Architect Builds New Life in Australia

Veronica with her husband, Scott, and son, Lucas.

Veronica with her husband, Scott, and son, Lucas.

When Veronica Garcia-Hansen left her home of Argentina for love and adventure nearly a decade ago, she never suspected it would be for good.

Born in Buenos Aires, Veronica grew up in the western Argentinean province of Mendoza. It was there she met and fell in love with her Australian husband, Scott, who was undertaking field work as a geologist.

After receiving a scholarship to complete a PhD in architecture at the Queensland University of Technology, Veronica followed Scott home to Australia in 2001.

‘I came to Australia for my PhD-research career and my love-life career,’ Veronica said with a laugh.

After spending many happy years in Australia and celebrating her marriage to Scott in Noosa, Veronica was thrilled to receive her Australian citizenship on Australia Day 2010.

‘I was surprised at how emotional it was, too, because I thought it would feel like I was just receiving a passport or a piece of paper, but it really was special,’ Veronica said. ‘And now I really can call myself an Australian’.

Despite already having permanent residency in Australia, Veronica said it was important for her to become a citizen.

‘Australia has given me a lot of opportunities. I finished my PhD, got a great job, and now my son, Lucas, is growing up here, too,’ Veronica said.

‘I wanted to become a citizen because both Lucas and my husband are citizens, and I really wanted to feel at home.’

The couple had relocated to London for work in 2006, where Lucas was born, but moved back to Brisbane to give him a better life.

‘We lived in London for Lucas's first year but we thought in the long term it wasn't the best place for a child to grow up and couldn't compare with the opportunities he could have here,’ Veronica said.

‘The weather was terrible and the houses were small. I feel like he can grow up freer in Australia because there's so much space to run around in.’

Veronica's second love, architecture and sustainable design of buildings, has also blossomed while she has lived in Australia. Her research for her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology was instrumental in inventing a system to better capture and transport natural light into the deep interiors of large office buildings. The research was awarded an Asian Innovation award in 2003, and was nominated for the Fresh Innovators national program in 2005. This work has been published in conference papers and had extensive media coverage.

In 2006, Veronica was featured on the TV science program, Catalyst, which she found highly rewarding.

‘It was great. It was nerve-wracking to appear on the show, but if there was one program I wanted to cover my research, that was the program,’ Veronica said.

‘The experience was a great opportunity that brought a lot of attention to our research.’

While Veronica said she still misses her family in Argentina, she's happy starting her new family here.

‘This is my home now. I've got my son and husband here, and it's true that home is where your loved ones are,’ Veronica said.

Veronica Garcia Hansen is a lecturer in the School of Design at Queensland University of Technology.

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