Iliya Manasiev: RMIT, Melbourne
Hello from down under, or if I have to say it in formal Aussie slang: G’day!
I am very grateful to be the student sent this year for the exchange in RMIT, Melbourne. As an architecture student, I have always been very interested in travelling and building my architectural vision based on different places designed throughout the years influenced by culture, history, local needs and conditions. After I finished my Bachelor Degree in Scotland, knowing about the opportunities of exchange for my fourth year, I was determined to apply for a country very different from UK in terms of architectural styles, culture and climate. Knowing there is only one spot for students of GSA in RMIT, I was not very confident with my application for Australia but looking back now, I am so happy I have chosen this university.
RMIT as an institution is very different from GSA. The university is very technical in terms of their take on architecture and is very technological and innovative. One of my major project was researching the possibilities of design software and how they can be more incorporated in the design process in order to use the full capacity of technology but not only as a drawing tool. I had the opportunity to work with robots and observe their behaviour. Many of the final year Master students in RMIT do dissertations on how robots can change the way we design and build, and it was an interesting opportunity for me to find out what new advancements are available. As Australia is geographically located close to Asia and the continent has a big architectural market, many of the university projects are focused on problems regarding design in fast-developing countries. For my first semester major project, I worked on proposal for a master plan development for a new city in Malaysia. This was a challenge for me, as a student in GSA, we have been focusing on regulations, cultural preferences and climate conditions across
Europe and how those factors influence architectural design. It was a great opportunity to try and develop a concept for a place with different perspectives when it comes to architecture.
After the exchange, I feel like I have gained plenty of knowledge which I can integrate in my work when I return to GSA for my fifth year. I stepped away from what I was doing before and I was challenged to try something else, something new, which is always a good experience.
Melbourne is one of the most amazing cities I have been in – an international city which is home for people from all over the world. During my stay here I made friends from Japan, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, Israel and many many other people from different backgrounds. Everyone is so far away from home and they start building new families and when it is time to leave, it feels like I am leaving home once again. The people define the character of a city and Melbourne is named ‘The world’s most liveable city’ 3 years in a row for that reason. The culture of this place is so amazing. Every week there is an event worth checking out – different installations throughout the city or some new exhibition in one of the galleries.
When I got the news that I was granted with the GSA Travel Bursary, I decided that I would use these funds to explore as much as I can in my time in Australia. Every time there was an opportunity, I booked flight tickets and went to visit most of the big cities. During my first month I went to Sydney where The Sydney Opera House by Jorn Utzon. This building is inspiration for many architectural students including me and being able to take a closer look and learn about all of the stories behind the design was a great experience.
I also went to the third largest city, Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. It is famous for its warm weather and its close proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia such as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. It is also the state where you are allowed to hug koala bears, one of my missions in ‘Oz’.
After I successfully finished my exchange, I rewarded myself with a trip to Margaret River. A region that is found in Western Australia and the place where most Europeans get to experience the real Australia like how they have always imagined to be - great weather all year around, kangaroos, snakes and spiders behind every corner and the best surfing beaches. I got to travel to Perth and Margaret River with a friend visiting from Iceland, who I met during her exchange in GSA which goes to show how exchange programs can introduce you to different people who you can share experiences with from all over the world.
I am extremely grateful for the experience I had in my year down under. It has taught me many things as an aspiring architect and as a person. The support given to me by ‘Friends of GSA’ has made my year a lot more special and memorable because of the things I was able to do and experience.