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SANDitecture: where sand and assignment collide

News story

If you happened to pass by Alcoa Court two weeks ago you may have seen a hubbub of students braving the intermittent weather to carve sculptures out of sand.

A crowd of students at the SANDitecture event

While at first glance the overall 200 student-strong crowd appeared to be simulating a day at the beach, in reality they were partaking in the final phase of SANDitecture, a 12-day assignment run by the School of Built Environment.


Led by WA artist and sand sculptor, Tim Darby, architecture and interior architecture students formed 5 man teams to build a sand sculpture inspired by a famous building.


Students carving a sand sculpture of the Sydney Opera House

An abstraction of Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House and winner of the ‘Most Beautiful’ SANDitecture judging category.

In the lead-up to the final sculpting phase, teams were given 10 days to research the key design features of their famous building and investigate elements such as form, mass, volume, texture, pattern, repetition, scale, balance and hierarchy.

The students were also taught a range of sculpting and preparation techniques from Tim Darby, such as pounding up the sand for maximum stability and packing it into crates to create a fresh block to carve from.

A single student carving a sand sculpture

The result? A plethora of sand sculptures ready for judging on the grounds of Alcoa.

“This exercise combined great team building skills, essential in any workplace, with the very basics of research, interpretative thinking and conceptualising designs in 3D,” said Ann Calic, the first year coordinator for interior architecture.

Students crafting their sand sculptures

“The atmosphere was dynamic with all the students energised by working outdoors and in teams on something totally different. It was a great way to break down barriers about learning and getting to know each other early in the year.”


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