Marissa pursues collaborative architecture in Melbourne

Marissa moved to Australia from Malaysia to experience a different culture and lifestyle. Melbourne’s mix of galleries, museums and arts provided the perfect environment to explore her interest in collaborative architecture.

Marissa Wong
What did you do before deciding to study the Master of Architecture? 
I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts (Hons), Interior Architecture from Taylors University in Malaysia in 2017. Shortly after graduation I joined a budding, award-winning Interior Architecture Firm comprising of a small team of dedicated and innovative architects, designers and project managers with a diversified portfolio.

In my years of practice, I was involved mostly in designing residential and commercial spaces as a project designer. I believe scenography and architecture are symbiotically intertwined which can propel the creation of spaces to captivate audiences with a sense of play, emotive feelings and visuals linked to socio-cultural perspectives.

I wanted to push my career path towards collaborative architecture that includes exhibition, retail, museum and galleries.

Why did you choose to undertake your degree at The University of Melbourne? 
My application to pursue a Master of Architecture at the University of Melbourne was driven by my desire to experience Australia. As Melbourne continues to transform into a global melting pot of diverse cultures, I aim to study the city’s urban evolution, focusing on the psychology of human interactive experiences.

The course structure encourages research and practical participation, and this drew my initial interest to pursue further studies at the Melbourne School of Design. I want my career to focus on explorative, immersive space solutions to create best in class sustainable spaces and to enhance users’ experience of museums, exhibition centres, theatres and commercial spaces.

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the program so far? 
The collaboration between tutors and classmates has been a great learning synergy. Peer learning played a big part in my growth. The alumni program was also a valuable experience where I was able to get advice from student mentors and industry experts.

What is something interesting you have discovered or about yourself through studying at the Melbourne School of Design?
Persistence and active participation in my work and group discussions. During the course there are many learning opportunities that I believe would slip away if no one took the initiative to ask a question or participate. It made me more proactive and comfortable sharing and contributing ideas due to the conducive learning environment. Allocating time for self-learning and actively seeking assistance are also very important.

What is your favourite part about studying at The University of Melbourne? 
Flexible study options and the facilities the school has to offer ranging from course programs, studio variety, events to industry networking opportunities have been a highlight for me.

How did you find the transition into your graduate studies? 
My transition has been rather gradual as I have been given a more flexible timetable, which is very different from my previous professional work schedule. Time management was a struggle at the beginning as I was just settling in however after some time I was back on track. I’m grateful to seniors in my course who assisted me with the university system and gave me an introduction to the course expectations.

What did you expect before you came to Melbourne?I believed culture, arts and lifestyle converged in Melbourne, and I was not disappointed. I spent my free time exploring galleries and strolling along alleyways. I came to Melbourne with the expectation of a tense and competitive environment however to my delight it was a very collaborative learning community.

Do you plan on participating in any extra-curricular activities? 
I plan to take on an internship or work placement as I believe in a holistic learning experience where research and industry practice go hand in hand. Experiencing a different culture and work ethic would broaden my perspective in my own practice.

How do you think your degree will contribute to your career development? 
I want to start my own practice or join a practice, so being able to specialise in certain areas through studio selection and thesis work is valuable. The degree allows me to be in touch with relevant tools and practices which will give me a broader knowledge and awareness of global issues regarding the built environment as well as the development of design thinking and research skills.

What advice would you give students who are thinking about studying at The University of Melbourne? 
I would like to encourage students to know yourself and to be driven in what you are aiming for in your creative endeavour. The university is a place to nurture creative minds, a platform for expression and a gateway to opportunity. At the University of Melbourne, the opportunities and facilities are at your convenience, so be proactive in gaining knowledge, friendship and networking skills.

Last but not least, immerse yourself in the campus’ creative energy, especially in the MSD building and in the vibrant city life and art of the Melbourne community.

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