Personality profile: Katrina Tongson

Katrina is a third-year Architecture student at Monash University and also is a draftsperson working at CMS Architects since 2016. Her current studio is called Civic Necklace which is about providing affordable housing for the homeless and creating a community through engagement with Moonee Ponds Creek. She wants to develop a water park that provides job opportunities for those living in the housing, as well as accompanying facilities. (Second chance for the homeless)


Katrina Tongson

Preferred name:




Place of birth:

I was born in Bacolod City (city of smiles), Philippines, and migrated to Australia with my family in 2008


1990 to 2008- Bacolod Tay Tung High School- Primary School to halfway of year 8

2008 to 2013- Lalor Secondary College- Year 8 to Year 12

2013 to 2015- Melbourne Polytechnic- Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architecture)

2016 to present- Monash University (Caulfield) - Bachelor of Architecture, also where I want to finish my Master's degree.

Favourite architecture quote:

“Simplicity and repose are the quality that measures the true value of any work of art” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Favourite building at Monash:

The Library. I may not always visit the library but I am always mesmerized by the architectural aesthetic of the building every time I walk past it. The clever design of the steel frame façade that also works as a sunshade and the warm interior timber finishes.

Favourite architecture experience:

The Tasmania School tour. It was great to get out of the classroom workshop and to be out there and experience a bit of the real-world. Also, to work with actual clients and to put those ideas onto paper and present a design that they were comfortable and happy to take inspirations from.

Favourite architecture book/magazine/movie:

AA (Architecture Australia) magazine.

Biggest architecture influence:

I am a technical person when it comes to architecture hence Frank Lloyd Wright is my biggest influencer - he believed in designing structures that were in harmony with its surrounding environment, philosophy of organic architecture. Fallingwater (1867-1959) is one of my most admired architectural design because Wright used existing sites nature and the surrounding materials, colours and the natural features as his inspiration, and the result, he created a harmonious union of art and nature within his design, which has also been called “the best all-time work of American Architecture)

Favourite assignment (university assignment only):

3rd year, the first Semester, where the studio class travelled to Tasmania and re-design coastal pit stops for tourists and locals. The studio also focused on dealing with real-life clients and designing proposals that require to follow with standards and regulations.

Most helpful architecture lesson you’ve ever been taught:

“Experiment, experiment, experiment!”- I learned that putting your ideas on a blank paper and doing lots of freehand design experiments, helped me improve my design skills and to know that I am happy with my final design and that I have done my best.

Most useful computer program for design studio:

ARCHICAD- Rhino, AutoCAD, any render programs, all Adobe program, IN ONE!

Best trick to learn early at MADA:

Always sketch your designs by hand before putting anything on the computer. It is faster, flexible and more expressive. It helps you express your design thoughts freely than limiting yourself by going straight to the computer.

Most useful drawing type for design assignments:

Bubble diagram

Hand drawing or computer modeling:

Hand drawing

Favourite architecture theory or style:

Contemporary design style

What product do you use the most of on architecture work:

Pencil and paper for the schematic design and Balsawood for physical model making.

Favourite year of study at MADA:

3rd Year, More technical

What type of building would you love to design the most:

Residential Buildings - Extensions, Renovations, New Homes, Units

Do you prefer details or overall form:

Details. I love filling up my page with construction sectional details, I find it so satisfying to look at.

Preferred methods for stress management:

Go for a long drive with friends. Or even just getting off any electronic devices and going for a walk.

Finding a professional-related part-time job helped Katrina quickly improve her skills in using ARCHICAD. Her work considers the real existence of every little detail. In my design process, I learned a lot about building technology from her. It is my honour that I got to meet Katrina in university. You can find more of her work in the end of third-year second-semester exhibition.

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