Students design humanitarian architectural solutions: Miah Thorpe

Bachelor of Architectural Design students are designing housing solutions for neurodiversity, cultural and social differences.

3d digital image of a house with big windows a tree and blue sky with clouds

The last decade has seen the School of Architecture and Built Environment running a Humanitarian Architecture Travelling Studio (HATS) - where students design humanitarian solutions and travel internationally to engage in a cross-cultural and humanitarian design experience.

2020’s challenges saw the program working with local South Australian partners instead, with students designing for youth at risk of homelessness, focussing on creating housing that responds to the needs of different sub-cultures or neurodiversity.

Today’s feature, Bachelor of Architectural Design student Miah Thorpe, said that her concept design is called ‘Mocean Home’ because it connects residents of a very special demographic to the ocean.

"As a place of mindfulness and tranquility, the Moana coastline of Mocean Home's locality delineates an intersection between home and healing for residents with backgrounds of displacement and or homelessness. The intent of connection with one's pathway and empowerment to direct that pathway was the driving ideation during the conceptualisation of Mocean Home. This proposal seeks to nurture a symbiosis between residents and the everlasting drive of the sea," Miah said.

Take a look at her poster  and concept design below.

About Miah

black and white photo of student miah thorpe

To get to know the student behind the design, we asked Miah a few more questions to learn more.

Why did you choose your degree?

Pursuing architecture came as a natural pathway as a field that nurtures human interaction with the environment we inhabit. I have always sought creative control, and always lent towards roles that require empathy, problem solving and expression. For me, architecture is a medium that allows us to act as a director between the necessities and possibilities that arise in the reality of different social fabrics. 

Why did you choose to study at the University of Adelaide?

I chose to study at the University of Adelaide as the institute has a prevailing reputation for a great culture, inclusive community, and promising employment prospects post-graduation. The commute to the university is simple, and the North Terrace campus is central to all necessary services and places that I assumed that I would develop connections to/with.

What was your favourite/most important learning or experience from taking part in the HATS design studio?

Our Humanitarian Design Studio emphasised real-world problems associated with class disadvantage, cultural hegemony, and the responsibility that the built environment has regarding solving displacement, homelessness and hostile architecture, proving to be a highly complex topic that through biased, naive eyes, can easily be simplified or overlooked. 

I most enjoyed listening and learning from our guest speakers from a plethora of fields and professions, as their backgrounds gave colour and perspective in to the complex subject of our course. I most enjoyed this aspect because we were better able to nurture empathy and understanding to better undertake our projects.

What are your future career goals once you are qualified?

I am passionate about the Australian landscape and the effect that urban sprawl has had on our ecosystem, and our health. I seek to join an architectural firm that has values that align with my own. I would especially like to work in domestic architecture to design sustainable, quality homes that improve the life quality of residents, and promotes a regenerative footprint.

What are your top tips for someone who is considering studying a Bachelor of Architectural Design?

For anyone considering studying a Bachelor of Architectural Design, do not play to the gallery. Creators produce their worst work when constrained by the expectations and values of others. Build relationships, strengthen your sense of self, and know your values so that your work reflects you.

Thank you to Miah for her insightful answers to our questions and to Dr Amit Srivastava and Associate Professor Peter Scriver, HATS course coordinators.

Tagged in Women in STEM, architecture