beijing

Beijing is a modern city steeped in tradition that is now leaping into the cutting-edge of architecture. MSD Master of Architecture student Adrian Dong recently completed a four month internship with MAD Architects in their headquarters in China’s capital. He shared his experience with us there.

What project were you doing there during your time there?

I worked on small scale installations to large scale cultural precincts to mixed-use high rises. MAD’s broad spectrum of projects allowed me to gain exposure in various building typologies at different stages of design. My work consisted of a range of things, such as 3D modelling, CAD drafting, research, model making and visualisation.

How did you find out about the opportunity at MAD?

I found out through a friend who was already interning there and saw the opportunity pop up on Dezeen’s job list.

What was working in China like?

An eye-opening and refreshing experience. It’s amazing to live in a city so rich in history yet see how advanced it has become in its infrastructure and technology. This duality of the old and new can see be seen everywhere on the streets.

What cultural differences did you face and how did you overcome them?

Being raised in a Chinese household meant that there were less cultural differences to adjust to. However, the main difference would be the fast paced lifestyle and working culture. These were both things that I wanted to experience, so I already had the mental preparation for it and hence they weren’t difficult to adjust to.

What advice would you give to other students who are thinking about undertaking an internship?

In order to make the most of an internship, be extremely open minded, be hungry to learn and be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Establish strong relationships with colleagues to maximise the potential to learn and help expand your professional networks as soon as possible. Internships are a great way to grow in your career and as a person.

How did your studies at Melbourne assist during your internship? Were you able to translate knowledge into a practical industry context?

It helped provide me with the skills involved in the design process and to manage expectations of the role of an architect. I found it was easy to transfer my software skills across to a professional setting. That being said, there is a lot to learn and understand about work culture and expectations which can be specific to a firm.

What would be a dream project in your future career?

I would love to curate and be a participant in an architecture exhibition that showcases the potential for living in the future, while also promoting innovations in technology and sustainability. Ultimately, the aim would be to extend the appreciation people have for architecture, future-proof buildings, and encourage new advancements in architectural discourse.

Otherwise, my cliché answer would be to design a house of my own. Having myself as the client rules out any chance of dissatisfaction and critique in design.

What was the most valuable skill you have learnt so far in your program and in your internship at MAD?

The Master of Architecture has deepened my understanding of architectural theory, technology and practice. It has significantly refined my architectural knowledge from my undergraduate course for more appropriate application when entering the workforce.

For MAD, it would be learning to adjust to a completely new environment from what I’m used to and working to excel on those differences that I’m not familiar with. This extends to the MAD’s work ethic, work culture, projects, and design philosophy.

What attracted you to architecture?

I think architecture has the potential to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives, sometimes without them even knowing.

With life being constantly immersed in some form of architecture, architects have the power to significantly improve a person’s quality of life. My passion for architecture is rooted in my urge to appeal to both the hearts and minds of people.

Through aesthetics, atmosphere, and tectonics, architecture and design allow for the elevation of human emotion and spirit in ways other disciplines cannot. By provoking thought and emotions through architectural design, I believe I can add meaningful value to people’s lives.

What motivates you as a person?

I strive to inspire individuals to change the way they think, act and perceive the world to broaden their experience in life. In order to achieve that, I have to be passionate and excel in a profession that has a meaningful cause. This is what motivates my drive for architecture and my desire to add value to people’s lives.


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