Landscape Architecture student designs campus wetland

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Unitec students across a number of disciplines have played a key role in the transformation of Unitec, both the buildings and surrounding landscape.

This includes the wetland that will capture storm water from the roof of the new Construction, Infrastructure and Engineering (CIE) building, before being discharged into Oakley Creek. It was designed by Kevin Zhu, a post graduate student in the Masters of Landscape Architecture programme.

Wetlands are increasingly used in urban developments as a way to capture dust, metals and pollutants contained in storm water runoff.

With the help of Matthew Bradbury, Associate Professor in the Architecture Pathway, Kevin developed a landscape concept working within the framework of the new campus master plan, taking into account the existing landscape features, particularly the valley character of the catchment and the existing volcanic outcrop.

Working with a real client came with real-world constraints, which Kevin says was sometimes frustrating but invaluable. “We are designers in classroom projects, but we operate as if resources are unlimited and we can dictate the project outcome. In the real world our outcome is constrained by the available resources. We also need to convince other team members to work with us to develop the design.”

Landscape architects would be familiar with that process, says Matthew. “We like to concentrate on design, but in reality that’s five percent of the job. Much of landscape architecture practice is going to meetings, going to site, talking to engineers, dealing with people telling you how to do things. The whole process of getting something built is reliant on getting on with other people. A lot of successful design is about negotiation.” ‘ Kevin shows how Unitec students are getting chance to develop real world skills as part of there post graduate studies ‘

The transformation of Unitec is giving students a way to get real world experience, which they can point to on their CV,” says Christian Hurzeler, Project Developer, Strategic Property, Unitec. “And it allows us to leverage the skills and talents we have on campus, to get more efficiencies out of the project, whether that’s through saving money -- which can then be invested in other Unitec projects -- or saving time, or through having a more honest outcome.”

“We’ve got this amazing capital works project, so we’re asking staff to find ways to integrate student projects into that, in consultation with us. Staff want to provide real-world experiences for their students, and they have these opportunities right on their doorstep.”

Find out more about studying Landscape Architecture at Unitec:

Study Landscape Architecture Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Order Study Guide