Synthesis through design thinking

A collaborative model, a visual representation of the problem which actually brings together different disciplines and brings together different perspectives.

Shane:

So, our guest tonight is Ray Maher and he’s from the University of Queensland with the School of Earth and Environmental Science, and the Global Change Institute and its space in Australia. He is a Masters in Architecture and a Bachelor of Design. So Ray is a researcher in sustainability strategies, a building designer, a teacher of sustainable design and an active member of various NGOs and research groups. And he’s undertaking his PhD at the University of Queensland on Integrated Sustainability Strategies, which seeks to synthesise the complex and interdependent fields of sustainability and present them simply via visuals.

 

 

The reason why he’s here in Otago is because Sam is one of his supervisors. He has recently begun Project Habitation with his wife and Ray’s main expertise is in drawing together the many diverse aspects of sustainability and synthesising them into mutually supportive design responses. Welcome to our show, Ray. How’s it going?

 

Ray:

Good, good.

 

Shane:

Were you born in Australia?

 

Ray:

I was. I was born in far north Queensland, actually, so up in the jungle and beaches north of Cairns.

 

Shane:

Oh, lovely. And what was it like growing up in that environment?

 

Ray:

I don’t remember it well. I left pretty young. It was a beautiful place, though. And from there, after my sister came along, we travelled south and my parents found a new home in Northern Rivers, New South Wales, which is sort of another very beautiful place of subtropical forest and a pretty lovely place to grow up, actually.

 

Shane:

What was it like growing up in Australia as a kid? Did you wander around the forests every night or chasing koalas or-

 

Ray:

I suppose I spent a lot of time outside in the bush and every weekend we would be either going camping or going to local national parks, or going to the beach nearby. So it’s pretty glorious, and just one of those things you take for granted, I suppose. Also, dad’s a builder so he built us a beautiful house and we got a block of land there. Five acres, two and a half hectares, and mum started regenerating the forest that used to be there. So I’ve got to see that kind of grow and develop over time. And it’s, yeah, a pretty wonderful spot, actually.

 

Shane:

I was going to ask you what got you involved in design and sustainability, but I’m beginning to think that was your parents that inspired that? Or was it something you watched and …

 

Ray:

Well, I began with design and architecture so when I finished high school, moved to Brisbane to go to the University of Queensland and study architecture there. And that was a real shift, I suppose, in the way that I thought. Design brings with it a pretty incredible way of thinking, way of seeing the world, I suppose. You learn to see things not just as they are but how they could be. And that becomes really the focus of how I perceive things.

 

 

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