The UNSW has introduced a new Master of Architecture degree program that will focus on architecture for the disadvantaged and displaced while tackling some of modern society’s major challenges.

The degree will offer four significant directions including humanitarian architecture, housing, urban conditions, and high performance architecture, which focuses on sustainability and technology and will link up with the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living based at UNSW.

International disaster risk reduction expert Professor David Sanderson, also the inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture, will head the humanitarian architecture stream. The Chair was established earlier this year with a $10 million endowment from philanthropist and White Rabbit Gallery founder Judith Neilson, with an aim to lead research and education in architecture for disadvantaged and displaced people globally.

UNSW Dean of Built Environment, Professor Alec Tzannes AM, described the new Masters program as ‘architecture with substance, addressing the big issues facing the world’.

Observing that great architecture and design are always seen from an aesthetics perspective, Tzannes says great architects are usually feted for expensive, visually stunning landmarks that transform skylines, not lives.

The humanitarian architecture stream will equip graduates with the skills to design affordable and sustainable housing for communities displaced by natural disasters, conflict or economic hardship. Blending creativity with technical knowledge, they will deliver architecture that addresses a more sustainable, liveable and equitable urban future.

The new Anita Lawrence Chair in High Performance Architecture, Professor Mattheos Santamoulis will bring his international expertise in sustainability, technology and low energy building materials to the high performance architecture stream.

The UNSW Architecture team will also include some of Australia’s leading architectural thinkers including Seidler Chair in the Practice of Architecture and Pritzker Prize Laureate Glenn Murcutt as well as award-winning UNSW alumni and Professors of Practice Ken Maher and Richard Johnson.

The faculty’s dual undergraduate degree with Shanghai’s Tongji University offers Bachelor in Architectural Studies students a testamur from each institution, opening up greater opportunities for a career in China or Australia.

Director of Architecture, Professor Xing Ruan said UNSW’s architectural education has always had a distinctive character, adding that the new Master of Architecture promises to be one of the most engaging and inspiring programs for future leaders of the profession.