Jincheng Jiang is the first Master of Architecture student in Australia to receive a six-month internship with the prestigious Renzo Piano Foundation in Italy.

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano established the non-profit foundation in 2004, with a commitment to promoting architecture through study and research.

UNSW Sydney is the first Australian university to be offered a Renzo Piano Foundation internship, joining established universities including Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Ecole Nationale Architecture Superior Paris-Malaquais, and Brazil’s Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo.

The underlying principle of the internship is ‘learning by doing’, with all interns participating in every phase of architectural projects including design and experimentation, as well as visiting construction sites to help bridge the gap between academic knowledge and the reality of the architect's profession.

For Chinese-born Jiang, the internship marks his first trip to Europe. He will be based at Piano’s international architectural practice, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in Genoa, from September.  

RPBW have completed numerous famous buildings worldwide including The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, The Shard skyscraper in London and the New Whitney Museum in New York.

I want to observe, and be part of, the transition from concept, models and drawings to the reality of a building.

“I came from China to Australia to study at UNSW but this will be a completely different experience, I’m very excited,” Jiang said.

“I’m looking forward to taking the leap from an academic environment to industry, and working with Renzo Piano will be a fantastic place to experience it. I want to observe, and be part of, the transition from concept, models and drawings to the reality of a building.”

The Masters student is familiar with Piano’s work and incorporated some of the famous architect’s philosophy into his UNSW Built Environment undergraduate graduation project, which was overseen by UNSW Professor of Practice and former Pritzker Prize winner Glenn Murcutt.

Jiang says he appreciates that both Piano and Murcutt value buildings that are sympathetic to their natural surroundings.

“I was drawn to Professor Murcutt’s philosophy which is to 'touch the earth lightly' and Piano has a similar approach – he has a reputation for sensitivity and coherence in his buildings and for architecture to fully cooperate with the environment.”

UNSW Built Environment Dean Professor Helen Lochhead said she was delighted that the Faculty had secured the internship for UNSW students.

“This internship is a first for an Australian university which offers a life-changing opportunity for a budding architect to work with such an eminent practitioner as Renzo Piano. These moments are defining in a young architect’s career and are part of a well-rounded global education. 

“My hope is that many more UNSW students will also be able to have this opportunity well into the future. These defining moments are all part of a well-rounded global education,” Professor Lochhead said.