Landscape architecture is the planning, design and management of natural as well as urban environments. Landscape architects strive to improve the quality of environmental and human well-being through their design. We design streetscapes, parks, residences, plazas, playscapes and other (predominantly outdoor) spaces , bringing together aspects of nature, place and people.
In NUS, students have to read a total of 160 modular credits, (or the equivalent of 40 modules) to graduate. Each module is like a course with its own topic, assignments and assessment criteria (e.g History of Landscape Architecture, Introduction to Ecology, Introduction to Computing, etc). Typically, landscape architecture students will take a design module every semester. This design module is where students learn to conceive, design and curate their landscape architecture proposals in a design studio setting. Students will develop their designs over the semester (13 weeks). At the end of the semester, students will present their works to a panel of reviewers.
For the NUS Bachelor of Landscape Architecture programme, students will get to design and handle different scales of landscapes as they progress in their study. They will also get to learn various tools and techniques to aid them in their analysis and design development, such as 3D modelling, rendering, simulation, geo-spatial analysis and field work. Each design studio is led by a tutor who will guide the student over the entire duration of the project.
Each student has a designated space in his/her studio. The design theme is different every semester so students get to be creative, indulge in the design process and explore novel ideas. As design work can be quite intensive, students working together in a studio setting get to spend a lot of time with each other. It is normal to find students helping each other and providing feedback for their designs. Many students have cultivated deep friendships through this process.
BLA Year 1
In year one, students are exposed to the basics of design, sensing landscape elements and interpreting spaces. Students are free to express themselves through different mediums. The example below shows panels by BLA Year 1 students for a land art project (Theme: Chicken roaming around campus):
Towards the end of each semester, there will be a final design review session. Students have to present their works to a panel of reviewers:
Here is Arya, a BLA Year 1 student sharing her experience on design studio:
Check out selected student works here:
BLA Year 2
Landscape architecture is not restricted to designing plants and gardens. We also create meaningful spaces for people, looking into social and political dimensions in the area of interest. For instance, the theme for BLA Year 2 design studio was “Landscapes of Inclusivity”: Students had to engage residents of the Queenstown Health District to understand their needs and how to improve aspects of everyday life. The video below shows students presenting their schemes to various collaborators, such as Queenstown library, Lions Befrienders and Queenstown Kakis:
Sometimes (actually, most of the time) you will see students clowning around: That’s normal, it’s what makes studio fun:
BLA Year 3
Presentation is not limited to printed panels and physical models. In Year 3, students will spend one semester developing their design purely via digital means. This includes learning software such as photogrammetry, 3D-modelling such as Rhinoceros 3D and Grasshopper, basic simulation as well as rendering tools. Students can tap on AR and VR tools to showcase their designs. Some students have also made virtual walkthroughs and even games for their final presentations (with Unity, Roblox, etc) Some snippets can be seen below:
BLA Year 4
In the later years, students will get to design larger spaces, at times beyond local borders. The videos below show the field trips and design review for BLA 4 / MLA 1: Liveable Kluang (Malaysia)
MLA 1 = Master of Landscape Architecture Year 1
This was bittersweet, as it was the final design studio for our first batch of BLA 4 students who will be graduating after the current semester.
BLA students can apply to read the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) programme in their 4th year of study. The MLA course is a 2 year programme but BLA graduates can go straight to year 2 of the programme. The design studio will include overseas sites such as Philippines and Korea. The exact site is dependent on the studio group and will change every semester.
SILA Mentorship Program
Students in the BLA and MLA program can sign up for the SILA Mentorship Program, where they will be paired with LA practitioners to learn about LA practice in Singapore. Through this platform, students can ask for career advice, have a clearer idea on their career pathways and are much better prepared for working life by the time they graduate. Participation is voluntary. Photos of the inaugural mentorship pairing and mingling session are shown below. Photos are from SILAS, for more information refer to Linkedin post here.
Landscape Architecture Collective (LAC)
The Landscape Architecture Collective (LAC) is a student-led body comprising of BLA students. LAC has produced interesting content pertaining to landscape architecture and student life in NUS. During the semester, LAC also organizes events and welfare activities for students. LAC is active on social media platforms such as:
Youtube – Podcasts with topics related to landscapes and sharing of student exchange experience
Tiktok – Reels showing students monkeying around. Work hard play harder
Instagram – Posts of landscape related activities and events, such as guest lectures, planting day, overseas field trips, welfare efforts, exhibitions, etc.
Personally, I am really proud of my students for leading this.
BLA/MLA is a small group, so it is great to see everyone chipping in to make things better.
Contact Terrence @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Official NUS DOA website here
Here is a digital publication of the BLA and MLA Yearbook:
Here’s a brochure with some information: