Students and educational institutions in Australia should seek more opportunities for overseas study trips and exchanges to bring more of an international perspective to design education, the newly elected head of architecture for one of Australia’s leading universities says.

Professor Adrian Carter, who was appointed head of architecture at Bond University’s Abedian School of Architecture last month, said Australia’s education sector in terms of architecture and design was exceptionally good at fostering open mindedness and innovation and was leading the way in terms of access to technology such as modern robotic arms.

He said Australia also puts a strong emphasis on the need to embed concepts of environmental sustainability into the construction of buildings and cities, though there is always room for ongoing improvement in that area.

He added, however, that the profession was becoming increasingly globalised, and that the value of travelling abroad cannot be understated despite distance and cost constraints.

“I think it’s quite important that Australian architects gain a more international perspective,” Carter said, adding that his own study trips as a student had provided much of the inspiration for his own career.

“As architecture becomes an ever more global profession and becomes an export industry as much as any other, (students and graduates) are inevitably going to work globally and will need to be aware of what’s going on not only in here in Australia but in other countries as well.”

“They also need to be able to work in different contexts. Particularly in Asia, cities have a different scale to that which one experiences in Australia and elsewhere. So particularly for those who are going to practice in that area, I think it is important that they get an insight into how those mega-cities function.”

Carter added that it was important to equip students with the people and leadership skills needed to identify and act on new opportunities as they arose.

Professor Adrian Carter

Professor Adrian Carter

Also, with many parts of the construction sector becoming more specialised, he said there are opportunities for those who can combine innovative design with an overview or leadership role, and that those with skills in both areas are well placed.

Regarding teaching methods, Carter would like to see more of a studio-based approach to learning, which is widespread in Europe and standard in the US and involves students coming together in interdisciplinary and sometimes multi-national teams.

While difficulties with time zones and semester schedules create challenges in this area, he says such an approach provides students with experience similar to that of the modern working environment.

In addition to Asia, where he says Australia is going to have an increasing number of opportunities going forward, Carter would like to see architecture students and the education system embrace the developing world.

“There are within the developing countries exciting new emerging cultures and talents within architecture,” he said. “But there is also more that could be learnt from studying the architecture of many other cultures as well as areas where one could contribute and opportunities to build connections which could be very mutually beneficial in the future.

“I think Australia has had a tradition of doing that and I think this is something that we can continue to develop.”