The first cohort of students from Griffith University’s Bachelor of Environmental Design (Architecture) is graduating.

Among them will be Gold Coast student, John Kurko, who will deliver the student address at the 3.00pm ceremony on Monday 10 December 2012 at theGoldCoast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“Because we are a smaller school at Griffith we were able to explore some things which architecture students elsewhere may not have had the freedom to pursue,” John said.

“In particular, we were able to focus on contextualising architecture to the conditions of South East Queensland, and we were also able to focus on sustainable design.”

It is his passion for sustainability which will fuel John’s further study as he joins Griffith’s first intake of Master of Architecture students in 2013. As part of his postgraduate research John will focus on indigenous architecture from the Gold Coast region.

“Aboriginal architecture was very varied and looking at historical accounts, early Europeans to the Gold Coast found Indigenous architectural designs here which had not been seen anywhere else,” John said.

“Aboriginal people living in the region today continue to uphold some of those traditional land use values, and if we think about sustainability there is a wealth of wisdom in that for us to draw upon.

“Landscape is architecture, and architecture is landscape; these fundamental traditional land use values can translate nicely into modern design practices.”

Once he has completed his Masters, John hopes to work for an architectural firm or small company and has a particular interest in public works and social housing as well as libraries and art galleries.

“I want to be able to contribute back to the community where possible,” John said.

John was a mature-aged student who was taking care of unfinished business when he returned to study architecture.

“When I was in school it had always been my ambition to be an architect, but somehow I ended up working as a manager in public health” John said.

“Eighteen years after I left school, I decided it was now or never”, he said.

There can be little doubt he has found his calling.

“The lovely thing about architecture is that even while you are still an undergraduate you can be rewarded for creating new ideas,” John said.

“In other disciplines, this usually happens only when you are a postgraduate research student.”

As John reflects on his academic journey with Griffith to date he acknowledges it’s not just the hard work of an individual student which matters.

“It strikes me that my own success, and that of my fellow graduates, has been made possible by something that has not been written into a curriculum, or placed in a course outline.

“That is the ability of the lecturers, your partner, parents, friends or maybe children, to see something within you that you can’t always see yourself.

“That is the belief that they have placed in us; that we harbour the potential, the new ideas that will make us a valuable contribution to our professions and to society as a whole.”