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UNSW Built Environment MOOC on Enchantment and City-Making

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Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat is the first free online course offered by UNSW Built Environment. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) aims at introducing aspiring professionals in the built environment to the environmental, social, cultural and political aspects of urban development. It uses a case study of Central Park Sydney, which includes a high-rise residential tower designed by Parisian architect Jean Nouvel, awarded the World’s Best Tall Building in 2014 and a five star green rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

The course explores the evolution of the development and has a range of video interviews with stakeholders, including the famous French botanist, Patrick Blanc, who designed One Central Park’s 1,120 sqm vertical gardens. Other notable interviews include the former Dean of UNSW Built Environment, Emeritus Professor Alec Tzannes, Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of City of Sydney Council, Ross Palmer, Partner at Foster + Partners, Dr Stanley Quek, former Chairman of Frasers Property Australia, Chris Johnson, former NSW Government Architect and former Executive Director, NSW Department of Planning.

The course was made possible through Adobe Creative Cloud software. Forty-five videos were created, spread out over a six week course schedule. Interview and educator videos were edited with Adobe Premiere Pro, with motion graphics produced in AfterEffects together with Photoshop and Illustrator. Video filming and production work was primarily done by The Creative Foundry who also created a teaser for the MOOC used for marketing.

The large amount of video material was structured into three key perspectives – stakeholders and professionals involved with Central Park Sydney, academic discussions from staff of UNSW Built Environment, and a narrative delivered by Elizabeth Farrelly, Associate Professor of Practice and Sydney Morning Herald columnist. Each perspective received its own colour scheme and motion graphics video driver, with purple for the narrative, green for professions and yellow for academic.

UNSW Built Environment academic educators include Associate Professor Oya Demirbilek, Associate Dean (Education), Professor Susan Thompson, Director of City Well-being, City Futures Research Centre, Dr Paola Favaro, Associate Professor Linda Corkery, Dr Miles Park, and Bruce Watson, Discipline Director of Interior Architecture.

In addition to video content, learners are provided with a number of infographic PDFs, produced with Photoshop and Illustrator. These infographics cover the timeline of the development, provide location referencing to the site, annotate the buildings, park and public art, visualize density and scale, and explain the development’s energy production system.

Since the course was designed to be introductory, suitable for school students, the learning activity is primarily through discussions and promotes a social engagement amongst participants. The discussions relate to the professions of architecture, urban design, city planning, construction management and property, sustainable development, landscape architecture, industrial design, and interior architecture.

Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat ran for the first time in May to June 2016 through the FutureLearn Platform. It was well received by participants who praised the quality of the material, shared their satisfaction of the social learning structure, and commended the diversity of contributions.

The course will run again from 4 September 2016 and is open to all, whether high school students interested in fields of the built environment, current students, professionals interested in a career change, or anyone looking to expand their knowledge about city-making.

To enroll, visit here.

Guest Post By: Dean Utian, The University of New South Wales (UNSW)