Post C: A Student Perspective on International Collaboration

Will Kelly is a third year Interior and Spatial Design (ISD) student at UTS. He was selected as part of a small group of Architecture and ISD students to travel to Banda Aceh in Indonesia to investigate theories on Social Spaces. During their time in Banda Aceh, the majority of their work focused upon the Acehnese social dynamics, understanding Sharia Law and learning about how younger generations have positioned themselves ten years removed from the devastating 2004 Indonesian Tsunami. The aim of the studio was to realise opportunities for further creative engagement and expression of youth through speculative urban interventions, specifically addressing local coffee shops. A trip of this nature inherently provides opportunities to work with local students it also allows for comparisons between design approaches and the differences in educational approaches become far more pronounced as students work side by side.

“It was generally just interesting to see how open there minds were to design, how they thought about there ability to challenge it, re-define existing things”.

Will cited the effect of religion on daily life to be the most prominent difference between students, working in Australia he was used to a more fluid day in which activities could be undertaken more flexibly, while Indonesian students led more structured daily schedules which generally inhibited progress as work was halted for religious activities. He lamented the stop start nature of their work which theoughout his project had negative effects on both overall progress as well as group morale. The very different backgrounds of respective designers lead to an interesting ongoing dialogue and discrepancy regarding the ability to impact and re define existing practices. Will’s tone certainly suggested frustration with the way his Indonesian counterparts had their hands somewhat tied on any parts of the projects which seemed to encroach upon traditional values. Will suggested the experience gave him a fresh appreciation for the openness of Australian society and he seemed thankful for its lack of positioning as religious nation.Another major difference identified lay in the differences in style of education he and his Indonesia counterparts had undertaken so far.

“I think its hard to pin-point the exact way this trip impacted me, but as a whole these experiences, challenges and engagement with people from other cultural backgrounds can only add to all aspects of your daily life”

He understood the Indonesian style of education to focus more on the creation of large structures and schemes and on a broader approach to problems, while UTS emphasises small moments and encounters, thinking about how things are being resolved and challenging those solutions while also considering new methods and ways of separating and merging social and spatial systems. This no doubt stems from the freedom UTS gives in aggressively redefining social norms which the Indonesian students seemed to shy away from. In understanding how the experience will affect him as a designer, Will was unsure, but he was quick to acknowledge the value experiences like his trip to Banda Aceh will have on his breadth of global understanding, and will ensure his approach to problems continues to become more considered as his understanding of the wider global community grows.

Interview with Will Kelly, 20 April 2015.


Will Kelly Interior Design. Banda Aceh. Viewed 03 May 2015 <;

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