Sacha Coles, ASPECT Studios
As part of the launch of AILA’s Work Experience Directory, we interviewed a number of members to discover more about the experience of practices in engaging and inspiring the next generations of landscape architects.
When/how did you first discover Landscape Architecture, what attracted you to it, and how did you pursue it as a career?
When I was in High School, I was very interested in Cultural issues, Geography, Art and Environmentalism. When school finished, I worked with a Dutch Landscape Architect in Sydney, as both of my brothers had studied Architecture, and it just felt like a perfect fit for my interests. I travelled extensively and became very interested in design, in particular designing environments for the betterment of people.
How does ASPECT contribute to fostering the next generation of Landscape Architects (intern programs, educational seminars etc.), and what has been the greatest achievement of these initiatives?
ASPECT is a youthful practice and we are constantly excited and energised by new ideas and new ways of practicing. This interest extends to giving experience and support to young and future practitioners and we have a commitment to at least one International intern at one time.
We also have a range of Graduates from Australia and overseas in both Landscape Architecture and Architecture. Several of our people are committed to teaching at Universities and our senior staff often give seminars and public talks.
I am currently an Adjunct Professor at UTS – the newest Landscape Architecture program in Australia and another one of our Directors is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT. We promote our young staff to achieve excellence and a great achievement from this, was when one of our now senior members Lauren Nissen was awarded with a Future Leaders Award from AILA.
What would your advice be to other practices in the industry that are considering engaging work experience students or interns?
Engaging interns is highly beneficial for a practice. In my experience, the desire to learn and be involved that comes along with employing an intern contributes to the studio culture in positive ways. Interns and work experience students also provide the opportunity for existing staff to gain experience in mentoring and teaching.
What would your advice be to Landscape Architecture student’s seeking/completing work experience?
Do it. It will be a unique compliment to your study and you will quickly see how theory and application sit together. It also gives you the opportunity to widen your social and professional spheres. Learning does not stop once you have finished University, the connections that you make as in intern could set you up for a lifetime of learning in ways that you may have not realised if you did not seek out the opportunity.
When applying, try to create a point of difference on your application and put yourself in a Director’s shoes.