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Alumna Sarah Mae-Siew receives prestigious Architects Medallion

17 June 2019
Top industry award recognising emerging leaders
The Architects Medallion represents one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a NSW Master of Architecture graduate.

Since 1924, the award has been given to one recipient each year, selected through a competitive process judged by the NSW Architects Registration Board.

The award citation drew particular attention to Sarah’s demonstrated academic and professional success, as well as her resolve to make a positive impact in the built environment.

“Sarah has demonstrated through her outstanding design studio work a sustained commitment to addressing the challenges of the contemporary world…and [her] academic results clearly show a sustained commitment to excellence.”

“As she moves on from her University studies into the architectural profession, the jury envisages an influential role for Sarah, one that masters the complexity of interactions and decisions to achieve excellence in the built environment to deliver outcomes that are both human-centred and transformative.”

Sarah completed the Bachelor of Design in Architecture at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, and later the Master of Architecture in 2018. She now resides in a graduate position at Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW).

“Sarah is, in my view, one of Australian architecture's most promising young talents and a rarity in today's profession."
Graeme Dix, Director, JPW

“She sees her role and responsibility through multiple lenses, at both a strategic and detailed level, and appreciates architecture's capacity to make a positive and sustainable difference to the built environment, irrespective of project type, scale or budget.”

Sarah says the Medallion re-affirms her passion and drive to connect issues of social justice, sustainability and computational design in the built environment.

“It is an absolute honour to receive such a prestigious award, but with it comes the welcomed responsibility to enact positive change both in architectural design and our industry,” says Sarah.

Design with intent

As a student, Sarah developed a keen interest in social engagement and advanced technologies. Her strengths were evidenced through numerous awards, and contributions to the discipline.

Her competition entry for Building Trust International’s Moved to Care Competition in 2014, proposed a mobile architectural structure that would facilitate access to basic healthcare for the marginalized people of remote South East Asian regions. It was awarded an honorable mention and subsequently received the Col James Award for Social Justice in Architecture for successfully linking social and environmentally sustainable practices.

Sarah’s design project for the Sustainable Architecture Research Studio proposed an education centre at Linden Observatory in the Blue Mountains that reused elements of the existing heritage buildings in combination with passive design principles and traditional construction technologies to sensitively commemorate the history of the site, whilst also providing optimal living conditions for the present.

“I have met so many inspiring educators and students through my studies at the University of Sydney, and each of them have influenced the way I think about architecture and the built environment,” says Sarah. “I have been afforded so many opportunities that I would never have otherwise dreamed of and it has been so exciting to let my interests naturally evolve over the last few years.”

Professor Sandra Loschke, Program Director of the Master of Architecture, says the School is delighted by the news of this achievement. “Sarah is an outstanding role model for advocacy and engagement within the School, and her remarkable work and beliefs make a positive difference to the discipline, the profession and the community.”

“The recognition is also a strong testament to the calibre of our programs and the quality of work from our students and graduates.”

So what’s next for one of our Australia’s rising stars in the built environment?

“In my current role, I’m grateful to be learning from some of the best architects in the industry,” say Sarah. “Computational design is an area of study I have become increasing interested in, and I am keen to explore how it can be integrated more accessibly in practice.”

“I have built so many great relationships with people I have an immense amount of respect for. It's fantastic to be a part of a community full of passionate individuals committed to architectural education and the built environment.”