What exactly will the support line consist of?
The support line will consist of a contact person that the students can confide in, regarding small or big concerns. The ambition is to refine this service as a pilot project over time according the students’ needs, or whatever that might be bothering them during studies and in the transition from student life to a professional life. Some of the concerns mentioned from the student workshop in April, was technicalities of setting up a firm, how to keep the firm alive, accounting, approaches in competitions entries, defining entrepreneurial ventures and ambitions, how to present oneself as a professional, establish industry contacts etc.
The real question is not what the support line will consist of, but who will be contact person the students can reach out or relate to, of certain age, relevance, and experience?
Tin Phan, that the students can contact, in which aside from being a project employee he also heads his own office. Since establishing his own firm at the age of 27, straight out of school (AHO) in 2016, Tin has not only gone through the trials and tribulations of being professionally independent he has also participated on various levels of architectural and urban parallel commissions and competitions with remarks in the last two years. Most recently, he served in the winning bid for the Regional Parliament Building of Hordaland, or more importantly with the upcoming Europan, the special mention in the Europan 14 he received with 2 other students. Other prolific entries in 2018 include Ibsen Library, Lørenskog station area, former U.S. Embassy in Oslo etc.
There are many prolific competitions that the students can/could join this year, 120 Hours, IFLA student design competition, and the ongoing Europan 15 in which can be done entirely in the June-block etc. The culture of participating in these are not commonplace among the LANDSAM students. Yet, a spark was ignited among the students when they found out 2 alumnae of their own had won the Europan 13 in Bærum 2013. Still, to join in the 15th round still felt like a bit of a stretch for them. With this support line, SITRAP also aims to remove any doubt among students to publicly voice their own opinions and ideas in these types of commissions.
The question is, what aspects of the NMBU training gives the LANDSAM students a competitive edge, and of all things, in traditional design competitions or other prolific parallel commissions?
To answer this question, we must look at the current tendency in these, and the fact that the contact person for this support line does not design at all. He is sought after for an unlikely and unforeseen set of skills that complements traditional design work. Based on Tin’s personal experiences in these sorts of endeavors, he lists up some skills in demand and topics he usually has proven crucial himself as a professional. He points out that some hallmarks that may overlap with what the students are trained in at LANDSAM (this mainly applies to dept. of Landscape Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning, Property and Law):
- Interdisciplinary teamwork. In the last dozen calls for prolific parallel commissions are currently encouraging unrelated offices of different professions to join forces to acquire these commissions. What becomes very apparent in the teams that goes through the selection, is that interdisciplinary processes of how to proceed in a team are usually non-existent, due to the high ambition of interdisciplinary constellations.
- Societal perspective. Many of the entry reports in competitions are currently written by architects/urbanists. Sometimes abstract concepts such as identity, culture, or society are described in the lens of concrete architecture, or geographical description.
- Theoretical argumentation. The training on how to write convincingly is lacking, as far as structure and coherent arguments go, in different entry reports or boards. Often, design teams of highly ranked competitions lack the skills to present societal, political and social concepts that are convincing or transcends the basic design of bricks and mortar.
- Convincingly make use of public documents in the projects. Treatments or interpretations of for example area plans or municipal reports/briefs, that can unveil the ambitions made by government officials, that are in between the sentences. Analytical abilities, or a translator that can root it in a competitive setting is of highest value.
- A demand for independent landscape offices, or individuals within the field, carrying out executive choices in the domain of architecture. Landscape architects are currently being headhunted for executive positions by a handful of prolific architectural offices of all sizes, in the Oslo region. There is also only a handful of young, and independent landscape offices to choose from that can compete alongside seasoned architectural contenders.