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Western Sydney University to develop architecture program

Western Sydney University will become the newest Australian provider of an architecture program in 2018, following the appointment of the university’s first chair of architecture, professor Chris Knapp.

Working within the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, Knapp will lead the development of a program in architecture and urban transformation.

Knapp is the director of Studio Workshop, a practice that bills itself as working at the “intersection of design, technology, craftsmanship, and the built environment” combining conventional practice techniques with digital fabrication processes in residential and commercial works. He comes to Western Sydney University after having coordinated a range of architecture programs at Bond University’s Abedian School of Architecture since its inception in 2011.

Western Sydney University deputy vice-chancellor and vice president Denise Kirkpatrick said the appointment heralded a new phase for the university.

“Professor Knapp brings to the chair of architecture position a unique skill set that intersects the fields of architecture, design, contemporary construction, and technology,” she said.

“As a practitioner, Professor Knapp is renowned for pushing technological boundaries and working on progressive, modern projects with a social and environmental conscience.

“As an academic and educator, he aims to inspire the next generation of architects to imagine new possibilities for the built environment, by creating architecture underpinned by progressive values, innovative thought, and social purpose.”

Knapp’s academic and PhD research examines the transformational effects of digital fabrication technologies on contemporary architectural practice.

“Greater western Sydney is rapidly changing and offers a dynamic urban laboratory in which to educate future architects,” Knapp said of his new role.

“Our goal is to equip this generation with intellectual, interdisciplinary, and technical skills that will expand the range and capability of the architectural profession to transform the complex challenges of the 21st century city for the benefit of society.”

A spokesperson for the university said placing the program within the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics would mean students would benifit from a strong technological and interdisciplinary focus.

“[The program will] enable students with advanced tools and techniques to not only transform approaches to urbanism but to help reshape the architectural discipline – such as [through] advanced manufacturing and algorithmic design,” the spokesperson said.

There are currently 18 accredited schools of architecture in Australia, while Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology announced plans to introduce an architecture program in June.

Professor Knapp will take up his role in October 2017. The program is slated to commence with a bachelor of architectural design undergraduate offering from mid-2018. A master of architecture and urban transformation will be accepting students for the start of 2019.

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