A/Prof Christhina Candido: The Changing Role of the Office

Five questions with A/Prof Christhina Candido from the University of Melbourne, about herself, her work and latest research into the impact that Covid has had on the role of the office.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you’ve ended up where you are today.

A good question that I never know how to answer. But the truth is, after I was awarded a research scholarship as an undergraduate architecture student in Brazil, I simply felt in love with applied research. This came as a great surprise to me, as academia was not at all in my mind back then. That’s how I got involved with research and decided to pursue an MPhil and then later a PhD. During my PhD, I noticed that all papers cited the same person, so I’ve reached out to this author to ask for a few journal papers I couldn’t find online. He was kind enough to reply to my email and send me all papers, but he also got interested in my topic of research. After a meeting about my PhD he offered me a scholarship to come to Australia and continue my studies under his supervision. And that’s how I end up moving here back in 2008 which again, was never part of my plan.

What are you passionate about?

In teaching, I am passionate about exposing students to relevant topics that they will very likely have to deal with as built environment professionals. Blending technical knowledge with research findings from real cases studies, industry guests and site visits is a good combination when showing the value of the content I am trying to teach in the real-world. There is nothing like hearing from students about how the subject changed their views about their career choice, and then seem them successfully finding industry placements. I find that extremely rewarding, and it gives me purpose. In research, I am passionate about applied topics, that are likely to generate new knowledge to address real-world problems. It is quite special to see findings from the research being used and referred to by industry and having an impact on the design, performance and experience of spaces. It is a great privilege to work closely with industry, IWBI, GBCA and NABERS, which drives me and my work, no doubt.

I think “pay it forward” is something to live by

— A/Prof Christhina Candido

You’ve been involved with Rowan Hamman and his team for over 5 years now, what do you enjoy about that partnership?

Rowan had a significant impact on my career trajectory when he decided to fund my first project looking into how the design of ABW-supportive environments impact people. After that first project, there were at least ten others, including a large grant funded by the Australian Research Council. Rowan was instrumental in making my research visible to industry, and I am very grateful for that. Beyond research, we managed to establish a great mentoring program aimed at providing students with the day-to-day routine of an office, but most importantly getting them thinking about their short-term career goals. Students’ feedback over the years about this mentoring program has been phenomenal. I look forward to continuing to work with Rowan for many years to come.

Where do you see the industry you’re working in heading? What sort of concepts should we be opening our minds to?

I think the overall lift in literacy around performance of spaces and its impact on health prompted by the pandemic is a real game changer. Before COVID designing for health and wellbeing was seeing as a ‘nice to have’ and that is no longer the case. Safe environments to go back to work, learn, play is in everybody’s minds now and that’s likely to have a long-lasting impact on the design and performance of spaces. I believe this is a great opportunity to lift the built environment performance, which is timely considering the challenges we are facing during this pandemic and climate change. There should be no room for underperforming environments in the post-2020 era.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think “pay it forward” is something to live by.


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