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A journey through Asia on the Parker Fellowship

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The Parker Fellowship is a travelling scholarship given annually to one architecture student from the University of Newcastle to explore an architectural idea and document it through sketching. It aims to promote and foster development of future architects by providing this unique opportunity to explore their topics on an international scale.

The Fellowship was established in memory of Eric Clarence Parker who was the first permanent teacher of Architecture at the Newcastle University College and furthermore was the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. He believed that hand drawing was a vital skill in the architectural world.

The most recent to complete this trip was Michi Playford, the 2016 recipient. She brought forward the interest to understand our principals to constructing housing, a highly relevant topic that every student should question. Distraught with Australian houses that have no regard for their surrounding context or climatic conditions, she set out with an aim to document 'vernacular housing of Asia in order to investigate how it might contribute to the creation of a new Australian vernacular'.

"Australia is currently the fifth worst emitter of green house gases in the world on a per capita basis, ranking only marginally better than gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. A significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is suburban residential development, accounting for 11.1%, while the Electricity, gas and water we use to run them accounts for 35.4% of emissions," says Michi.

She travelled for five months to Nepal, India, Vietnam, China and Japan. In these different climatic regions, she observed how the local buildings responded “to their local climate and context in order to better understand how they function and regulate thermal comfort.” She became enlightened by building forms such as courtyard design through use of ventilation and light. As well as unknown building strategies such as a combination of the use of western materials used in a local traditional method.

On this journey Michi spent time staying with families in villages and exploring the larger cities. But overall found China to be the biggest culture shock and was absolutely amazed by the rapid development. Michi related her observations of these largely highly populated areas to the growing concern of Australia's major cities and the question of how the density should develop.

Read more on her travel blog which recounts her personal experiences and her notes.

You can also read about the other Parker Fellowship trips on the website.

Applications for the 2018 Parker Fellowship are open until March 4, find out more and apply now.

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