Budding architect building own way to success

A desire for hands-on experience sent student Jessica Gottlieb to Kathmandu to work on a humanitarian project repairing a hospice in a World Heritage-listed temple.

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Jessica Gottlieb

While many of her peers were relaxing in the university holidays, architecture student Jessica Gottlieb spent one month in Nepal, trekking the Annapurna Circuit, travelling to the ancient city of Bhaktapur and repairing a hospice in a World Heritage-listed Hindu temple complex in Kathmandu.  

Having recently completed undergraduate degrees in both architecture and interior architecture, Jessica used the summer break as an opportunity to work on a humanitarian project and gain valuable experience in the field, before starting her Master of Architecture in March.   

Organised by Aussie Action Abroad and Architects Without Frontiers, the program brought together 60 volunteers with local tradespeople and university students to work in communities repairing and maintaining vital facilities.

“It felt rewarding to know that we had accomplished something as a group for people who might not have otherwise received any assistance,” Jessica says.

“I wanted to go somewhere that would challenge me. Coming back to Australia after Nepal, you feel like you need to assist those less fortunate than yourself,” she says.

Since returning to Sydney, Jessica says the opportunities offered by UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment have stood her in good stead as she prepares to juggle her Masters and work at an architecture firm in the city.   

Last year, she chose to take a regional studio class taught by world-renowned architect Glenn Murcutt, which involved a site visit and design brief for a recreational facility in Dunn’s Swamp in the Wollemi National Park.

“It was fantastic to be able to sketch and survey the site under the guidance of someone like Glenn Murcutt. We had the option of choosing to undertake the urban or regional studio, which meant we could tailor our learning to suit our interests,” Jessica says.

“To have had such a direct experience with these different landscapes has truly been invaluable.”

Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment Professor Alec Tzannes says it is inspiring to see architecture students participating in projects that not only benefit their careers, but assist others as well.

“It's wonderful to see our students demonstrate exceptional capacity to make valued contributions across such a broad spectrum of architectural work, in this case a significant humanitarian project,” he said. 

Media contact: Cassie Chorn, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 8107, c.chorn@unsw.edu.au

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