Brisbane’s New Office & an Interview with Deb Robbins

ASPECT insights
Brisbane’s New Office & an Interview with Deb Robbins
Our Brisbane studio moved into their new office in Woolloongabba at the start of the year. The space is bright, warm, inviting and loaded with plants – making it the ideal space for our growing Brisbane studio to design future landscapes in Australia’s largest subtropical City. With its high ceilings and wonderful access to natural light, the studio Incorporates standup workstations and several breakout workshop spaces including the central ‘greenhouse’ – an internal arbor immersed in plants. In between the move and the subsequent “office warming” party, we sat down with our Brisbane director, Deb Robbins, who’s recently been appointed as the panel chair for the QUT Karl Langer Awards to talk about judging the award and what she looks for in a landscape architecture student. Can you start by telling us about your involvement with the Karl Langer Awards and QUT?
"I’ve been judging the awards on and off for about 12 years now, it’s always been a pleasure to set a aside a day to engage with the final year students nominated for the award. The Karl Langer award is given to the student completing the Landscape Architecture degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) who shows “marked potential for the profession of Landscape Architecture”. My involvement with QUT goes back to my time as a student, tutor and then lecturer, and it has always been a place where you can explore the potential of Landscape Architecture unfettered by the pragmatics of real project requirements."
  Now as the panel chair, how do you approach judging a diverse selection of portfolios / presentations?
"As panel chair I will carry on the tradition of ensuring the panel looks out for the most crafted presentation on the day. The Karl Langer Awards are always a special event in the academic calendar and for the students it’s about bringing it all together. Communication is key and it’s a joy to listen to the students taking us on the journey through their most successful university projects. It’s a tough but enjoyable gig for the judges, the standard and variety of projects is always very high."
As a studio director of ASPECT Studios, what potential do you look for in landscape architecture students?
"At ASPECT, we are designers and agents of positive change. We craft moments of meaning and delight. So I’m always on the lookout for students who show the greatest potential of aligning with our purpose. I value those who combine great communication skills with design thinking and ideas that are at the forefront of our profession. And as we are a very broad church I could be listening to an idea about the possibilities of reconstructing the Great Barrier Reef and for another presentation I would be walked through a sacred site that offers opportunities for indigenous youth empowerment. These are some of the most burning issues of our time and that’s what we like to tackle."
What kind of folios are you drawn to?
"I enjoy graphically strong and well-designed portfolios with personality – work that tells me a bit about the person, their interests and what they enjoy about landscape architecture. The most engaging portfolios convey clear design logic, follow a natural sequence and identify the project, issues, approach and design resolution – I also look for new ways of thinking and representation.  The stand outs also include projects of various scales to demonstrate an ability to think differently and to apply design thinking to projects both big and small."
 Is there such a thing as the ideal landscape architecture student?
"Good question! The ideal student would be one that is true to themselves, you can only be ideal for yourself, not for anyone else. However, there are qualities that a good Landscape Architectural student possesses and they are being a creative thinker and interested in everything, having a sense of personality about their work, and just being nice to people."