Category: SONA Post

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!

The SONA University Representatives:


Gina Engelhardt

Immediate Past President

Troy Borg

President Elect 

Jacques Chevrant-Breton

Vice President – Competitions & Events

Leanne Haider 

Vice President – Member Engagement

Amarinda Bazeley

State Representatives

Australian Capital Territory

University of Canberra

Courtney Thoo

New South Wales

University of Sydney
Jodie Chieu –

University of New South Wales
Tonia Yau (outgoing 2019) –

University of  Sydney Technology
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
Kieran Dolores –

South Australia

Adelaide University
Geoffrey William Baddams –

University of South Australia
James Guy –


University of Tasmania
Chris Morrison –


University of Melbourne
Saran Lim –

Deakin University

Jacquelyn Mangubat (outgoing 2019)

Monash University
Daniel Soetjahjono –

RMIT University
Christopher Filippidis  –

Western Australia

University of Western Australia
Kathryn Neale –     

Curtin University
Julian Kissling –

National Staff (Melbourne Victoria)

Bianca Haas (National Membership Engagement Officer)


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.


It’s that time of year again… Superstudio!
All the cogs are in motion to bring you the biggest event on the SONA Calendar. Superstudio is a 24 hours ‘ideas’ design competition that runs simultaneously in every state and territory in Australia. Students will compete in groups of 3 in response to a brief that is kept confidential until 7pm AEST on Friday 2 August, around the country.

In the past the creative director has been an elected student, last year we decided to change things up a little and invited ARM to curate the brief. This year we have 4 Creative Directors who come from architecture, design, and art based professions who are all of indigenous descent.

Why would you want to compete? Well, the prize for the national winners is flights and entry to the Venice Biennale courtesy of BlueScope Steel as well as a nice bit of media coverage – just google last years winners!

What skills do you need? The ability to conceptualise! As I said before Superstudio is an ideas competition so it is your idea that matters not how well you know CAD or Photoshop! This makes the competition accessible to everyone at every year level! Superstudio is about creating studio culture.

We encourage you to consider forming a group with colleagues from different uni’s and year levels as no single Uni or year level has any advantage or disadvantage! Also it is fun! If you want to keep up to date with the event information as it is released be sure to join the Facebook event.

I hope to see you at SuperStudio! – Register Now

Sarah Lynn Rees
Vice President Competitions

Agony Architects

A new series of short and sweet episodes available online to members. Agony Architects – where some of Australia’s wisest and most amusing architects answer the tricky questions. We hope their words of wisdom will answer some of the questions university cant, helping you learn what is really involved in getting a job in architecture, from what you put in your folio, to how you make your application stand out, from the low of rejection, to the high of acceptance and then what it takes to get the job done.

Agony Architects charts the do’s and don’ts of preparing job applications, creating a folio, the no positions vacant emails, the interview emails and those first days in the office on the job. Agony Architects provides the inside word on what it takes to make it ‘in the real world’ of architecture.

Episode 1 – Preparation
Episode 2 – The Folio
Episdoe 3 – The Interview
Episdoe 4 – Acceptance/Rejection
Episode 5 – The Job

Access to the Agony Architect series requires your individual Institute membership number and password. If you are yet to renew your SONA membership you can do so now by clicking here. If you have any questions or need assistance please contact the membership team

Here is a little promo video we put together so you can check out Agony Architects.

Welcome to the Australian student architecture community

Hi there and welcome back to the uni semester!

My name is Danny Brookes and I’ll be representing you as SONA president this year. It’s a privilege to be involved in this student organisation and I hope you too see benefit in the many local and nationwide events that we organise.

We have new SONA reps at each of our universities this year. They have plenty of energy and will be organising some great initiatives – so make sure you get involved. I’d also like to say a big welcome to our new National Manager Georgie Greenland, she’ll be keeping us organised and on-budget throughout the year!

If you have any great ideas for SONA this year I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time!

representatives from across Australia to attend a training workshop in Melbourne. Our reps learnt about the range of SONA initiatives we’ll be introducing in 2012, and we also planned a calendar of events.