MUDD23 International Studios

International Studios

In November 2017, the MUDD 23 students participated in a two week international Design Studio, with the option to travel to either Boston or Lisbon. In Boston, students were hosted by the office of Sasaki Associates and worked in teams to create urban design of contemporary waterfront projects around Seaport Square and Fort Point Channel.

In Lisbon, students were hosted at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias(ULHT), working in teams and interacting with students from ULHT and Erasmus University to create urban design frameworks involving waterfront design challenges at the mouth of the Tagus Estuary. Before leaving Sydney, students have developed a knowledge base of urban policy and financial models for their respective cities.

In two weeks of intensive overseas studio and field work, students were challenged to develop an understanding of the regional context in socio-cultural, political, economic and environmental terms through expert briefings and field investigations and consideration of these factors in the urban design process and appropriateness of the design products. For both international cities, the project as a large-scale urban intervention, provides a rich opportunity for students who are able to engage with local social structure and street level experiences in a creative and critical way and to respond to the global patterns of urbanization. The diverse nature of Lisbon encouraged students to develop and apply specialized knowledge and analytical skills to generate creative, evidence-based design proposals. Through in-depth interaction with the global challenges and political drivers of Boston, students were able to generate urban development in the context of the drama of the city and the spatial political economy. Lisbon & Boston Studio, 2017.

Student experience

The Boston Studio presented a world class performance to the entire class. The studio painted an international city of diversity reflected in history, culture, art, and education with students developing an in depth understanding of city form and nature processes. The city walks took students through a series of cityscapes which presented many contrasts of modern and classic; streets and blocks; individuals and communities to investigate the process of urb

an design in places like Massachusetts State House, Downtown Crossing, South Station, the Financial District, China Town, the Leather District, South Boston, Seaport Square, and many others. The distinctive experience surprised students with unique corners, exquisite street façades, and the unique sense of living in Boston.

To be able to work at Sasaki Associate was one of the most precious experiences in Boston. This provided an opportunity for students to engage with a real life intensive office work mode and absorb various methods of working professionally. Students also visited other practices such as Gensler, the Office of Boston Planning and Development Agency in City Hall, and the office of VHB. These diverse working environments helped us to gain an insight into the operation of the modern design profession.

Overall, Boston Studio was involved in a complex growth and change challenge around the waterfront, factoring in the global challenge of sea level rise to establish sustainability and maintain the functioning of a good city. Having stayed in Boston for two weeks and received the support and critiques from Professor James Weirick and Michael Gheorghiu, we were provided with great motivation to face the challenge of creating better places and communities.


Student experience

Lisbon studio was an impressive experience. Working closely together on a series of projects made us realise that each city has an individual cultural history and urban policy system. An urban design intervention should be based on an in depth understanding of a city. Also, working with local students was challenging but made us all realise the importance of team cooperation in the field of urban design.

With the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias( ULHT) staffs’ guidance, we visited many significant sites and buildings in Lisbon as well as our design precincts in a two-day city walk. This made us fully familiar with the city’s history, culture, wisdom and arts. We were surprised with the impacts on urban planning and building forms that followed the 1755 earthquake. The presentations by Pedro Garcia, Brendan Randle and Karl Fischer helped us gain a better understanding of the city and its urban design. Having stayed in Lisbon for three weeks, we were divided into four groups with local students and were then involved in two complex waterfront projects. The studio provided a platform for each group to an

alyse the site differently and identify issues from various perspectives. To create possible design solutions, students collaborated on waterfront projects that acknowledge the global crisis of climate change and rising sea levels. Through understanding that waterfronts are vital in developing the relationship between residents and the city, the teams found various and innovative ways to reconnect the city with the river and to other fragmented parts of its urban structure. The opportunity to collaborate with local and other European students not only helped us understand Lisbon better, but also provided us with an exciting design process that integrated international urban thinking.