Huei-Han Yang

Urban Designer

Masters of Urban Design + Development // Bachelor of Architecture

What led you to become an urban designer?

I originally trained as an architect in Taiwan, but was frustrated by the limitations of focusing on a single building. I was interested in the broader city experiences and challenges of public transport, green infrastructure and community creation, so I moved into urban design. Working in urban design has also offered me the opportunity to travel around the world and experience new countries and cultures.

You have recently completed a Masters of Urban Design in Sydney - can you tell us about that experience?

The degree was studio-based with three teamwork studios, and one individual research project. In the team urban design studios, each group comprised members of different backgrounds including architects, landscape architects, planners and engineers to bring the broad suite of skills needed to resolve the urban challenge. We worked together to understand the urban morphology in an economic, political and social context, and develop specific urban design interventions and frameworks.

Our international studio was hosted by SASAKI in Boston. We investigated gentrification, resilience to climate change in waterfront settings and the needs of the container terminal expansion. The different social and economic setting gave us different insights into design thinking.

What are your first impressions of Melbourne?

I moved to the ‘most liveable city of the world’ but I didn’t know how cold it gets in the winter! I am struck by how so much of the city is planned in square grids, and the disproportionately high, coloured glass towers - quite different to the towers at home. My hometown of Taichung also follows a grid layout, where 100 x 100m blocks were built by the Japanese, and this gives a special history and context to the city.

It is exciting that the conditions for a ‘good city’ - walkability, permeability and vitality - that I studied in textbooks are so apparent in the city of Melbourne. I also love Melbourne’s coffee culture, which we don’t have in Taiwan. In Taiwan it is all about bubble tea, which is becoming more popular here.

When you get stuck at work, where do you look for inspiration?

Travelling to new cities and countries always gives me a fresh perspective and new ideas. I also love to swim, dive and cook – I am the master of the rice cooker!

Interviews: Mim McGarry