UNSW Architecture empowers you to create architecture of substance in both form and content, shaping a better world. The Master of Architecture is regarded as one of the most prestigious architecture programs in Australia, taught by internationally recognised academics, renowned professors of practice and award–winning visiting architects. The program fosters a broad vision and a considered understanding of the socio–cultural and economic contexts which influence the making of architecture. To design and build sustainable, liveable cities is a grand challenge of humanity. Graduates of UNSW Architecture have the knowledge and skills to contribute to this mission.
Why study a Master of Architecture at UNSW?
We offer Architecture PLUS. UNSW Architecture is distinctive. We offer well-rounded architectural education PLUS the choices of four distinctive streams of specialisation, each with a specific focus on how architecture responds to social and environmental challenges.
High Performance Technology
The Architecture and High Performance Technology stream in the Masters of Architecture programme addresses two of the greatest challenges facing the built environment in the twenty first century – namely urbanisation and climate change.
It is well known that our cities are expanding rapidly, with global urban populations set to almost double by 2050, to around 6.5 billion people. Sydney is not immune from such growth, with its own population set to grow to 8 million by 2050. Where, and how, will these future urban dwellers live, work and play? To accommodate this growth, it’s clear we will need to design and build in a more compact manner, including creating tall buildings and other large and complex architectural interventions. However, at the same time, we need to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of our built environment, in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. In sum, we need to build much more, while using much less energy.
The Architecture and High Performance Technology Stream provides students with the skills, understanding, tools and experiences needed to tackle these two grand challenges. The stream aims to create a unique type of architectural graduate who are concerned with designing beautiful and effective architecture, but are also experts in achieving high levels of performance in terms of energy demand, technological innovations, density, lifestyle and comfort.
The Architecture and High-Performance Technology curriculum provides a balanced and well-rounded architectural education, with a specific emphasis on high-rise and high-density buildings, environmental design, climate-change mitigation and the technical integration of structure, systems and technology in architecture.
In conjunction with courses covering the broad spectrum of architectural understanding, including history and theory and professional practice, specialist modules in this stream introduce students to integrated design approaches and performance evaluation tools for both buildings and urban spaces. These provide students with the skills and understanding to test, develop and optimise their designs for energy, climate, environment and comfort.
The studio-design courses build on these skills. In Year 4, semester 1, the ‘Integrated Design Studio’ sees architecture students collaborate with Engineering and Sustainable Built Environment students in a unique multi-disciplinary studio environment. This provides a stimulating working environment that mirrors reality; true innovation and high performance outcomes emerge almost exclusively through close collaboration and the sharing of ideas across many disciplines and fields of expertise. In year 4 semester 2, the ‘Hybrid Studio’ challenges students to design a mixed-use high-rise building on a tight urban site in Sydney. The final year grad-studio brings all this student learning together, by asking how can we create complex, high-density architecture that is also high performance – both environmentally and socially. Emphasis is placed on hybrid programmes, and innovative ways of stacking and combining functions, along with developing buildings that respond to the climate, culture and context of their location.
Across Sydney, the skyline is punctuated by cranes. These are the visible symbols of the boom in housing construction that the city is experiencing. Housing is the most active part of the building industry, and accounts for over 80 billion dollars of work annually across Australia. Its products – houses, apartments and townhouses – are also the building types that everyone is most familiar with, and they are the vessels of everyday private life.
Housing therefore takes in many issues and skills. Clever architectural planning is critical for making housing that uses resources effectively, and gives people the best value for their money. Understanding space is essential for giving people pleasure in inhabiting their homes. Having a grasp of broader economic and social ideas is important for understanding where people choose to live, and how housing choices are affected by income and culture. And since housing makes up the bulk of Sydney’s built form, the collective arrangement of housing units not only influences how people interact, but also determines the kind of urban culture that arises around and between these units.
The Housing Stream introduces students to these issues, and provides studios and supporting courses that allow students to work through proposals that imaginatively hone their skills in designing effective and socially relevant housing. Studios will range from the small to the large, from the modest to the advanced, and from the historically proven to the experimental. For many architects housing is a lifetime passion, and the Housing Stream aims to convey why this is so to tomorrow’s practitioners.
Urbanization is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Global urban populations are predicted to stabilize mid-century at around 6.5 billion people. Over this time, Australia’s population is predicted to double. This is an enormous rate of development that is the equivalent of building one Sydney or one Melbourne every decade between now and 2060. The challenges for the built environment are significant - aesthetically, functionally and environmentally.
The public role of the architect is critical in addressing the architectural challenges of global urbanization. Public spaces both within and surrounding buildings are an expression of the culture of a city and demonstrate the urban values of a society and the relationship between the individual and the state. Public space is important because of the way it shapes people’s understanding and experience of the city.
The Architecture and Urban Conditions Stream provides students with the skills, understanding, tools and experiences needed to address the architectural challenges of global urbanization. The stream aims to create a unique type of architectural graduate who has an interest and a commitment to the public role of the architect and an understanding of architecture in a broader interdisciplinary context that includes the fields of landscape architecture, urban design, planning, public art and environmental sustainability.
The Urban Conditions stream in the Masters of Architecture programme focuses on the design of buildings and precincts in the context of the contemporary city and its challenges, including the relationship of buildings to the public domain, urban infrastructure and environmental sustainability. Architecture is therefore conceived of as part of a city, one that contributes richly to its setting and enduringly to its community. Specific emphasis is placed on an understanding and speculating on the physical, historic and cultural aspects of urban settings and the development of design proposals that promote alternative models for future city-building.
In conjunction with courses covering the broad spectrum of architectural understanding, including construction and professional practice, specialist modules in this stream introduce students to urban research methods, urban theory and high performance building systems. These supporting courses provide students with the skills and understanding to test, develop and optimise their designs for functionality, amenity, sustainability and urban placemaking.
The Design Studio courses build on these skills. Design projects across the two years of the M. Architecture are grounded in research-driven design inquiry and the testing and refining of an urban proposition through the development of an architectural project. Projects expose students to a variety of urban conditions and real-world urban problems at a range of scales. This includes sites in the CBD, waterfronts, transport corridors and campuses and programs such civic, cultural education and transport functions. The final year Graduation Studio brings all prior learning together and emphasises research, analysis, the precise framing of an ambitious architectural proposal and the detailed realisation of an architectural work within a complex urban setting.
Cities, and the lives of those who live in them, are rapidly changing. With cities growing around the world by over one million people per week, density, business, technology, infrastructure and commerce offer fantastic opportunities, and also, considerable challenges.
Much city growth across the world is largely unplanned, and for the hundreds of millions of people living in poor-quality settlements, and for those marginalised or ignored in society, or for those forced to flee persecution, cities are places of unfairness, inequality and often isolation.
Given this, the Social Agency Stream explores the central question, ‘what does it take to engage meaningfully in the city?’ For many, architecture, and the role of architects, has been limited, and in some ways side-lined from big urban urban challenges, which in addition to the above include: climate change and its current and future impacts on vulnerable people; societal inequality; and mitigating risks (such as violence and the threat of disaster) and the building of resilience, from neighbourhood to city level.
The Social Agency Stream places as much emphasis on the process of engagement as much as the end-product. Process here means working with a wide range of people in a collaborative approach that results, when successful, in designs that are co-owned by those who took part in the process.
The Social Agency Stream offers a range of core and optional courses, including urban renewal, design diversity and politics, as well as construction, environment and building services.
The Social Agency Design Studio draws on, uses and critiques tools and techniques from several disciplines, which in addition to design includes development, anthropology, humanitarian aid, social science and economics. The outcome therefore is to equip students with the ability to explore and question what lies under the surface of design processes, and to develop a language and a practical skill-set that complements ‘traditional’ design practices.
Learn from the best
We are the only faculty in Australia with a Pritzker Prize winner (regarded as the Nobel Prize in architecture) Professor Glenn Murcutt, UNSW alumnus, on our teaching staff. The academic staff are active researchers, scholars and practitioners who have strong knowledge across all aspects of architecture – design, technical skills, digital computation and history.
The program is designed to encourage you to identify your strength and interest through the directions of streams and a large of number of core and elective courses. Differently put, the M Arch degree at UNSW allows you to tailor your degree according to your own career and professional aspiration.
You are encouraged to actively integrate theory, technology and elective course studies into design studio projects, which will advance your disciplinary depth and understanding of the complexity in architecture and the broader disciplines within the built environment field.
Benefit from world class alumni connections
As a graduate of UNSW Architecture, you will join our highly acclaimed global community of alumni, including Australia’s only Pritzker Prize laureate Professor Glenn Murcutt, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture winner Jimmy Lim, AIA Gold Medallists Keith Cottier, Professors Richard Johnson and Ken Maher, as well as the new generation of award winning architects Anthony Chenchow, Stephanie Little, Felicity Stewart and Matthias Hollenstein.
Graduation Project:The anti-gentrification of Redfern. Benjamin Chan, student.
Once you attain your Master of Architecture degree you will have professional recognition from the NSW Architects Registration Board and Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). You will be eligible, after a recognised period working in a professional setting, to undertake the Professional Practice exam to become a registered Architect.