With a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies and over two years of work experience in architectural firms, international student Carrie Cheung, left her homeland of Hong Kong in December 2013 to pursue the Master of Interior Architecture program at UCLA Extension. “I believe studying abroad can widen my horizon,” Carrie stated in regards to her move to Los Angeles, “and bring me new inspiration and perspectives.”
While living in Hong Kong, Carrie worked on a number of upscale projects which included mix-use development in Mainland China, international competitions, theme park and casino development in Macau, and domestic projects in Hong Kong. “Having the opportunities to be part of those mega-scale projects and collaborating with the whole spectrum of expertise,” Carrie explained, “I found a need to further equip myself to the profession, with knowledge of the interior design discipline.”
Carrie has now completed the majority of classes in the Master’s program, including Studio III with Apurva Pande, the instructor who recognized her strong knack for design and nominated her for the Howard Hirsch scholarship. Carrie’s goal is to graduate by Summer 2015, after which she plans to apply the specialized skills and knowledge that she’ll gain from the Masters program to become a well-rounded architectural designer.
To find out what it takes to win the Howard Hirsch Design Scholarship, we interviewed Carrie about her project and also asked her some questions that prospective students would find valuable:
Please describe your project:
This is an adaptation project in a neo-classical building in Downtown LA. I preserved the arch windows, octagonal columns and the gold-leaf ceiling, and introduce a minimal, contemporary design to make a harmony. We were required to design a 3000 sq.ft. commercial space containing workspace and retail area, and, part of them can be converted to host Pop-up events. I challenge the limit of Pop-up, by creating a highly convertible shared workspace. It is an up-cycling furniture design studio at the daytime, and switches its function to design workshop and social forum after office hour. My design is established on the concept of folding tectonic. I include convertible furniture and sliding partition to meet the needs of different scenario.
First of all, I strategically included a transitional common zone between the retail (Public Area) and office (Private Area) during the space planning stage. The transitional zone refers to reception, conference room and café/rest area. Then, in response to the characteristic of the existing site, I developed a skewed grid as the principle in allocating my programs. The skewed grid gave me a lot more potential in developing interesting geometry when I was applying my design concept to create the central partition. The resulted sculptural central partition made a statement for my project.
How did you come up with the concept for your project?
As Pop-up space is one of the required programs in the project, I developed my concept, folding tectonic, basing on the pop-up paper art. I researched on some paper art forms and made a series of paper models to study the relationship between folding and volume growth, to seek a suitable form for my design. By combining the skewed grid which I developed in the early stage of my project, the pop-up paper models meet the spatial and functional needs, also with an elegant geometric shape.
How will the scholarship help you meet your career goals and aspirations?
I am very grateful for this scholarship, which allows me to spare some money from the tuition in the Master Program. However, spend them on some other meaningful ways of building my design capacity and getting inspirations, for instance, purchasing model making tools and materials; reference books; exhibition tickets and traveling.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer to prospective Master of Interior Architecture students?
Studios in the Master of Interior Architecture Program stress on striking a balance between creativity and practicality. Supported by other courses, such as the understanding of building code, ecology of design and project management, studios provide a dynamic testing ground for students to explore, establish and develop interior design ideas. It is intense, yet a very rewarding program, where I get inspired at every class, especially when I am collaborating with colleagues and instructors with diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The training in this program makes me confident in pursuing my dream to be a successful architectural designer in the future.
Images of Carrie Cheung’s project:
The Howard Hirsch Design Scholarship for Advanced Students a $3,000 tuition credit award that is granted once a year to Masters students who have completed all classes up to and including Interior Architecture Studio III. The award is based upon the work demonstrated in projects from Interior Architecture Studio III. To find out if you are eligible for this scholarship or others, please see the Arc+ID Scholarships and Financial Aid information page.
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