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Landscape architecture is blooming
Michael Kremmer
update on Saturday, January 14, 2012
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Professional opportunities in landscape architecture are plentiful in Hong Kong due to increased demand from property developers, and the government's focus on urban regeneration, environmental sustainability and improvements to public space, among other schemes.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) offers the only undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in landscape architecture in the city.

"Our master's programme aims to give students the skills and knowledge to practice as a registered landscape architect, and raise their awareness of the role of landscape design in helping communities achieve the sustainable living environments that they want," says Matthew Pryor, associate professor and head of landscape architecture at the faculty of architecture of HKU.

The two-year full-time master's in landscape architecture has four main streams - landscape design, visual communication, landscape history and theory, and construction technology. Coursework is based on the design studio, and the technical courses involve classroom lectures, research seminars or workshops, joint studio projects, practical exercises and a range of field visits.

Joint design studio projects have included urban re-development projects in Beijing with students from Tsinghua University's department of landscape architecture, and a collaborative research initiative organised by the University of Southern California, American Academy in China.

This involved student teams from eight different universities on the mainland, the US, Canada and Argentina. The students had to design a set of permanent landscape spaces of around 8,000 square metres at the centre of the 2011 Xi'an International Horticultural Exposition.

Another key element of the programme is the community projects workshop established in 2009 as a way to provide experiential learning experiences for students, while helping local community groups, charities, as well as environmental and heritage groups with limited financial resources.

"Students work voluntarily under the direction of faculty members," says Pryor. "They are involved in research, data collection, design, and community participation exercises. They work with government departments, local authorities and special interest groups which gives them insight into the complex procedures involved in the development process."

In the past, students have prepared design proposals for Wong Uk Historic House, and a small industrial town devastated in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Applicants from various disciplines are welcomed. The programme costs HK$100,000 a year. 

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