Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

07 May 2019

The UQ Architecture group at Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak

Government funding that supports global experiences for emerging Australian leaders has enabled 23 UQ students to travel to Hong Kong and China in 2018 and 2019.

The Endeavour Leadership Program (ELP) provided more than $70,000 in grants to students from chemical engineering and architecture cohorts to travel abroad and connect with international networks, while experiencing their chosen fields of study from a completely new perspective.

Head of the UQ School of Architecture Professor Cameron Bruhn and lecturer Dr Silvia Micheli accompanied 13 undergraduate students to Hong Kong and China in a nine-day field trip in January 2019.

The group explored the urban developments of Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, learning about the individual character of each city as well as the strategic roles each has played in the construction of the Pearl River Delta megacity.

Dr Micheli said the goal of the field trip was to investigate the tensions that Asian global cities, such as Hong Kong, are experiencing in balancing their global and local identities at an urban scale.

“Shenzhen is a city that is developing incredibly fast, using technology to shape its urban growth, and the impact on the build environment is impressive,” Dr Micheli said.

“We also crossed the new Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, a majestic piece of regional infrastructure with enormous political and economic implications in the Pearl River Delta.

“During the trip we introduced the students to international architectural firms based in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, allowing them to see how they operate, understand the design challenges they face and discover the kinds of professional skills that are needed to become a successful architect in Asia.

“Students started networking and got a real sense of the exciting career opportunities ahead.

“In order to comprehend how Asian global cities are changing, one needs to visit them physically, walk through them to get the sense of their scale and visit their new buildings to learn from their innovations.”

“This endeavour grant has been a great way for students to dive into new urban dimensions and, at the same time, start building their professional path.”

Architecture student Sean Dervan said the trip was an inspiring and enriching experience.

“Seeing the sheer scale and pace of urbanisation taking place in China first-hand was mind-blowing,” he said.

“The Pearl River Delta is fast becoming the world’s largest megacity, with a mega-scale approach to architecture and infrastructure to match.

“There is a new typology of architecture evolving from balancing the tensions between dense urbanisation and the human scale which was fascinating to witness.”

Mr Dervan said the visits to global architecture firms where students were given the opportunity to discuss and learn from their approach to projects in the region was very inspiring.

“I feel that I have been given a valuable and unique opportunity to grow my professional and academic skills in an extremely progressive architectural field, with many exciting future possibilities,” he said.

Professor Peta Ashworth, Chair in Sustainable Energy Futures and Coordinator of the Master of Sustainable Energy program, travelled with 10 postgraduate students to China through 2018 and 2019.

Master of Sustainable Energy student Ben Clarke said the study tour he completed in January this year was “one seriously eye-opening experience.”

“We met with people developing the next generation of renewable energy technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and ocean energy,” Mr Clarke said.

“We met with people on the forefront of technical feasibility projects in carbon capture utilisation and storage.

“We met the people operating the cutting-edge high-efficiency, low-emissions coal-fired power plants, and we met people modelling and forecasting the future of energy for China and the world.

“We also met the people trying to bridge the gap between technology and society to bring about more holistic changes that provide true benefits to society.

“The entire experience was truly enriching in an academic and professional sense but it also provided some amazing personal experiences as well.”

Mr Clarke said the trip was a fantastic opportunity and he would urge any future students to take part.

The School of Chemical Engineering has received a grant to take another 10 students abroad. More information about this opportunity will be made available soon.