Víctor explores a global perspective on urban design
Víctor Alegría made the move from Chile to Australia to pursue postgraduate study in urban design. We caught up with him to hear about his experiences so far.
What did you do before deciding to undertake graduate studies?
I completed my bachelor and professional architecture studies in 2011, at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Chile.
After graduation, I developed a professional career focused on urban design and landscape architecture projects. I had the chance to work at the University and in Government, besides doing independent architecture projects with a group of colleagues.
Why did you choose to study the Master of Urban Design at The University of Melbourne?
Being involved in a public university with a strong focus on research and a strong international reputation was crucial. Furthermore, being part of a great community, with such different backgrounds and interests in tackling global issues, congregated in one of the most vibrant cities of the Asia Pacific Region, seemed really attractive to me.
I also received a scholarship through MSD to study here, which has been a great incentive for me to make the most of my studies. Thanks to this support, I didn’t have to find a job, which has allowed me to focus on my studies and maintain high marks. I’m also able to spend a lot of time with my wife and my newborn child.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the program so far?
I am really impressed by the fast changes that rural and urban areas of the Asian-Pacific countries are experiencing. Through the lectures and the precedents that my classmates bring to discuss, I have become aware of the massive urbanisation that has been occurring in cities like Hong-Kong, Seoul and Singapore. It’s also interesting to explore how the city of Melbourne will address the densification process given the city will be home to a huge amount of people in the next 50 years.
Definitely the variety of topics and issues that are addressed in the lectures, based on resent research and new approaches to understand the urban context and its complexities, have been a highlight. Along with that, the possibility of sharing discussions with local and international students from different programs.
What has been the most challenging aspect?
I think that learning new digital methodologies of data management and representation has been very challenging for me. The possibility of accessing and processing huge quantities of data about our urban habitat brings up the opportunity to formulate new questions and approaches to understand the urban phenomena and its contradictions. In this light, I have had to critically address my own architectural background in order to further a multi-scale urban design perspective and thinking.
What is your favourite part about studying at Melbourne School of Design?
It is the sense of being part of a community that is really interested in tackling relevant and global challenges. Being surrounded by creativity, research and public debate is something that inspires me every day to come to campus and see what’s going on. I have very much enjoyed the guest lectures and exhibitions that are constantly happening in the Faculty, as well as the activities that the Melbourne Student Union hold on campus. And, of course, I love to have a coffee under the beautiful trees of the campus.
How did you find the transition into your graduate studies?
I have really enjoyed it. I have been working as a professional for seven years so coming back to university is like a breath of fresh air. For me, it’s also been a period to reflect on and rethink what I have been doing, and to be open to expanding my field of action.
What did you expect before you came to Melbourne?
To put it simply, I expected a friendly university within a friendly city. I am so happy to feel that these expectations are not just being met, but also exceeded!
Living far away from your home country is not easy but, for me and my partner, the support of the university to international students, and the amenities that Melbourne offers every day have been really useful and helpful.
How do you think your degree will contribute to your career development?
My time at the MSD will be a critical experience in my career. Every week I am discovering new issues, approaches and methodologies that will inform and define my field of work over the coming years. I am constantly thinking about how I will be able to apply this knowledge in my Latin-American context and how to transmit it. Moreover, the Master of Urban Design will give me the competency and allow the possibility of pursuing Doctoral Studies in the future.
What would you say to students who are thinking about studying at The University of Melbourne?
Studying at the University of Melbourne is a great experience not only because of the quality of the programs, but also because it is a public institution with high values of inclusion, diversity and environmental awareness. This University is formed by a friendly and multicultural community, which is constantly striving in welcoming its new members.
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