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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 5 | May 6, 2004

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 homes.

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 Republic.

“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 her career.

The grant will allow her to present her thesis to Habitat for Humanity in Dominican Republic and travel to Southeast Asia.

Gerbrandt would like to work in Vancouver or abroad designing buildings for people in need.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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