a design challenge like no other

Upscale is a fast-paced design challenge open to all SONA members.

The Upscale challenge will encourage students to think critically about design and innovation, through a hands on approach involving close consideration of materiality. The challenge focuses more on design and buildability rather than a conceptual approach. 

Working in teams students will be challenged to respond to a set brief and present their idea to a panel of judges. Each year the brief is totally different check out the 2020 brief here. 

Participating in upscale

Reading of the brief (virtual session) 
Friday 13 August 5.30pm AEST 
Receive the Upscale brief with other participants from around the country. You will  hear from the Creative Directors who developed the brief and have an opportunity to ask any questions. 

Upscale Design Day 
Saturday 14 August 9am – 5.30pm (local time) 
Venue to be confirmed in each check details here 

Participants in each state come together for one day to design and collaborate in their teams. Industry professionals will be attending to mentor and assist teams with their design development. 

Why not spend your Saturday designing, collaborating, meeting new people and challenging yourself? Upscale 


Competition Date Time More info
Reading of the Brief Friday 13 August 5.30am AEST Virtual Session Connect here
Last chance for teams to register Register for Upscale
Upscale Design Day Saturday 14 August 5:30pm AEST check the details in your state

Find out more about the brief at the reading of the brief session on Friday 13 August.

Participants in each state come together for one day to design and collaborate in their teams. Industry professionals will be attending to mentor and assist teams with their design development. 

Details of local juries and mentor sessions to help with design development.

The brief & creative directors

Nick is an architect registered in Victoria and teaches part-time at Deakin. Nick’s experience includes both working for builders and architects during all phases of projects. Past training in fine woodworking and re-learning how to weld for a hobby reinforce important lessons in patience that translate into many contexts. 

James is a registered domestic builder and enjoys building architecturally designed projects throughout Melbourne. James’ construction experience ranges from multi-dwelling apartment buildings to single-dwelling homes.

The 2021 Super Studio brief has been developed by Upscale Creative Directors, Nick Jahnecke and James Ind.

We asked Nick and James to provide some insights into this year’s brief and what students can expect from the challenge:

“In your everyday life doing everyday things you come across everyday moments which are feebly forgotten. These moments could be compounded by the lacklustre built outcomes that occupy them. These moments can add up to represent large amounts of time in your life without even realising it.

Upscale 2021 presents you with the opportunity to reimagine these built outcomes into something that could shift the banality of our daily routines.”


Each state will host a design day on Saturday 14 August. 
industry professionals will be attending to mentor and assist teams with their design development. Each team has an opportunity to present their idea to a jury 


Mentors will attend the Upscale Design Day on Saturday 14 August. Mentors are local industry professionals who can help with design development, answering questions and offering advice. This is a great way for participants to meet industry professionals from local practices!


Mentors will be announced soon! 

If you would like to be involved as a volunteer get in touch! 

Levi Fletcher, City Geeks QLD
Sam Mcqueeny, Vokes and Peters QLD
Paul Worroll, Reddog Architects, QLD
Alistair Kirk, Local Architects PTY LTD
Sam Auckland, SA
Taya Brooks, BHI Architects, NSW
Paola Incer, QLD
Sarah Yap, JPW, NSW 
Benjamin Greaves, NSW
Saxon Hall, SAXON HALL architecture, TAS 
Gary Henighen, Architectus, NSW

Kim Mudie, VIC 
Angus McNichol, John Wardle Architects, NSW
Matias Chadwick, HASSELL, QLD
Belinda Allwood, POD (People Orientated Design) QLD
Colin Strydom, design+architecture, QLD
Paola Incer, QLD
Sarah Aisworth, Cottee Parker Architects, QLD
Chloe Pellicer, TKD Architects, NSW
Simon Rochowski, studioplusthree, NSW
Bronwyn Litera, Litera Trotta Architecture, NSW
Mary Ann Jackson, Visionary Design Development Pty Ltd
Hugh Michelmore, Walter Brooke & Associates, SA
Robert Davidov, Davidov Architects. VIC
Paul Bartsch, Troppo Architects, NT
Ursula Chandler, Ursula Chandler Architects, VIC
Gina Taylor, Nettletontribe, QLD 

State Juries

Each state will host a presentation day where a local jury will decide the top 3 teams in their state. See who is on the jury in each state here 

online submission

Submissions are now closed.  

Online Submission: 

Due on/or before Saturday 15 May 9am AEST
Specific submissions requirements and instructions can be on the brief document 

Face to Face Presentations:  
Saturday 15 May check here for information about your states presentation day 

If you cant present live, pre-recorded submissions are due at 9amAEST along with online submission. 

For the face to face presentations, there is no limit to the number of supplementary slides you can use for this presentation. If you want to include a video or other forms of media, it’s up to you. The time each team has to present is 5mins + 2 mins q&a with the jury. All teams should be ready to present a 3pm.

2020 superstudio winner

Congratulations to Caleb Lee & Nithya Ranasisinghe

Our team immediately recalled the devastating Beirut port explosion in August, streets littered with shattered glass, possessions and paraphernalia strewn on the ground like trash – compounding Lebanon’s waste problem. We critiqued this year’s brief to be respectful of place. In order to be considerate, we strongly believed that we needed to be knowledgeable too. Thus we began the project by questioning the systems, culture, history and how would those indirectly affected resonate with this tragedy?

Under quarantine, the sphere in which we experience space has condensed yet conflated. Objects that surround us suddenly have a profound influence in how we act. Building upon the idea of lost possessions and sustainability, our team was interested in how material transmutation of objects affect our behaviour. What if we woke up and all our possessions were made from glass? Would we value them as much as our memorabilia? What would we be willing to discard?

Those who have been through trauma tend to gravitate towards rituals of consistency and routine, aspects found in religion. Therefore, we believed that a built outcome was not the answer to grief. We saw an opportunity to address Lebanon’s pre-existing problems surrounding waste disposal. Resonating with this year’s theme of “renewal”, we sought to propose a gradually dissipating ceremony, in a domestic setting to empathize with those in grief.

View the winning proposal here.


Yes you can, you must register yourself/your team as usual. 

How to submit if you can’t present live:

Record your presentation via Zoom as if you were presenting live – this cannot exceed 7 minutes in length – if it does, we will cut the recording short. On the briefing document there will be clear instructions on how to submit your recording. This is due Saturday 15 May 9am AEST along with your online submission. 

It is highly recommended participants present live. If you are prerecording, you will miss out on a Q&A session with the jury and the opportunity to clarify elements of your proposal.

To participate in Super Studio, you firstly need to register your team (4 people max) or register as an individual.

At the time of registering select your preferred mentor time slot links to access mentoring are above ensure you connect at the time you register for. 

Attend the reading of the brief session. If you are unable to participate in this session, the recording will be available on our website afterwards.

Start designing!

Connect to one of the design day presentations during the week. We have some interesting speakers who will be conducting interactive chats around topics connected to our brief to help you to expand your thinking.

Connect to your mentoring session to get some feedback about your proposal from an industry professional.

Presentations and submission due on Saturday 15 May.

You can participate as an individual or as a team of 2,3 or up to 4 students.

Team members don’t need to come from your university but all team members should be SONA members.

Get in touch with Madelynn at the Institute –

This is important to let us know rather than not turning up as our mentors are giving up their time to help you.

There will be two virtual mentoring sessions available for all teams to help with their proposals.

Tuesday 11 May & Thursday 13 May from 5.30pm onwards. 

At the time of registering you select your preferred mentoring time slot. The link to access mentoring time slots is above in the table titled SuperStudio dates and activities.

Refer here for more information on who the 2021 SuperStudio mentors are

Register for SuperStudio here. The last chance to register is Monday 10 May 7.30pmAEST

The Design Day Talks are not compulsary for participants. We do encourage you to come along though, its a chance to explore the themes of the SuperStudio brief further with fellow participants and design professionals. Refer here for more information about the Design day presentations. 

1-2 business days after you register for SuperStudio you will receive an email with information about your states presentation day and access to your mentoring session. 

you can also refer here to view the location of your states presentation day. 


Review the Terms and Conditions for SONA competitions here