Saving the world - by design

Sacha Coles is director of ASPECT Studios, and adjunct Professor at Sydney’s University of Technology Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. ASPECT Studio is an award-winning practice, widely regarded as one of Australia’s pre-eminent landscape architecture and urban design practices. Sacha, who’s enthusiastic about exchanging ideas within the profession, will be speaking at this year's NZILA Firth conference - there he'll be talking about places and spaces.

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LAA: You say design thinking can save the world - how?

SC:  Design thinking opens you up to exploring what you don’t know. Design thinking can save the world because it is an optimistic, iterative and participatory process which encourages discussion and input by others. In its best form, design thinking will enable previously unforeseen creative outcomes to be realised. The way I employ it is to get dirty with images, sketches and models to explore new territory and innovate in a human centred way with end users at the forefront.

As designers, we’re not going to save the planet by doing the same thing that we did yesterday. Design thinking allows us to reveal exploratory, delightful, effective and more relevant outcomes for the world. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

LAA: What is the future for landscape architects in shaping our cities?

SC: Cities are systems with complex layers operating at scale in real time. Landscape architects get systems thinking. We are trained to think, to understand, reveal and amplify the environmental, social, urban, and living systems through our design practice. We are empowered to think beyond the individual form of a building, or the desires of a single person and focus on big systems moves, and societal gain - all of which come together in the public realm of the city.

LAA: What will be your key message at the conference?

SC: Expanding on the points above through the lens of contemporary design projects.

 The Goods Line in Sydney which ASPECT studio was lead design on. Photo credit: Florian Groehn.

The Goods Line in Sydney which ASPECT studio was lead design on. Photo credit: Florian Groehn.