On my desk: Dr Jennifer Ferng

4 October 2017

Dr Jennifer Ferng (GradCertEdStud '16) is a lecturer in architecture. Her love of art, geology and social justice has led her down many paths and seen her collect many interesting souvenirs. 

Dr Jennifer Ferng

Dr Jennifer Ferng's love of achitecture stretches beyond what you'd expect. Her interest in social justice has led her in many different directions. She now holds a junior faculty fellowship at the Harvard University Asia Centre, to investigate how the architecture of incarceration reflects broader community attitudes and can defy ethical boundaries.

Norwegian church ornament

Norwegian church ornament

I bought this ornament outside of Oslo, Norway, which has these wonderful wooden churches that were once all across Scandinavian Europe. Now there are only a few left. They’re such fascinating examples of European medieval architecture. I love seeing how other cultures build, and I think it’s so important to preserve these structures so we can continue to learn from them and be inspired.

Picture of Fingal's cave in Scotland

Fingal's Cave

This is my favourite picture of Fingal’s Cave off the coast of Scotland. It reminds me of when I first came to Sydney and I trekked through the Jenolan Caves and saw the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. It was amazing to see the physical forms within these spaces, the shapes, the lighting, the textures. I think there’s a lot we can learn about where geology meets architecture.

A carved out rock


Buildings in earthquake zones have to be flexible. The Harbour Bridge is also an amazingly elastic structure. If you walk across it, you can feel the bridge move with each vehicle. As architects, we often borrow methods pioneered by other disciplines. But we need to be more on the front foot and put more of how the world behaves into our designs.

A postcard with a picture of a sculpture on the front

Postcard from Trevor

My colleague and good friend Trevor Howells sent me this postcard from the British Museum. He sadly passed away a few years ago and I love this postcard because the message on the back reminds me of who he was. He says to eat delicious yum cha with my family and “try to be good, only when they’re looking”. Trevor’s still with me in spirit, and this postcard is such an important reminder never to forget the whimsical side of life.

Marvin the martian's sidekick K9 figurine

Marvin the Martian’s sidekick K9

I used to draw caricatures and cartoon characters at a theme park to make money when I was in high school. People would always ask for their caricature in different scenarios like “Can you draw us getting married?” or “Can you draw me on the roller coaster?”. I wanted to study fine arts, but my parents said, “You’re valedictorian, you can’t go to art school”.

A small model of a bar

First-year student model

This was a model from a talented former first-year student, Agie Wiriahadi. I set a task to redesign the ‘Darlo Bar’, a popular pub in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. It’s a tricky, triangular site, so he created a capsule tower inspired by the Japanese Metabolists of the 1960s, who fused ideas about megastructures and organic systems. It has a groovy ’60s vibe and I can imagine people eating space-age food in there. 

A red crab toy

Red crabs

I bought this squishy crab toy from the only post office on Christmas Island. I remember seeing this wave of red that turned out to be a mass migration of red crabs. I’d never seen anything like it before. On the island, I also observed Australian Navy ships intercepting an asylum seeker boat. This was the catalyst for my interest in researching the architecture used in mandatory detention centres.

Photography by Stefanie Zingsheim

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