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Dr George (Alex) Bremner
Cambridge and Deakin graduate Dr Alex Bremner thinks there's nothing better than a walk through the streets of Europe's capital cities, exploring buildings previously seen in books.
"Europe has such a rich and diverse culture, there is always something that surprises you," he said. "Part of the joy of walking through cities is that it gives you a chance to see first-hand those buildings you've studied through books and pictures. It's a great experience."
As a teenager, Alex was interested in science and the arts. He left Daylesford, Victoria, to study architectural drafting at Holmesglen TAFE . Alex applied for Deakin University's architecture degree after a period of work experience with his architect uncle, and with Daylesford architect Helen Bernard. Alex was granted advanced standing for his previous study and admitted straight into the second year of the architecture degree program.
Alex says the flexibility of the degree allowed him to pursue his special interests, but he was also able to acquire the technical knowledge needed to work in the field.
"I developed an interest in the history of architecture during my time at Deakin by taking courses in architectural history and theory," he said. "I then transferred what I learned to studio classes and the design of buildings. I still believe this is an important aspect of what makes 'good' architecture.
"I think the good thing about the degree at Deakin is its flexibility. The lecturers are friendly and approachable and it's a very relaxed environment," he said. "The school invites practising architects in to talk to the students, which allows them to learn how architecture operates in the real world."
Alex went on to complete his masters at Deakin, pursuing his interest in the history of architecture with a study of British Colonial Architecture in Hong Kong. His lecturers encouraged him to apply to Cambridge University. Alex was one of the first Australians to win a prestigious Gates Scholarship to complete a doctorate at Cambridge.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarships are sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and aim to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge University.
"I never dreamed of ending up at Cambridge," Alex said. "I had this view I would do a professional degree and go out and start practising architecture, but I became interested in the history of it."
Alex admits that when he first arrived at Cambridge he was captivated. He quickly settled into the unique Cambridge lifestyle, and before long was rowing for his college and playing in the Cambridge Aussie Rules football team.
"The environment in Cambridge is spectacular, with all of its old buildings-many of which date back to the medieval period," he said. "It certainly makes for a scholarly and inspiring environment.
"This wears off after a while as it becomes a part of your everyday life. Researching and writing the PhD becomes much more important."
Alex is now working as a Senior Lecturer with the University of Edinburgh and recently won the prestigious Founders' Award prize as awarded by the Society of Architectural Historians in New Orleans in April. This award is given annually to a young scholar who has published in the Society's peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.