The largest single donation in the history of the Faculty of Built Environment to support higher degree research scholarships paves the way for new students undertaking research to build towards more resilient, liveable, sustainable and healthy cities in the Asia Pacific region.

The $1 million gift over 10 years comes from UNSW alumni and donor Dr Vincent Lo (HonDBus '13), founder and chairman of the Shui On Group. The Group is principally engaged in property development, construction and construction materials, with interests in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

One to two PhD candidates with a focus on addressing urban regeneration and renewal in the region will be awarded the scholarship each year. Each scholarship will have a value of $100,000 and will be payable for 3.5 years. The scholarship will pay stipends for general living costs with the first scholarship awarded to a candidate commencing Term 1 2020.

Dr Lo, who currently serves as the board director on the UNSW Hong Kong Foundation Board, said the purpose of the scholarship is to attract highly qualified students to UNSW, a leading institution in urbanisation, renewal and planning.

“I hope the scholarship will support talented students develop research that will provide answers to one of the great challenges of our time – making sure that cities across the rapidly urbanising Asia Pacific region remain affordable and liveable for all people,” said Dr Lo. “Ultimately, I hope the scholarship will be the most sought after for the best and the brightest students in the Asia Pacific region interested in urban planning and renewal.”

Urbanisation and renewal, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, has reached a pivotal point. By 2050, the United Nations estimates two-thirds of humanity – or 2.5 billion more people than today – will be living in cities. The Asia Pacific is one of the world’s fastest urbanising regions. It is also home to the largest number of people living in low-income settlements.

Built Environment Dean Professor Helen Lochhead said urban regeneration is a critical part of development in the Asia Pacific region.

“A focus on regeneration is a more sustainable approach to new development in our rapidly urbanising cities,” said Professor Lochhead. “By working with what already exists, adaptive reuse, regeneration and renewal together can build on the inherent attributes of a place, and often energise and seamlessly integrate new and existing development, bringing new life into an urban area while conserving its cultural and social fabric.”

Professor David Sanderson, inaugural Judith Neilson Chair of Architecture and leader of the Grand Challenge on Rapid Urbanisation, said the scholarship will enable the Faculty to attract the best students to address some of the greatest challenges facing humanity, including equity.

“It is really going to help. We have a fantastic faculty here who are focused on getting the brightest minds to really focus on changing the world – we are determined to do nothing less than that,” Professor Sanderson said. “Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world in terms of urbanisation and there are too many people who don’t get a slice of the pie in a good way. Urban renewal means opening inclusion to those who are marginalised and that is very exciting as it is the pressing need right now.”

Applications are now available for the Dr Vincent Lo Built Environment PhD Scholarship and close Sunday 4 August. The scholarship will start Term 1 2020. The scholarship is available for new Australian and international applicants to cover stipends for general living costs; tuition fees for international students still apply.

Find out more about the Dr Vincent Lo Built Environment PhD Scholarship.