Student Spotlight: Meet Michael

Give us a little background about yourself.

A: I’m currently an undergraduate in my 5th and final year of the Bachelor of Architecture degree here at UT Austin. I was born in Nicosia, Cyprus (a wonderful, sunny island in the Mediterranean) and have both Russian and Greek roots. Before architecture my focus was mostly towards art and design, even medicine at one point, but having traveled for most of my life and seeing different cities, my fascination turned toward how and what we build!

Why did you join Solar Decathlon?

A: Design/build has always interested me, and getting to build a house as a student is beyond exciting! Joining this project expanded my knowledge on the principles of sustainability, and I believe that efficiency and sustainable building is something both the building sector and ordinary people should really be concerned about. The greater goal here is not just designing a house, but instead to push forward ideas of how to build houses in our time that will be kinder to the environment and ensure a better future.

What is your role in the UT-TUM team?

A: I am part of the Architectural Design Team and the Visualization Team.

What have you enjoyed most about your experience so far?

A: Definitely getting hands-on experience building the house. I also had a fantastic time traveling to Munich and shaping the house design early on. It was both a challenge and a success collaborating with students from both schools while living in a totally new setting.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

A: To my final semester at UT (graduation!) and getting a job! I don’t know what the future holds in store for me, but I am excited by the wide range of opportunities.

What do you think (or hope) the impacts of Solar Decathlon are on the industry/architecture/the general public?

A: In the broadest scale I hope that the Solar Decathlon can once again stimulate the industry to focus on sustainable living that is affordable, efficient and accessible to ordinary people.

How do you like living in Austin?

A: I love living in Austin! I’ve spent almost half my life here and grow fonder of it every year. I can’t wait to see how Austin grows and evolves as a city.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: I have no idea! I could easily still be living in the U.S. or move back to Europe and hunt for jobs there. In an ideal world I would love to work for a detail oriented studio that does both residential and public/commercial projects.

Are you a cat or dog person?

A: Definitely a dog person! But cats are ok too.

What’s your favorite color?

A: Green or blue

Who is your favorite architect?

A: Ah, so many to choose from, though question! If I must choose then it would be between Sean Godsell, Herzog & de Meuron, or Diller Scofidio (each progressively more wild in style).

What is your favorite city that you have been to (thus far)?

A: My favorite has to be Munich. From its sense of place and ease of public transport, to its deep history, quaint streets, and seasonal festivities, Munich instantly feels welcoming. It is one of the few cities where I have been more than a tourist and really got a sense of living there. The tram system alone may be my favorite thing about it!

Where do you want to visit most?

A: I would love to visit Iceland and the Island of Skye in Scotland, the surreal landscape of those regions is raw and immensely beautiful.

Anything else we should know?

A: I enjoy photography and am a big soccer fan (playing and supporting). I love mountains and miss having the beach only 30 minutes away. I appreciate architecture that helps shape public spaces, and I especially enjoy seeing old and new materials juxtaposed against each other.

Aug 27, 2015 by in NexusNews

Comments (One Response)

  1. Mario Portela says:


    Very interesting what you all are doing with this project.

    We are investors in resource efficiency and industrial innovation. We have a start up in te portfolio that would like to speak with the professors / right people on this project. They have an interest in exploring how to leverage this work with their company strategy and establish a partnership with the team.

    Can you please help pointing us in the right direction?

    Kind regards,
    Mario Portela

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