Final year Master of Architecture student Sasha Lesiuk has been chosen for a paid internship at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in Genoa, Italy. Established by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the workshop is committed to promoting architecture through study and research.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is the only university in Australia to offer a prestigious Renzo Piano Foundation internship, joining the likes of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Ecole Nationale Architecture Superieure Paris-Malaquais and Brazil’s Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo.

The underlying principle of the internship is 'learning by doing'. Lesiuk will be involved in every phase of architectural projects, including design and experimentation and construction.

For Lesiuk, architecture runs in the family.

“My parents are both architects, and my grandfather was also an architect. So, architecture is a little bit genetic,” she says.

Discipline director of architecture at UNSW Built Environment, Dr Phillip Oldfield, says the RPBW internship will provide Lesiuk with a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

"This internship is a life-changing opportunity for Sasha. To work alongside an eminent practitioner such as Renzo Piano will be invaluable to her development as a future architect. She will carry that learning experience well into her career."

Lesiuk is familiar with Piano's body of work, having studied the architect's philosophy throughout her time at UNSW.

"I really like Renzo Piano's work,” she says.

“It has a wonderful combination of big-picture thinking and refined detail design, as well as a strong focus on construction.”

She hopes to pass on her experience at the RPBW to future students.

“Over the past two years, I have been a tutor for a first-year Architecture course called Communications. It teaches students the basics of architecture and how to communicate their ideas graphically. Helping students realise what architecture is and find what it means to them opened my eyes to the joy of teaching. After having the chance to go and learn from someone like Renzo Piano, I would like to be able to bring this knowledge back and share it with future students.”

Lesiuk also hopes to use the experience to help her decide where to land in the architecture field when she graduates.

“With both my parents being residential architects and having worked only in small-scale architecture practices, this internship is an occasion to branch out,” she says.

“I hope that through my experiences, I will have a better understanding of which direction I want to go in – whether I end up continuing to work on small-scale residential projects or if I would rather be part of a larger team working on bigger projects.”

Image credit: UNSW