Bachelor of Design – UNSW

I am very pleased to see the course content of the Bachelor of Design course at UNSW. In my view, anyone interested in design could do a lot worse than persuing further detail on this degree course.

The studio and workshop facilities look excellent:

Our degree program features specialist studio and workshop facilities in the following areas:

  • Applied object design including designing objects, furniture and lighting
  • Communication, identity and branding, media and advertising
  • Interactive design and computing; web design and screen interface; wearables, digital and pre-press design
  • Environments and spatial design including interiors, exhibition, theatre, urban and landscape design
  • Design management and creative strategy
  • Graphic media studio includes visual identity design; book and magazine design; digital media; illustration; experimental typography; and letterpress printing
  • Design history, theory and aesthetics
  • Social innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Ceramics including designing objects for the table, industry, interiors, installation and experimental design works
  • Jewellery studio including design for the body, costume and fashion; designs for the table, interiors and industry; installation and experimental object design
  • Textiles studio including design for the body, costume design, accessories and fashion; objects, interiors, and designing for the commercial textiles industry; installation and experimental textile art and design

Further reading at:

unsw design


Next Generation Decking Design

We Aussies love our decks and have done so for over 100 years. The warm Sydney climate has made alfresco style dining emerge as a new trend with home designers in recent years. The humble treated pine deck has evolved considerably over the last 3 years and as a designer i am intrigued by the new decking materials and products now available.

We have recently built a new deck on our eastern suburbs home and i was keen to get the deck made from one of the new synthetic decking materials. I did the deck design myself and designed it as a 2 tier deck with ample room for an integrated kitchen area, a retractable, electric motor driven shade cloth to provide for shading over the entire deck area and a built in seating area capable of seating 12 people.

I ended up using modwood which is a man made decking material made from recycled plastic bottles and wood chips – how simple is that! The benefits of synthetic decking material include:

  • totally maintenance free
  • requires no priming, painting , staining or decking oil
  • easily drilled and cut to size
  • guaranteed for 25 years

I got Paul Ryan from Handyman Eastern Suburbs to do the installation of the deck. He is a very experienced handyman and has worked in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for over 25 years. I drew up the cutting list and Paul used his drop saw to cut all the components to size. He then cemented the footings into place and installed the decking bearers. The modwood decking was then installed onto the bearers. I designed a stainless steel hand rail system which looks stunning (photo’s to follow).

The project will be completed in the next few weeks. We have ordered a low maintenance outdoor kitchen from Bunnings which Paul, our skilled handyman will install. Sometimes using an experienced handyman like Paul can be a better option than employing a carpenter as his carpentry skills are probably better than 90 percent of so-called ‘tradesmen’. Over the next few weeks i will post photo’s of the finished deck  - stay tuned!



Solar Powered Subfloor Ventillation – Technology and Design In Action

It is nice to see the convergence of technology, design and good old Aussie know how. I live in a 102 year old house that has, like many older residencies in Australia a predisposition for damp in the winter months. The damp comes up from the ground under my house – it was built in a time when houses were not built on concrete slabs. Therefore damp ground underneath the home makes it way into the house via migration up the wall, through rising damp air and good old condensation which means damp walls and inevitable mould and a generally unhealthy environment.

Solar and D.C. Fans To The Rescue and a Skilled Handyman

Ok, so we have a problem –  a damp sub floor. So how do we fix this? I have seen small muffin fanmuffin style d.c. fans used under houses to blow and circulate air around. I decided to go down this track and purchased 12 Sunon 12 volt d.c. fans and wanted them installed onto the floor bearers under each and every room in the house. I called my local inner west handyman Martin to come round and assist with the installation. He used 10 mm rubber grommets between the fan chasis and the timber floor bearers to minimise vibration and noise when the fans were running. Next, i got Martin to install a 120 watt Kyocera solar panel onto our back shed’s roof in a northerly aspect to maximise power from the solar panel. The solar panel was then wired, via pvc conduit, into the 12 volt d.c. fans and hey presto – a subfloor fan ventilation system that requires NO a.c. power to drive the fans. We now have a damp free house – Q.E.D.


Wire Wound Potentiometers To The Rescue

11 January 2014 – Using Variable Resistance To Control Irrigation Flow

My friend Ryan Fabris asked my to look at the design of his irrigation system that supplies bore water to his organic saffron crop he is trialling in the A.C.T. The irrigation system is quite simple in concept and uses:

  1. Direct current electrical pump with around 30 litres per minute capacity to pump water through a series of flexible pvc pipes
  2. The pipes are sunk into trenches dug into the soil at a depth of around 15 centimeters and these pipes run approximately 50 centimeters from the saffron plants
  3. The electrical pump needs to be carefully controlled to ensure that the flow of water through the system meets the requirements for watering the crop but at the same time ensuring that water is preserved wherever possible. The A.C.T. has fairly strict water usage legislation and it is imperative that the available ground water is used appropriately.

Controlling The Water Pump By Using A Wire Wound Potentiometer

My early foray into electronic control circuitry came into use in this project. I established that the power rating of the pump was sufficient to achieve maximum water flow to the irrigation system but by carefully controlling the current fed to the pump i could also control the amount of water flow – thereby maximising usage of the available water but ensuring adequate water was fed to the crop. I ordered a wire wound potentiometer from Sydney based Resistor Specialists. The wire wound potentiometer has a 3 watt rating and can be mounted into the irrigation control panel easily via a simple threaded bush assembly on the potentiometer. A resistance value of 330 ohms (ohms is a measure of electrical ‘resistance’, which is the measure of how much current is or is not passed in the electrical circuit). By being able to control the resistance value via the potentiometer, feeding to the water pump from the 30 watt Meanwell power supply, i was able to create an elegant way wire wound potentiometerof controlling the water flow into the irrigation system. The wattage of the potentiometer seems to be important. Many potentiometers are made from a carbon wiper assembly, which controls the available electrical resistance. Most carbon potentiometers have only a small power rating – typically 1/4 watt up to 1 watt (wattage is a measure of electrical power and is calculated by the mulitple of the square of the current flowing times the the resistance, or in mathematical terms Power = I squared times R, where I= electrical current and R = resistance).

Correct Water Flow Achieved

It is satisfying to be able to assist in a simple engineering problem and find an elegant, cost effective (the potentiometer, wiring and mounting system cost less than $100 to install) solution. The water flowing to the crop can now be easily controlled ensuring maximum crop yield and minimum water wastage. Q.E.D.

Australian Institute of Architects’ 2014 National Architecture Conference – 8 to 10 May 2014

This is a not to be missed event if you have a passion for creative architecture. The team of Adam Haddow, Helen Norrie and Sam Crawford are well respected in the design industry and i for one will be attending. Details below:

The act of making; the dirtiness, directness and honesty of architecture is the inspiration behind the theme for the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2014 National Architecture Conference

2014 National Architecture Conference

The conference will be hosted in Perth for the first time in more than a decade.

Adam Haddow, Helen Norrie and Sam Crawford were announced as the 2014 creative team with their theme, Making, by the AIA’s national president Paul Berkemeier.

Inspiration for the theme came from the process of making architecture, rather than simply the presentation of architecture as a finished product. Additionally, the collaborative relationship and catalytic projects that lead to cultural change and shift the context of architectural practice also contributed.

The team explained, “Our interest lies both in the machinations of the process, and the beauty, delight and surprise of excellence. Making will be a celebration of ideas. It will celebrate approaches to achieving architectural excellence that challenge cultural, economic, social and political environments. It will be through an investigation of the unknown that our own place will be revealed more clearly.

“How do we learn, as practitioners, from these alternative processes, the wins and losses, the mistakes and coincidences that led to better outcomes?

“‘We want to hear from the speakers about other ways of making architecture. How architecture is made in other cultural, economic and geographic contexts, particularly Asia, Latin America and Africa,” they say.

The theme of Making will also explore the expanding role of the architect and consider a broader definition of ‘architect as maker’ – not just of singular buildings, but as the maker of environments and connections that extend the bounds of traditional practice.

Contemporary architects are not constrained to the drawing board, the team say, but are engaged with communities and cross-disciplinary collaboration. Architects are often a champion of political change.

“We are interested in a new emerging role of the architect and the different ways of “making” across a range of circumstances.”

The national conference is an opportunity for architects to celebrate their profession and enjoy a collegiate environment, as well as be inspired and energised from practitioners who share the same ambition, but differ in approach and context, the team says.

Keynote speakers, panelists and the creative team will further investigate ‘making’ through four sub-themes – Making: Culture, Life, Connections and Impact.

About the team

Adam Haddow is a director of SJB. He has received numerous awards and is known most for his work on multiple housing and his engagement in ideas about the future of our cities. He is a contributor to many journals and is actively involved in built form advocacy through the AIA.

Helen Norrie is an academic in the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania and a writer, curator and architectural critic contributing regularly to national and international architecture and design discussions.

After leaving university Sam Crawford established his own practice. Sam Crawford Architects has since been widely published nationally and internationally and has been recipient of numerous state and national awards including a 2012 NSW Architecture Award and National Commendation for the Smee Schoff House.

The National Architecture Conference – Making – will be held in Perth from 8 to 10 May 2014.