Meet the Reps

The Student Organised Network for Architecture (SONA) is the official student body of the Australian Institute of Architects. We represent architecture students from across Australia, organising national, state and local events that provide opportunities for students to collaborate with each other as well as architects and associated professionals.

SONA members take part in the annual Australian Institute of Architects architecture conference, the biannual student congress, local mentoring and social events, design competitions, professional committees, and receive and contribute to nationally-recognised architecture publications.

The SONA team  is comprised of an executive committee of 5 student members and 19 student SONA Representatives from accredited universities (or those on the path way to becoming accredited) across Australia. It is this group of dedicated students that volunteers their time and energy to make positive things happen with SONA!

The SONA team would encourage you to get in touch with your university SONA rep to find out more about local happenings!

Your SONA National Committee


Gina Engelhardt

Immediate Past President

Troy Borg

President Elect 

Jacques Chevrant-Breton

Vice President – Competitions & Events

Leanne Haidar

Vice President – Member Engagement

Amarinda Bazeley


Your SONA State Representatives

Australian Capital Territory

University of Canberra

Courtney Thoo

New South Wales

University of Sydney

Jodie Chieu

University of New South Wales

Celine Ti

University of  Technology Sydney

Jack Thomas Osborn

Newcastle University

Sahibajot Kaur (outgoing 2019)

Northern Territory

Charles Darwin University

Pio Gillamac


Bond University

Nicole Mesquita-Mendes 

Griffith University Gold Coast

Asfand Tarar

Queensland University of Technology

Richelle Lim

University of Queensland

Kieren Dolores

South Australia

Adelaide University

Geoffrey William Baddams

University of South Australia

James Guy


University of Tasmania

Chris Morrison


University of Melbourne

Saran Kim

Deakin University

Julie Pham

Monash University

Daniel Soetjahjono

RMIT University

Christopher Filippidis

Western Australia

University of Western Australia

Kathryn Neale

Curtin University

Julian Kissling


National Staff (Melbourne)
Bianca Haas (National Membership Engagement Officer)  sona@architecture.com.au

 “Photography by Aaron Puls, SJB Architects”

SuperStudio Update 2018 – Western Australia Reps

By Ricardo Muller

The WA SuperStudio 2018 was held at the University of Western Australia School of Design on the 22nd and 23rd of September. Seven teams were involved in the competition with students from every year of study.

The first day of the competition was devoted mostly to brainstorming and discussion around the topic of “Breathing Spaces,” with a reading of the brief and Luiz Barragan’s speech. Kate Hislop (Dean/Head of UWA School of Design) opened the competition by raising some points around the wellbeing of architecture students. Her remarks included how breathing spaces are crucial to our health, and that having the ability to pause and reflect during the architecture student’s frenetic lifestyle is invaluable. She also encouraged students to think about when to stop working in order to rest up and refresh, a shift from busyness to idleness, to “the calm before the storm.” Among the groups, students then proceeded to share personal experiences of hardships from the relentless and exhausting quotidian that architecture can pose, as well as how they would manage the stress arising from these living conditions. It became an exercise of identifying the sources which create and feed this cycle of being perpetually busy at the expense of health, whether it is the workload, the school’s high expectations, a desire to do the best they can, comparing their work to others, etc. Besides having various sources from which this issue arises, soon it became apparent that there were also various solutions. Students revealed they had different ways of breaking out of this cycle to breathe and destress, such as exercising, playing games, going for a walk or exploring uncharted destinations. These were activities and places which occupy the mind with thoughts disconnected from the work, allowing them to breathe, fostering observation and interaction, stimulating the senses, and sparking new ideas in the midst of a busy working period. This was ultimately a day of contemplation and realization, becoming conscious of why we may act and feel the way we do as students, a foundation to begin work production the following day.

The second and final day comprised primarily of producing the work and content for presentations. Some ideas pitched by the students involved a meditative garden with a Swan inspired sculpture at its centre which spouts water from above, a symbol inspired from the University’s emblem and the proximity to the Swan river, a shrouded and serene experience. A similar idea was explored by a group who projected a gathering space for reflection and discussion, a concept which encourages students of various disciplines to meet and share their situation with others, understanding they are not alone when times are tough, and that there is more to life than architecture. Another proposal revolved around an organic folding sculpture which manoeuvres around a series of site elements and begins enveloping the user in a graceful and relaxed manner, creating diverse pockets of contemplation that are protective yet connecting to nature, where students can find comfort and leisure throughout their day. One of the teams proposed a playground-like intervention, involving open, dynamic and energetic spaces between existing buildings to introduce an aspect of fun that contrasts with the rigorous and confined classroom and computer lab environment. The idea of using recurring elements of varying qualities to constitute an experience was present across two of the teams involved. The first team’s presentation was around overlapping circles in plan, where each zone created within denotes gradations of transparency, resulting in spaces of divergent exposure to the public, nature, and the intensity of lighting, thus enabling students to select spaces which cater to their preference of a “breathing space.” The second team’s concept of expressive cubes, each providing a unique sensory experience, which can be combined and arranged as desired to create place specific installations within the ALVA campus. The teams’ responses were compelling and their stories relatable. The student perspective on the issue as well as how it could be addressed architecturally was made evident from the diverse proposals communicated in this two-day National architecture competition.


By Samantha Dye


Congratulations to Isaac McCormack, Sara Muna’am and Jin Zhang on winning this year’s WA SONA SuperStudio on the theme ‘Breathing Space’. It was a great effort and a very entertaining presentation to the jury. Well done also to the other students who participated in the competition held over the 2 days. SONA Western Australia hopes everyone has gained some valuable experiences and inspirations over the SuperStudio weekend!

SONA Western Australia likes to thank the Australian Institute of Architects, especially the WA Chapter, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and SuperStudio Creative Directors Thom McKenzie and Naomi Stead, the SONA team and all the WA SuperStudio participants! Thank you to our mentors, guest speakers, and jury members for their valued time and support SuperStudio 2018. Without the support of the local architecture industry and community, Western Australian SuperStudio would not have been possible!


-Maria Gillman, Director of Bos architects

-Amanda Hendry, EmAGN WA Chair

-Suzie Hunt, Principal Architect of Suzanne Hunt Architect,

-Jurg Hunziker, Director of TAG Architects

-Adrian Iredale, Director of iredale pedersen hook architects

-Beatriz Perez, Senior Architect at sphstudio

-Kelly Rattigan, Senior Architect at sphstudio

-Michael Woodhams, Executive Director WA Chapter

Guest Speakers:

-Dr Kate Hislop, Dean/Head of UWA School of Design

-Suzie Hunt, Principal Architect of Suzanne Hunt Architect, and President WA Chapter


-Dr Kate Hislop, Dean/Head of UWA School of Design

-Neil Cownie, Director of Neil Cownie Architect

-Katherine Ashe, Director of vittinoahse, and Lecturer at Curtin University School of Design and the Built Environment

SONA Western Australia also want to thank Tyran Hanlon, Julia Xu, Yeong Wong, and Felicia Fatu for their much appreciated assistance during the SuperStudio weekend.

From the SONA President


One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”*


For those of us called to serve ‘The Starfish Story’ is the call to duty, knowing that each life you touch matters, even if it is only one. Through a national theme which nurtured specific themed events, this year we have tried to reach you at your corner of your University, at that odd hour of the day, when you had a bad week and those emotions won’t go away.

We want to remind you now and always that just because you’re an architectural student doesn’t mean you aren’t human and we want to remind you that you matter, your part of a bigger network, a leading professional organisation that is striving to make the world a better place trough architecture.

When you have those doubts or fears try and remember this quote, to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

As the year draws closer to the end, take a moment to reflect on all that you have accomplished, write down the things you want to try differently next time and I encourage those of you who have never thought about becoming a leader to put your hand up, to join the Sona committee at your university in 2019, if you are feeling brave why not walk through the doorways presenting themselves to you and apply to be a SONA Representative in 2019. Don’t do it because it looks good on your resume, it’s hard work juggling all of these responsibilities and studying. It’s hard work when you are driven by passion. What’s rewarding, is the joy you receive when someone messages you to tell you that they’ve discovered new confidence within themselves, confidence in public speaking.

SONA gave them this opportunity and to see this change first hand in one students life, is beyond rewarding.

Make 2019 your year to give back to the wider community, your year to be more.



* The Starfish Story by Loren Eisley


SONA Victoria Representative Update

By Leanne Haidar

SuperStudio -Monash University 

On the 22nd and 2rd of September 2018, a total of 61 students and 20 professionals took part in SuperStudio hosted and sponsored by Naomi Stead and Monash University. The national design competition had students in groups of three working on the national brief ‘Breathing Space’ for a total of two days.

The brief was centred on the SONA theme for 2018; Mental Health and was read by SONA National President; Troy Borg. To ensure this theme was fostered throughout the entire weekend, students were provided with plenty of food, drink and sunlight (see photo below)! Phones were completely turned off for the first two hours and the use of the internet was discouraged to ensure that students were able to focus fully and genuinely on the brief and in their spaces with their teams and mentors. Students were also limited to working 9-5pm both days and were encouraged not to work afterhours on the Saturday. Considering all of these constraints, the presentations were a huge success, with a great variety of projects presented, displaying diversity in thought and meaningful discourses on architecture, space and mental health.


Ask an Architect

Only one week later, we hosted portfolio night #2 for 2018. Bachelor’s students were invited to the SJB offices, whilst master’s students were invited to the HASSELL offices. A total of 40-50 students attended, with an equal number of professionals volunteering their time. Each student had 4 rounds of 15 minute conversations with architects about their portfolio and resumes.

At all three of these events, our mission was to thoroughly encourage a culture of camaraderie among students, professionals and academics. Networks were created and solidified across all three events and we saw more and more students coming back for more! We hope that these relationships and networks maintain their rhythm as we plan for an end of year celebration! Watch this space.


Thank you to all of our sponsors for these events; Monash University, RMIT, Deakin, UniMelb, Hassell, Robin Boyd Foundation, SJB, DKO Architects, Kosloff Architecture, Bates Smart and Brickworks.

Caleb Lee

Any extra-curricular activities or hobbies?
Aikido, Harp, Jazz

If you couldn’t live without one thing what would it be?

Everyone has a good app idea. What’s yours?
One that blocks data – Enjoy your time with friends when you’re out!

What is the most played song/TV show/movie/album and why?
Album: Bill Evans Trio, Jazz sounds different every time

Do you take part in any activities outside of the Industry? E.g. Tutoring, teaching, mentoring, volunteering etc.
I volunteer for Spur Afrika, a non-for profit organization which supports children living in poverty in Afrika. I’m in a quartet and we play at events. Cello.

Favorite place or building in the world?
The Toilet or shower, it’s where all my ideas come from

What’s your dream job?
Research of space – to pursue a space which enhances an action or process of something. Space that brings understanding and changes human emotion.

What do you want to achieve in Architecture?
Something original

What do you love most about your city?
How diverse in form and ideas we have

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you move?

Western Australia – ArchiMates


ArchiMates was an informal gathering over chips and drinks, where students had the opportunity to learn more about the architecture profession from:

  • Michael Woodhams – Executive Director of the WA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects
  • Suzie Hunt – President of the WA Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects and Director of Suzanne Hunt Architect
  • Neil Cownie – Director of Neil Cownie Architects and member of the Architects Board of WA.

The students enjoyed hearing and asking questions about our guests’ experiences and insights from their studies to their careers. We were fortunate to receive helpful advice to guide us for the duration of our studies and continued career. Advice ranged from getting out into the world more through travelling studio or personal travel – whether it’s abroad or within Australia – to gain exposure and experience with different environments and cultures; to asking practices if they would be able to take you for site visits to gain experience. Getting your LinkedIn profile going, and your business card ready for networking.

Michael, Suzie, and Neil not only provided insights and advice for the students, but also gave encouragement by continuing being actively connected to the profession through SONA, which gives fellow students and professionals opportunities to network with from the industry. 

SONA UWA would like to thank Michael, Suzie, and Neil for their generous time spent at the event.

South Australia – Mates & Dates


It was a fantastic opportunity to welcome new members and provide understanding of what the 2018 SONA calendar holds. Students gained real insight as three of the South Australian Chapter Members came along; Mario Dreosti, Nicolette De Lernia and Zafiro Papanikitas.

This was very valuable as students got to know professionals in a relaxed, non- intimidating setting. Overall around 20 members came along for the evening and it was a huge success especially when the next event was announced.

We look forward to what SONA will bring to its members in 2018.

SONA President – Troy Borg


Ask yourself what has been working well for you? 

  • Have you been staying on top of your assignments, maintaining healthy relationships and keeping up with paying your bills by the due date?
  • Have you attended any of the first SONA events in your state?
  • How many people have answered yes I’m on top of everything and super organised?

For most of us that is only but a dream, architecture studies aren’t supposed to consume your entire being, so now as we start refining our routines for the second quarter, I ask you to evaluate where you allocate your time?

Have you been utilising all the benefits that come with being a member of SONA?

  • SONA provides a network that can lead you to your first work experience placement, open up opportunities for you to be involved at many architecture events, it can see you connect with industry which could lead to your first job.

We want you to get the most out of being a member of an organisation that for the past twenty years has voiced our concerns as a collective student body and provided endless opportunities.

If you’re still unsure as to what’s happening in your hood, keep your eyes peeled on the SONA website and be sure to follow the Sona Instagram for your state.

We have some exciting events just around the corner including the Upscale design and build workshop taking place at the National Conference and the SuperStudio competition where you and 2 other SONA members can win tickets and flights to the Venice Biennale.

Don’t forget that these events are all exclusive for you. Good luck with your studies in the coming weeks and honour your mind and body with regular exercise.

Look forward to seeing you at a SONA event soon.