When I was a university student in Thailand, my lecturer at the Architectural School always used Australian cities as our case study. Being a new country with one of the most advanced planning systems in the modern world, I was intrigued by the idea of seeing the ‘real’ Australia.
My dream came true when my application to extend my degree was accepted by the School of Architecture at Melbourne University. I decided to stay on working as an apprentice with numerous design studios in Melbourne after my study. Then one day, an opportunity came knocking on my door. I was offered to work for a renowned Australian golf course architect who was designing golf courses and planning golf estates worldwide. One of the countries we were working in at that time was Thailand. After practising for so many years in Melbourne, it was now my chance to work ‘overseas’ too. It was on this occasion that I had to use two languages, English and Thai, simultaneously in being an interpreter for my Australian colleagues and the Thai clients. My responsibility was to document the golf course and landscape master plans in Thai for the companies, acting as a melting pot for their communication hub. All aspects of design and construction know-how and my boss’ years of golf course design experience had to be conducted in both languages. The information must be translated and then filtered through to all relevant members of the working team. I found it challenging to work in my profession and fell back on my long-buried translation talent which I took for granted.
After the Asian golf course construction boom subsided, I was back to my drawing board in Melbourne. Working day in and out in my design and planning realm, I started to miss using my translation savvy. I decided to further sharpen my skills by attending language courses to improve and formalise my certification, enabling me to express myself and communicate professionally. NAATI was my vehicle to fulfil that commitment. I pursued more translation work and happily put in extra hours after my day job as a landscape architect to keep my interest going. It was during this time that I discovered that more Thais were living in Melbourne as well. I started to go out into the community and I saw even more opportunities to help my fellow country people who also migrated to Australia for various reasons.
It was evident during the pandemic in 2020 that I was busier being a translator rather than a designer, helping various public and private organisations in disseminating of information to the community. Due to the novel Coronavirus, there were numerous uncertainties new to everyone. We seemed to always be one step slower than the transmission speed of information. I believe it was also because many translators were working hard at the same time. We did not even have time to adjust and sort out our vocabulary and terminology. Various inconsistently translated media was published and caused much confusion in the communities. The consequence of that lesson impacted the disease control in some states. Fortunately, we could turn that around and improve the situation, making things into an acceptable ‘COVID-normal’ nowadays.
I have learnt from working as an urban designer that information dissemination to the community is an important aspect in both design and communication. Whether we are introducing a new space to the community, be it a market or a park, we must be very vigilant, careful, and smart with our message communication. The principles are the same between design and translation – we must aim for a clear directive with the least ambiguity to bring our audience along with us as much as possible. I now call Australia home and am grateful that I live in the city of my younger years’ fascination. I can do what I always love most – design and translation.
Thad Patradoon is a NAATI certified translator and also a registered Landscape Architect and urban designer with AILA. He graduated from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and has a Master’s degree from Melbourne University. Apart from design and language, he is passionate about cooking and travelling. Mr Patradoon has been to Thailand and Japan 19 times each in the last ten years where he documented his trips in photographs and sketchbooks. He is currently studying Chinese and Japanese, hoping to be fluent in those languages one day.