Students given the creative lead to reimagine uni campuses

Monday, 9 November 2020

The University of Newcastle has today announced the winning team and installation in its recently completed Design-a-Place Marker competition.  Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, joined the winners and competition convenors to reveal the design of the new Callaghan campus place marker, which will be installed at Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses.

Professor Zelinsky said the Design-A-Place Marker competition was run to offer a challenge to students from the School of Architecture and Built Environment and the School of Creative Industries. Entrants were tasked with creating a sculpture that would provide a visually appealing and creative installation across the University of Newcastle campuses that could also be used by students and community visitors in photos at events such as graduation.

“It makes sense for us to involve students in creating our environments on campus – it's where they study and socialise and it’s these spaces that will leave a lasting impression of university life,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“The winning design needed to visually reflect the University’s values and provide a sense of arrival and inspiration for gathering, sharing photos and celebrating occasions from our campuses.”

The design that stood out to the judging panel presented a unique and playful interpretation on the University logo. Titled The Journeythe four-pillar sandstone sculpture was designed to represent the University’s values of equity, excellence, engagement and sustainability.

The winning team was made up of fifth year Architecture students, Laurance Low Wen Jieh, Meixin Du and Pau Jin Wei who believe the collection of sculptures speaks to their enriching journey with the university. The group explained to the panel that it was through experiencing the University’s values throughout their studies, they were better prepared to embrace their new chapter as life-ready graduates.

“We were keen to enter the competition because we wanted to give back to the university that gave us so much. We wanted to leave our mark on the campus in some way,” Laurence said.

“Students should think not only what we acquire from the university, but also what can we give back. Upon seeing the poster promoting the competition, I knew this was an opportunity for us to do just that,” Meixin said.

A key aspect of the design competition was to integrate a cultural overlay into the finished product, by collaborating with Indigenous artists. To expand on this sense of place-making in a culturally connected sense, the project team have recently released an expression of interest (EOI), inviting Indigenous artists from all nations across NSW to collaborate with the winning designers and further expand on the design.

Other finalists will also have an opportunity to see their submissions come to life in the near future.

Chloe Goldsmith and Callum Coombe and their design idea Shifting Perspectives will be commissioned and installed within the natural bush gardens adjacent to the University’s graduation walk.

Additionally, Lachlan Howard’s A Star Amongst Many design was engaging and interactive and imbued a sense of fun that will become part of our key celebration days such as Open Day and O Week.

“It’s inspiring to see future architectural practitioners explore opportunities for enhancing the University’s campuses.  All of the competition entrants are to be commended for passion, creativity, and commitment to improving student experience and our environments,” said Professor SueAnne Ware, Head of School, School of Architecture and Built Environment.

“The panel was so impressed by the standard of all eight submissions,” Professor Ware said.

Professor Zelinsky echoed the panel’s sentiments, adding “I’m personally looking forward to the EOI which come in for the next Design-A-Place from our state’s Indigenous artists. These competitions are a wonderful way to share the creativity of our communities across our campuses,” he said.

The Design A Place Marker competition has a $5000 winner’s prize.

For further information please contact media@newcastle.edu.au on (02) 4921 5577


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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.