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RMIT University and Shanghai Jiaotong University join forces for research design studio

Date: Nov 02, 2023
Category: Studio news

Over four days in October, the next generation of landscape architecture talent tried its hand at designing one of the most significant landscape projects ever undertaken in Australia: the City of Melbourne’s Greenline Project.

The research design studio was undertaken with the goal of facilitating international collaboration – both within the practice of landscape architecture, and between two important academic institutions.

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Students from RMIT University were joined by their counterparts from Shanghai Jiaotong University, who made a more than 10,000-kilometre journey from Shanghai to Melbourne to participate. The workshop itself was organised, facilitated and led by Ethan Zhang, Senior Landscape Architect at ASPECT Studios in Melbourne, with support from T.C.L and AECOM’s Shanghai office.

Ethan Zhang said the studio represented a unique collaboration between the universities and leading design firms, marking “a wonderful moment in the field of landscape architecture.”

The Greenline Project represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Melbourne, and it is inspiring to see the next generation of talent come together to envision its future.
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Opening with a welcome at Melbourne’s Town Hall, the students were warmly received by Lord Mayor Sally Capp, which preceded a scene-setting presentation on the Greenline Project by Skye Haldane, Principal Strategic Design at the City of Melbourne. Then followed a walking tour of the sites involved in the Greenline Project, beginning in Birrarung Marr and ending in Batman Park.

Competing in mixed teams of students from Melbourne and Shanghai, the students then got to work on designing their own proposals for the north bank. While ASPECT x TCL are helming the real design for the four-kilometre Greenline Project, the students worked closely with each other to produce alternative visions for Melbourne and the Yarra River - Birrarung.

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The students were supported by a raft of leading landscape designers, including Kirsten Bauer, Matthew Mackay and Ethan Zhang from ASPECT Studios, Perry Lethlean and Sean Song from TCL, Associate Prof. Katrina Simon and Dr Maud Cassaignau from RMIT Landscape Architecture and Lee Parks from AECOM and SJTU.

On the last day, these competing visions were presented to a jury of landscape and planning professionals. RMIT University student Danny Rathjen said the experience provided him with a “brilliant insight into cooperation and ideation.”

“The process was creative and fun, and full of learning from students and teachers from RMIT and Shanghai Jiaotong University. It was an eventful few days that I would repeat at a moment’s notice.”

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Fellow RMIT University student Izzy David said, “It was a lot of fun to collaborate with students from Shanghai Jiaotong University and learn from each other’s approaches.

“Having a panel of experts from Melbourne's top landscape architecture studios review our work at the end of the week was a highlight for me!”

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Ethan Zhang said, “Working with these talented students from both Universities was an incredible enriching experience. The diverse perspective and energy they brought to the table were truly fascinating.”

Four months of course preparation, four days of intense collaboration, four groups of talented people, and four big visions for future Melbourne – this was a celebration of the power of landscape architecture through international collaboration.
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