Student Prize
for the Advancement
of Architecture

Highgate Primary School New Teaching Building | iredale pedersen hook architects | Photographer: Peter Bennetts

About the Prize

student prize for the advancement of architecture

This prize is for a most outstanding contribution by an individual SONA member towards the advancement of architecture in the areas of leadership, publication, community or education. The aim of the prize is to recognise those whom:

  • provide leadership amongst fellow students and/or within the profession
  • promote the appreciation and advancement of architecture
  • provide a forum for discourse and networking
  • promote architects in the community
  • advance the education of Australian architecture students

Entrants can be individual or collaborations.

The Prize is a cash prize of $2,000 to the winner.

Entries closed Friday 15 September 2023.

find out more

Maitland Riverlink | CHROFI with McGregor Coxall | NSW | Photographer: Simon Wood

Financial student/SONA members who have advanced architecture in the previus two years may be nominated or self nominate

Denton Corker Marshall Studio | Denton Corker Marshall | Vic | Photographer: Shannon McGrath

The nominee should demonstrate high achievement in one or preferably more selected categories.

King Bill | Austin Maynard Architects | Photographer: Derek Swalwell

The nominee should demonstrate high achievement in one or more of the identified areas.

2023 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture | Blake Hillebrand
2022 Student Advancement of Architecture Prize Joint Winner | Thomas Huntingford | Photographer: Aaron Puls
2021 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture winner | Alvin Zhu

Find out more about our the past winners of the Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture


Maitland Riverlink | CHROFI with McGregor Coxall | NSW | Photographer: Simon Wood

Who can participate

Current financial SONA members who have advanced architecture in the previous two years may be nominated or self-nominate for this prize. The work must have been undertaken while still a student or while the student has deferred the course (with the intention of finishing their architecture study in subsequent years).

Nominations can be made by SONA members, SONA Executive, NEC members and Australian Architecture Schools/Programs. When nominated by other than the applicant, one nomination and an additional referee are required.

Current National Councillors, Australian Institute of Architects staff members and current Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture jurors may not take part in the application/nomination process.

Achievements of the entrant considered by the Jury must relate to the advancement of architecture in leadership, publication, community or education activities other than those that form part of the role of SONA President.


About the Process

The online entry form must be completed with the following details:

  • A statement of excellence addressing one or more of the selection criteria (teaching, research, community engagement, scholarship, leadership). The statement should be a maximum of one A4 page and be in a format suitable for publication (PDF is preferred).
  • A CV of no more than two A4 pages referencing the nominee/applicant’s educational qualifications, career history, teaching positions and experience (where applicable).
  • Contact information of two referees/nominators. If you are self-nominating or a collaboration, please provide the contact information of two referees.
  • An image of the nominee (individual or group).
The 2019 Emil Sodersten Award | Denton Corker Marshall Studio | Denton Corker Marshall | Victoria | Photographer: Shannon McGrath

judging criteria

Blackwood St Bunker | Clare Cousins Architects | Photographer: Lisbeth Grossman

what the Judges look for

The entrant should demonstrate high achievement in one or preferably more of the following categories:

Leadership – chairing forums; organising student groups; effective representation of students on Institute and/or university committees; organising student activities such as conferences, competitions, camps, architecture weeks, exhibitions, architecture revues, guest lecture programs.

Publication – editing, designing and/or producing a student or professional publication; student design and theory work; student opinion; student reviews of works of architecture; letters to the editor in prominent newspapers; articles in Architecture Australia and/or Chapter magazines; articles in student (campus-based) newspapers/magazines; digital publications.

Community – promoting architecture and/or architects to the public; involving students with community issues; involving the community with architectural issues.

Education – involvement in education activities that have consistently advanced architecture.

2023 winner

Congratulations Blake Hillebrand

The importance of social engagement for architecture students during the challenging time surrounding COVID is highlighted by Blake Hillebrand’s breadth of activities. Hillebrand’s initiatives have helped to foster a strong, positive and engaged student culture by bringing together students from architecture schools across Victoria. Through his involvement with SONA and as president of RMIT’s architecture student collective RASCOL, he has instigated and managed multiple events over the past year with passion and enthusiasm. He has sought out opportunities across a variety of domains to provide student learning and mentorship, competitions and celebrations in ways that are creative, collaborative, informative and joyful.

With a palpable spirit of generosity, Hillebrand has worked to bring architecture students together and, in doing so, has provided much-needed connection and support during a difficult time. His sense of care, consideration for others and desire to give back have contributed significantly to the important work of building a social and sustainable community.


Shannon Battisson FRAIA (Chair) | National President, Australian Institute of Architects | The Mill: Architecture + Design

Lisa Moore FRAIA | National Education Committee Chair | And Architecture

Nicole Mesquita-Mendes | SONA President, Australian Institute of Architects

Jefa Greenaway RAIA| University of Melbourne

2023 Student Advancement of Architecture Prize Winner | Blake Hillebrand

2022 winners


Thomas Huntingford has made substantial contributions to the advancement of the education of architecture by inspiring camaraderie among his student cohort, promoting student engagement and consistently challenging himself and his peers to do more.

Thomas has formed meaningful relationships with his teachers, peers and colleagues, and collaborated with them to successfully initiate ways to increase student engagement with architectural discourse. In early 2020, he worked with his lecturer to start a student initiative called “Interviewing Designers and Architects.” He is the co-chair of the Melbourne School of Design (MSD) Student Forum, which he has made a more accessible place for all students through removing the need for formal applications. In 2019, he created the MSD Discussion Board Facebook group. This online platform, which now has more than 1,500 members, has simulated the studio culture online, allowing the sharing of work, ideas and events.

A human-scale peer-to-peer approach has been brought to SONA’s executive team through Thomas’s leadership and advocacy for meaningful engagement of SONA members. Thomas has represented students at the Institute’s Victorian Chapter Council, Victorian Education Committee, Architect Victoria Editorial Committee and Sustainability in Architecture Forum.

Thomas has made a genuine contribution to the promotion of architecture for the benefit of the profession and the student experience. His leadership has had a positive impact on the culture of the education of architecture and student wellbeing, and has included provide students with a safe place to contribute and do more through friendship and camaraderie.

2022 Student Advancement of Architecture Prize Joint Winner | Thomas Huntingford | Photographer: Aaron Puls


Isabella Reynolds has made a unique and progressive contribution to the advancement of architecture and education. She has operated at the intersection of student experience and the broader profession in a skilled and sophisticated manner. She has shown strong leadership among the student cohort in the area of interdisciplinary design and collaboration.

In 2020, Isabella founded the ongoing Architecture& panel series, which seeks to engage members of the profession in discussions on architecture and its surrounding disciplines. These discussions, made accessible in-person and online, have also been archived and published in the University of Queensland Barbara Journal, allowing discourse to reach the broader community. This platform for diverse interdisciplinary engagement provides opportunity for industry leaders, engineers, students, practitioners, CEOs, artists, developers, politicians, urban planners and academics to intermingle and merge in the same physical and ideological spaces.

Isabella has acted as both student and teacher during her architectural education. Whilst working in a Student of Architecture role at BVN in Brisbane, she established an open-to-all guest lecture program at her place of employment to feature Brisbane artists and emerging architects. The program was accompanied by an in-studio design and art workshop and competition that culminated in an exhibition of works at the Queensland State Library. Furthermore, whilst undertaking her Masters of Architecture, she undertook a tutoring role at her university in Building Technology, with a focus on mass timber structures.

Isabella Reynolds has made significant contributions in architecture education which have benefited the education to her student cohort, as well as the broader profession. She operates effectively in cross disciplinary environments, and broadly influences the architecture profession in a manner that is cross generational, and noteworthy considering her years of experience. She provides a precedent to the strong contributions that students can have on the future of the architectural profession.

2022 Student Advancement of Architecture Prize Joint Winner | Isabella Reynolds | Photographer: Marian Drew


Tony Giannone FRAIA (Chair) – National President | Director, Tectvs

Lisa Moore FRAIA – NEC Chair and National Councillor | Director, And Architecture

Dr Helen Norrie – University of Tasmania

Leanne Haidar – National SONA President | SJB Architects

2021 winner

Congratulations to Alvin Zhu

Alvin Zhu has presented a thoughtful approach to articulating the transition from architectural student to architectural professional. In Projects by People, he has delivered a resource of particular relevance for architectural students of 2021. This online initiative, with its intention of communicating the people and personalities behind projects, offers a beautifully articulated and diverse suite of material as a conduit to the architectural community when it is needed most. Alvin has taken global experiences and collated them in a beautifully considered manner.

The refreshing nature of Alvin’s body of work is its simplicity in contributing rather than taking from. There is strength in the seemingly simple quest to promote collaborative dialogue. In an ever-expanding world and a constantly growing industry, Alvin has sought to connect students from different corners of the globe through their work and their passion for architecture. Projects by People serves as a reminder to those in architecture (both students and practitioners) to look beyond the physical work produced – be it at university or in practice – in order to see the human connection. 

Alvin’s generosity in engaging in this project that connects the global community of architecture students is particularly commended. The Projects by People Instagram account uses a simple format to facilitate a well-presented platform, allowing students to share their projects, values and aspirations. Alvin has collaborated with others on established programs, including the SONA Career Series, and initiated other projects, including Advice by Architects, that provide useful information for students and recent alumni. These projects are motivated by a genuine desire to connect and inform, rather than by self-interest or self-promotion.

2021 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture winner | Alvin Zhu

2020 winner

Congratulations to Chantelle Fry

Chantelle Fry is awarded the Australian Institute of Architects 2020 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture for her proven leadership amongst fellow students and within the profession. Since commencing her Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Adelaide in 2015, Chantelle has been committed to fostering student engagement and showcasing student work to the wider architecture community.

Chantelle is a passionate advocate for her fellow students at the University of Adelaide and also nationwide. She is genuine in her approach and conducts herself with openness and integrity. Through organising events such as ArchiSpiel, the Student Design Project, and the National Student Dinner, Chantelle has been able to strengthen the student community in South Australia. Joining the SONA national team in 2017 and 2018, she brought this same lively enthusiasm to organising the national SuperStudio competition.

Chantelle has shown an unrelenting passion for the profession through her mentorship of her peers and High School students. She has contributed to an open dialogue for students, engendering a healthier and happier architecture cohort. She strives to create a student community that embraces the values that she competently models and represents – enthusiasm, inclusivity, and leadership.

2020 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture winner | Chantelle Fry | Photographer: Aaron Plus

2019 winner

Bobbie Bayley and Owen Kelly

The 2019 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture is awarded to Bobbie Bayley and Owen Kelly for their project “Grand Section.” Inspired by the principles of the Grand Tour and an architectural section, Bobbie and Owen set out to explore the relationship between landscape, architecture and people in some of the most remote parts of Australia. Travelling by bicycle for ten months, the pair traversed the continent along latitude 25°S from Fraser Island in the east to Shark Bay in the west, a journey of 7,600 kilometres. Their journey was punctuated by week-long stopovers that afforded Bobbie and Owen opportunities for exchange by engaging communities in participatory workshops and discussions about place, people and architecture. The findings were captured and presented through onsite exhibitions and illustrated keepsake booklets. 

Bobbie and Owen documented their journey via Instagram, Facebook and a blog – “The Grand Section: Girt by Sea, Girth by Desert” – and, since completing it, they have shared their research with the wider architectural community through conference presentations and numerous talks and workshops across Australia. They have also produced a travelling exhibition, Girthy with Slim Edges, comprising handmade display cases, printed zines and videos from their travels. They continue to travel and share their experiences and insights with both the architectural profession and the general public. 
The jury unanimously awards this prize to Bobbie and Owen for their initiative, creativity and tenacity, and for their commitment to the advancement of architecture through leadership, publication, education and, most particularly, community engagement and advocacy in promoting the value and importance of Australian architecture.’– Jury Citation

Congratulations also goes to Julius Egan for receiving a Commendation for the 2019 Student Prize for the Advancement of Architecture

Dalhousie Springs Image: Dillon-Seitchik-Reardon

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