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Peter Nguyen: Stories of 2017

This is the second reflection of our Conversations: Stories of 2017 series. Peter Nguyen is a graduate architect in our Sydney studio, and co-organised AGENCY2017, a conference for the Australia + New Zealand Student Architecture Congress.


Completing my Master of Architecture degree from the University of Sydney at the end of 2016, my graduate journey begun at the Sydney COX office in January.

The last twelve months have been intellectually challenging yet extremely rewarding; I’ve made some great friends and mentors along the way and have been privileged to have worked on some great projects. A few highlights include: Burwood Place, a four-tower mixed use development;890 Bourke St Zetland, a multi-residential competition in collaboration with PanovScott; and most recently on Ivanhoe Estate, a master-planned community in Sydney’s Macquarie Park, which will be Australia’s largest social/affordable/market housing development.

Perhaps the highlight of my year was being part of the creative team bring AGENCY2017 to Sydney – the 33rd edition of the Australia + New Zealand Student Architecture Congress. As some may remember, congress has been a mainstay on the architectural student calendar since 1961. It is the largest gathering of students, graduates and young architects, a nomadic community relocating every two years, run purely on student energy, passion and naivety. For a brief history, click here.

This year saw Congress return to Sydney for the first time since 1999, attended by 300+ budding architects representing every state, territory, along with a 40 strong New Zealand contingent. Amidst the backdrop of an increasingly unaffordable housing market, AGENCY was about questioning the effectiveness of architects and architecture to respond to social and economic challenges.

Over five days (28 Nov – 2nd Dec), students attended lectures by local and international architects including Atelier Bow Wow, Jeremy Till, Julie Eizenberg and our very own COXians Emma Williamson and Kieran Wong. By day, students attended workshops (generously hosted by Sydney’s foremost architecture offices) and went on site visits (White Bay Power Station, Waterloo Housing Estate, Sirius Building). By night, a myriad of exhibitions, pub crawls, parties and after parties.

If there was one thing I was reminded of during AGENCY2017 and the past year at COX, is that enormous power of architecture to do good in the world. Perhaps it is all too easy to forget in the daily grind, but may we all remain foolishly optimistic into the New Year!