Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre Seminar Series

Landscape Practicum: the experience of Experiential Learning

Date: 8 Oct 2013 (Tuesday)
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Venue: Run Run Shaw Building Room 321, The University of Hong Kong
Speaker: Mr. Matthew Pryor (Head of the Division of Landscape Architecture, HKU)

The realisation of design ideas in physical form through site construction is a fundamental tool in learning and understanding landscape and architectural design. Issues of materiality, structure, scale, cost, performance and design sustainability are best understood through the physical expression of theoretical ideas. The value of practical research / design / physical construction (action research) exercises in developing students understanding is becoming widely recognised, and situated conceptually within the wider field of design as research (Armstrong, 1999 and Bowring, 1997).

In this seminar, Matthew Pryor, reflects on the experience gained from running the new Landscape Practicum course in the BA(LS) curriculum. Students were asked to research, design, fabricate and install a prototype green roof garden on the Runme Shaw Building, under the guidance of outside professional practitioners and using commercial landscape contractors. The course was successful in helping to strengthen students’ understanding of landscape materials, structural systems and fabrication techniques, and providing them with opportunities to become familiar with the critical site processes involved in constructing and operating greening infrastructure elements. The practical and logistical issues in using real sites, the involvement of outside practitioners and commercial parties, and the unfamiliarity of students to the various learning activities and forms of assessment, however, all posed particular teaching challenges which needed to be overcome to achieve positive experiential learning outcomes.

About the Speakers
Matthew Pryor is an Assistant Professor within HKU’s Faculty of Architecture, and is currently Head of the Division of Landscape Architecture and Director for the new BA(Landscape Studies) program. He teaches Design Studio as well as technical courses in construction technology, professional practice and planting design. He is undertaking research into decision making and public opinion in the design urban infrastructure, strategic landscape planning, and technical aspects of subtropical planting design in Hong Kong.

Matthew is a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute in the UK and a Registered Landscape Architect in Hong Kong. He is a Past President of the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects. He has worked for more than 20 years in private practice and has extensive experience in strategic planning, master planning, and contract administration on a very wide range landscape projects throughout China and South East Asia. He has specialist experience in the development of mega-projects such as theme parks, and has also undertaken numerous environmental remediation projects for example creation and enhancement of wetlands.

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