UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May
UBC Architect Grad Builds a Better World
Using her skills to help the less fortunate
By April Wilson-Lange
Stephanie Gerbrandt’s love of travel and her desire
to make a difference led her to architecture. Now she’s
helping people one building at a time.
Gerbrandt’s interest in architecture began when the
29-year-old was in her last year of her undergraduate degree
at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. In this year,
she established a chapter of Habitat for Humanity and led
a team of fellow students to Portland, Oregon, to renovate
She also took part in a school-run work project in the Dominican
Republic to build latrines and a foundation for a local church,
after the destruction of hurricane Georges.
“These experiences confirmed that I wanted to study
architecture,” says Gerbrandt, who will receive her
Master of Architecture degree from the Faculty of Graduate
Studies this spring.
Gerbrandt’s graduate thesis looked at ways to create
inexpensive, sustainable housing for people in the Dominican
“I’m investigating the use of local materials
to improve the living conditions of the people,” she
says. She explains that an inexpensive resource like bamboo
can be used to build walls that can be used as storage space.
Wanting to learn how other countries practice architecture,
Gerbrandt did a seven-month student placement in a small firm
in London, England, in the second year of her program at UBC.
Directly after her work-term in the United Kingdom, she went
to the Technical University of Siegan in Germany as an exchange
student. While there, she worked on a studio project to convert
a heritage factory in Hamburg into a residential building.
Gerbrandt’s talent and desire to use her skills to
help the less fortunate caught the attention of local architect
Arthur Erickson, who, thanks to his recent Vancouver Arts
Award, presented her with a $5,000 travel scholarship to further
The grant will allow her to present her thesis to Habitat
for Humanity in Dominican Republic and travel to Southeast
Gerbrandt would like to work in Vancouver or abroad designing
buildings for people in need.