At Jensen PLUS we’ve always had a new Australian or two on staff, but recently our office has become even more of a global village. So what do our ‘’international’’ team of stars – Joshua Woo (Assistant Urban Designer), Brian Du (Landscape Architect), Natalia Gonzalez (Landscape Architect + Urban Designer), and not forgetting Jensen PLUS owner and director Michael McKeown – have to say about living and working in Australia?
Where did you live before Adelaide?
“Until recently, Sydney was the place I called home. I am originally from Singapore and so I actually don’t mind the sweltering summer we are having here in Adelaide.’’
‘’I came to settle in Adelaide in 2022. Before that, I worked as a landscape architect in Shanghai and Beijing, China.’’
‘’I am from the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I lived for a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and for four years in Brisbane before moving to Adelaide in 2020.’’
‘’I am from Glasgow, a city far from Adelaide in geography and history, in style and in weather. Glasgow has an edgy reputation internationally, but actually it’s fun and vibrant and full of life. Most visitors skip Scotland’s biggest city (and the locals barely care), but I say give it a go if you fancy the full cultural experience. It does rain a lot through. Before Adelaide I have also lived for a decade in Brisbane, another splendid city of discoveries around every twisting creeks and steep hill, and with a faster pace of change than Adelaide.’’
What were you doing before you moved to Jensen PLUS?
‘’I completed my Bachelor of City Planning (Hons) at the University of New South Wales and also worked for a leading architecture firm, as part of their urban design and planning team in the Sydney studio. I joined Jensen PLUS in January 2023.’’
‘’I did a Diploma of Landscape Design at TAFE Brisbane Queensland and an Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management at the Business Institute of Australia (BIA). I also worked part-time at AECOM Brisbane. Having multiple qualifications, I could transit over the different teams, working either for the architecture, landscape, or planning teams’’.
‘’I joined Jensen PLUS at the start of 2014. Just before that, when moving south with my family, we took a couple of weeks to get here, driving and camping along the east coast, before turning inland to the high-ish lands including Mt Kosciusko (later the scene for a memorable master planning project) and then following the mighty River Murray all the way to Adelaide. A memorable trip!’’
What experiences do you bring to working in Adelaide?
‘’I have experienced the rapid development of Chinese landscape architecture for fifteen years, which has enabled me to accumulate a lot of practical experience in projects. Participating in projects in different cities allows me to experience the cultures of different regions, and these experiences play a very important role in my design.
When I come to a new city, I experience the local life and record people’s living conditions with my camera. Design is a process of multi-party communication and implementation. Understanding the local culture allows me to find the entry point of each design more quickly.’’
‘’Before moving to Australia, I worked as a leader in designing and implementing the Rio 2016 Olympic Park Masterplan. For almost five years, I was engaged in the project from the master plan stage all the way through the delivery, including the supervising role on the construction of the park. Over this challenging experience, I had the opportunity to deal with several stakeholders while assisting the city of Rio council in coordinating the best design within the Games timeframe.’’
‘’Having lived and worked on projects in various cities around the world, I am able to appreciate the qualities that makes each place unique. I hope to bring this perspective into our projects here in Adelaide.’’
‘’In Queensland I did a mix of consulting, government and development work. In my first years in this country I learned a lot about urban design, development and planning in Australia, by visiting places and projects, looking hard, listening, and by experimenting.
As a new migrant you don’t have local knowledge, but new people always bring new experiences and new perspectives. And new ways of communicating too. I have often found teams and colleagues ready to try alternative solutions and that has been a great thing about working in Australia over the years.’’
What do you like about living and working in Australia?
”I enjoy the Australian laid-back, outdoorsy way of living with plenty of connection with nature. Most Australians are friendly and welcoming to immigrants. Adelaide, for instance, is a dynamic and diverse, socially progressive city. Additionally, I see a healthy work/life balance compared to my home country.
I love to work in Australia mainly because the landscape and urban design outcomes are seen as fundamental in city development strategies, thus, there are substantially more incentives and investments than in Brazil. Ultimately, it brings more opportunities and expands the range of work. I am also delighted to work in Adelaide because of the particularities of the Mediterranean climate and its well-marked seasons, which bring other opportunities for plant and tree species to work compared to my previous experience in subtropical cities.”
‘’If you ask me, What do you like about living and working in Australia? It must be a beautiful natural environment and diverse cultural background. No landscape architect can deny these two points. At the same time, Adelaide has a comfortable pace of life, excellent urban planning, and rich festivals. These are leaving a deep impression on me already.’’
”Australia is so vast and so there are always new places to learn about and explore, whether on holidays or through work.”
‘’What is there not to like? I find Australia to be full of great places to live and work. Personally I don’t buy into the city and state rivalry. There are so many good options to base yourself, and so many work opportunities, in our towns and cities and regional areas, and judging by the mobility of many Aussies, I think in practice many people out there agree.
Australian cities and towns really do offer a high quality of life compared to many other countries, including rich ones. There’s not that many safe, warm, green, outdoorsy, comfortable places to be. I do think we need to learn to love nature and address environmental impacts of our lifestyles more, but we shouldn’t underestimate the fantastic neighbourhoods, parks, streets, cities and towns we call home.’’