University of Newcastle Architecture graduate Matthew Kelly has been travelling through Hong Kong, Shenzhen, India, Istanbul, Lyon and London to investigate the impacts of urbanisation on living standards and residential architecture around the world.
Matthew received the Parker Fellowship Scholarship in 2012, which has enabled him to fulfil his architectural passion. The purpose of the scholarship, named in honour of Eric Parker – the first permanent teacher of architecture at the University of Newcastle, is to support an architecture student to undertake a program of travel that will be of benefit to them both personally and educationally.
Matthew’s original plan was to bring home ideas for a culturally sensitive, egalitarian and holistic architectural approach to managing increasing global population and decreasing global resources. The journey has far exceeded his expectations, and he admits that his “preconceived ideas have been blown out of the water”.
“My insights and observations in some of the world’s unique urban environments have affirmed that the value of architecture hinges on the inhabitants and their way of thinking, their collaboration in the design process and their active engagement post-construction with the sustaining of the building and community of users,” Matthew said.
Matthew had the privilege of observing two organisations – Chetanalaya in New Delhi and Seva Kendra in Kolkata, India. He hopes to assist in creating links between Newcastle and these organisations, which are enabling people, forming sustainable communities and safeguarding the environment.
“Like the majority of India, Kolkata is fraught with profound social issues, however there is a sense that an elastic band is being stretched, which at any moment will explosively contract, unleashing positive social, political and environmental change,” Matthew says.
“There are innumerable lessons to be learnt from the infinite experiences to be had there, from the death defying but highly efficient transportation network, to the malleability of the most minute spaces that accommodate the scope of daily life.”
On his return, Matthew hopes to connect himself with like-minded people to work with communities in Australia to develop a new way of existing, with a strong innovative community as the instrument to achieving environmental sustainability.
“We have the resources, we are a blessed country and people,” Matthew says. “We are not perfect, and have profound social and environmental problems of our own. Today is the perfect time to reassess the way we live, to be excited about the prospects of living in a different, more optimised and sustainable way.”
The Parker Fellowship is funded directly by donations made to the University of Newcastle by The Architecture Foundation.
Read more about Matthew’s experiences overseas and see images from his travels on his blog.