Isabel combines technology and artistry in her creative path to architecture

Isabel has embraced digital design technology throughout the Bachelor of Design which has enabled her to produce more complex and interesting designs with greater efficiency.

IsabelWhat are you planning to do after studying the Bachelor of Design?
I am working towards entering the Master of Architecture, with the long-term goal of becoming a registered architect. I ultimately hope to be participating in work that is that it at the forefront of integrating new technologies (eg. virtual and augmented reality, virtually constructed environments, real time rendering) into architectural design and into practice.

Why did you decide to pursue the Bachelor of Design? 
I decided to pursue the Bachelor of Design because I suspected it would bring together my passion for art and design, my interests in how they are seen in our environment, and my desire for a challenging course of study. When I was doing VCE my favourite subject was Visual Communication and Design. My final project for the subject involved a reinterpretation of an existing heritage facade for building in the CBD, which I imagined was converted into an art and design museum - and I wanted to find a pathway at University where I could continue doing more of that kind of design.

I decided my goal was to study Design at the University of Melbourne after visiting the Faculty on Open Day in my last year of school. I liked the idea of being able to study design as a holistic field rather than just focused on Architecture, andexperiencing the campus and MSD building and seeing the facilities and resources available to students (specifically the Fab Lab!) sold me on the Bachelor of Design program.

What is your favourite Bachelor of Design subject so far and why?
My favourite subjects so far have been Digital Design and Design Studio Delta.

In Digital Design we were introduced to a range of new programs and techniques. These included parametric modelling using a visual scripting language called Grasshopper, as well as utilising Unreal Engine to create a 3D model of our pavilion design and then experience it in virtual reality.

The skills I learned in Digital Design have enabled me to produce more complex and interesting designs with greater efficiency. In particular, learning visual scripting through Grasshopper and designing parametrically was the most valuable skill I gained from the subject.

In Design Studio Delta I was able to use these skills to develop speculative architectural proposals with controlled complexity.

My final project titled ‘Library: Voyager’ is a speculative proposal for a library on Little Bourke St that aims to challenge current and historical precedent; from purely transactional, tense and sterile - to dynamic, ever changing and abstract. It argues that a library should be more than a static resource centre and a city should be able to excite, entice and challenge your trajectory.

Library: Voyager is designed to be discovered, to be a spectacle, monumental, celebrate learning, a portal to another dimension, and a catalyst for activity.

Library Voyager
Image, above: Isabel created a speculative proposal for a city library as part of Design Studio Delta. Below, a physical model created for Digital Design.

Borrowing stylistic, aesthetic and metaphoric inspiration from vintage space exploration imagery and events, it pays homage to the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes and their missions.

This project was preceded with a projective mapping exercise that encouraged each student to hone in on their personal opinions and views on ‘the Library’ and ‘the City’ in their current forms. This really helped me to begin my final project with an agenda and a concept that was highly personal and embodied many precedents that I felt passionate about. In this studio I was able to produce work that I was incredibly proud of and feel as though I can enthusiastically stand behind.

The agency we had in this subject to engage with our own choice of precedents, techniques and styles meant I could integrate a lot of Grasshopper scripting in my work. For example – I wrote a script that altered the shape of perforated circles on the fa├žade of my library that could dynamically change in diameter to form images or respond to the location of internal programs highlighting colour and movement.

What excites you about studying the Bachelor of Design?
I've always known that I wanted to pursue a creative career that combines technology and artistry. Once I started the Bachelor of Design, I quickly realized that studying Architecture would be the perfect combination. In one of the first lectures for 'Foundations of Design: Representation', I remember having a moment of realization that I was exactly where I had always wanted to be.

Digital Design ModelIn the lecture, we were introduced to Rhino, the core software that Architecture students use for 3D modelling. I remember stumbling across Rhino as a VCE student in an attempt to create a geometric form for a model. I was frustrated because I knew what I wanted to create, but I didn't know what the steps or tools were to materialise it - and then I turn up to this lecture and I discover that we would be learning exactly that.

It was so exciting to know that this pathway I had chosen was going to take me in the exact direction I had always been interested in, even though I didn't know what it was until I started. As I've continued through the course, I've also been able to put names to the fields of design I wanted to work towards (eg. digital architecture, computational design and fabrication, etc).

As I progress through the Bachelor of Design I continually have these kind of epiphanies. I just participated in an intensive winter subject AA Visiting School ‘New Paper’, where students explored ideas of ‘Extended Realities in Architecture’. In this subject I was exposed to new and radical ideas and approaches to architecture and architectural thinking - and then had the privilege to be taught by academics who are leading the integration of these ideas and technologies into design and architecture. Participating in this subject revealed to me that there are many pathways I can take with a degree in architecture that are non-conventional, untapped, and yet to be fully explored – which is exactly the kind of thing I want to work towards

What advice would you give to students starting in the Bachelor of Design?
Get actively involved with as many aspects of University life as you can (but also be careful you don't put too much on your plate!). Make the effort to get to know other students in your cohort and major. It is invaluable to have a supportive network of friends who are there for you when you need it - whether it's for speculating ideas for an assignment with someone, splitting the costs of model making materials, or just being available to grab a coffee and debrief.

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