During my first year in Australia in 2010/2011, I fell in love with the country, Sydney, the people, the food and with that special kind of atmosphere that surrounds you in the streets, parks and waterfront areas.
The topic for the thesis arose while walking through the city in August 2014, trying to figure out what it is that makes this city so interesting and endearing to me. Through photography and an active participation in public spaces around the city (in particular spaces off the main tourist attractions), I attempted to get a greater understanding of the daily life and the people of Sydney. It is not just in my personal interest to understand why and how certain intuitive feelings towards our urban environment are generated, but also in my profession as a landscape architect to use this knowledge in order to create livable places for vital urban communities.
In order to collect all relevant information for my master’s thesis, and to use the time in Sydney efficiently, I had to prepare the trip in advance. The preparation also helped to set a focus on developing the main questions my thesis is aiming to answer. The University of Sydney offers both postgraduate coursework programs in urban and regional design/planning and social science and provided thus a wide range of useful literature within its library for my field of research. In addition, it was a great experience to become acquainted with campus life abroad and the University of Sydney itself. I felt very welcome and help was always offered when needed.
Studying the area of Oxford Street including neighbouring suburbs was the second part of my research work in Sydney. I used photography as a medium to focus on details and capture the characteristic moments of this particular area. While watching and observing the streetscape, I had the chance to talk to different people – residents, tourists, and shop owners – to get insider information and learn about everyday life on Oxford Street.
The experiences I made during my stay in Sydney are vital for the following work stages and fundamental for a satisfying result because understanding a place or room does not mean to simply know the measurements and the facilities surrounding this space. In my opinion, the work of a landscape architect or planner has to include a site visit and a basic study of the environment, the people, the social structure and the characteristic conditions of the area to be planned.
Especially when working on a concept or a vision for places in a different country with a different cultural background, a different climate and different circumstances to deal with, it is imperative to visit and study this area.
The visit, work and life in Sydney has not only been informative and successful regarding the master’s thesis but also pleasurable and stimulating. Motivation and inspiration for my future as a landscape architect.