School of Architecture

2005 News

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Wellington Student Wins Top Architecture Prize

rohan collett

Rohan Collett, recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Dulux Student Design Award.

Victoria University of Wellington Bachelor of Architecture student Rohan Collett has won the prestigious New Zealand Institute of Architects Dulux Student Design Award and in the process has earned a $5000 scholarship to further his architectural studies overseas.

A 2005 final year student, Collett conceived an ecologically sensitive Environmental Education Centre for Lake Pearson in Canterbury for his project.

His design places the bulk of the Centre below ground, minimising its impact on the environment and taking advantage of the earth’s insulating abilities to stabilise temperatures all year around and reduce energy requirements and costs.

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Fulbright Honours

rana abboud

Rana Abboud, recipient of a Fullbright Graduate Award.

It is very pleasing to note that of the recently announced nine Fulbright graduate awards for New Zealanders to study at top universities in the United States at Master or PhD level, four were Victoria alumni.

These students will leave for America in July to begin the new US academic year starting in August. Congratulations to: Rana Abboud, originally from Lebanon, who is going to the University of California, Berkeley to do a Master of Architecture, specialising in virtual reality technologies; Keith Bolland, who is going to the New School University in New York to do a PhD in political science, focusing on political leadership theory, political history and political sociology; Alastair Cameron, who is going to New York University to do an LLM, specialising in public international law and comparative constitutional law; and former Salient News Editor, Matthew Nippert, who is going to the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University to do a Master in Journalism, focusing on investigative work, the reporting of government affairs and media commentary.

Fulbright awards in the US are like the Rhodes Scholarships to the UK, being very competitive. They are offered to graduate students who show academic excellence, leadership potential and the ability to be cultural ambassadors for New Zealand.

Four Victoria University graduates are heading to America to carry out postgraduate study after receiving four of the nine Fulbright awards for 2005.

The awards, valued at US$15,000 each, plus return travel to the United States, are for promising graduate students who show academic excellence, leadership potential and the ability to be cultural ambassadors for New Zealand.

Rana Abboud (above), who has a Bachelor of Architecture from Victoria, is going to the University of California at Berkeley to do a Master of Architecture, specialising in virtual reality technologies.

“The internet has gradually incorporated more and more visual graphics - the shift from a text-based medium to a virtual ‘environment’ where information is located is slowly becoming a reality,” says Rana.

“This will have an impact on the design of built architecture and its perception in society. I am interested in the implications of these future online environments on architectural design.”

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Australian Contract

Congratulations to the School of Architecture’s Centre for Building Performance Research which has been awarded the contract to provide training in urban design guidelines for the Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria, Australia. This is a very impressive achievement and testimony to the rapidly growing reputation and capability of the School.

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Unisys Scholarships

unisys scholarship recipients

Te Rōpu Āwhina Pūtaiao (Āwhina) students, from left, Shaun Alaifea, Matthew Thomas, and Stacey Walker recipients of the 2005 Unisys Scholarships in Computer Science.

Te Rōpu Āwhina Pūtaiao (Āwhina) students, Shaun Alaifea, Matthew Thomas, and Stacey Walker have won the 2005 Unisys Scholarships in Computer Science for Māori and Pasifika students.

The scholarships were established in 2003 to support Māori and Pasifika students enrolled in their second year of a computer science degree at Victoria. The students are chosen primarily for their academic achievement, longer-term goals and aspirations and community input.

Anna Bares from Unisys NZ presented the recipients with their cheques. Liz Richardson, Deputy Dean (Equity) for Science, Architecture & Design thanked Unisys NZ for their on-going support that, to date, has benefited nine students. The quality of the relationship has been demonstrated by the recent recruitment of Ben Wilson, a 2003 recipient, into the Unisys NZ graduate programme.

The scholarships provide Shaun, Matthew and Stacey with financial assistance and encouragement and also strengthen Te Rōpu Āwhina Pūtaiao (Āwhina), the Faculties of Science, Architecture & Design whānau support for their Māori and Pacific Nations students.

The scholarships are administered by the Victoria University Foundation.

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30th Birthday for School of Architecture

soa 30th birthday celebrations

Professor Gordon Holden opens the final year exhibition and celebrates the 30th anniverary of the School with student, alumni and guests.

The School of Architecture celebrated its 30th anniversary and the successful completion of another year of academic achievement on Monday, at its annual end of year exhibition.

Guests mingled among the displays of final year architecture and building science student’s work, which will be exhibited at the Te Aro Campus for the next two weeks.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, Head of School, Professor Gordon Holden, and alumni Chris Kelly, director of the award-winning Architecture Workshop spoke during the evening about the achievements of the School over the past 30 years and the opportunities for the graduating class of 2005.

Visitors are encouraged to drop in at the Te Aro Campus to look at the displays, which will be on show until 20 November.

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Research-led Learning and Teaching Case Studies

For Professor Gordon Holden his research not only informs his teaching and acts as a starting point for his students’ own inquiries, but is the springboard for research on teaching in the architectural discipline.

Professor Holden says he particularly uses research-led learning and teaching practices in the fourth year of the Bachelor of Architecture programme, in preparation for the students’ fifth year individual research project.

In a workshop environment, he provides students with copies of research papers he has done and poses questions.

“I explain to students how I have addressed these questions, and I give them time to read my papers. In this setting, everyone must participate. I ask them to give me an initial critical appraisal of my papers. That immediately gives me useful feedback. I’ve never been disappointed – I get good feedback and it is good for them too.”

From this interaction, issues start to emerge and the students are provided with starting points in journals, books and references to find out more, which they then bring back and share. “This is like a traditional literature review exercise. Out of that we start to crystallise key issues.”

From this, the students move on to a more empirical research exercise, for example, examining new apartments on top of existing buildings. “They look at different types, gather all the data, plans, records, go to architects’ offices, building approvals, to document that case. Questions then start to be posed and those are related to the literature review.”

He says the buildings are classified into different types. “The students bring it all into the writing of a ‘performance brief’ for that type of building. That material forms their guidelines for their own project. We went to Tory Street, we walked the length of it, talking about what we now know from the typology. Each student gets a project out of that. We have to negotiate who does what – sometimes three students want the same project.”

He says the students now have a research-based brief that forms the basis for the evaluation of the performance of what they decide to design.

“I then work with them in studio as their design is unfolding. They reach a point, inevitably, of competing demands. The arguments for one or the other might have equal merit. It then depends on the theoretical and intellectual position that person takes – this emerges as an important part of architecture.”

He says he reviews the work as it progresses, drawing the students back to the performance criteria so that by the time they present it towards the end of the course, it is a of a high standard and is based in empirical work, a literature review and the relevant theory.

Professor Holden also sees a key role for academics doing research on their own teaching and on the learning of their students – also known as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – and has recently had a paper double-blind reviewed and accepted for a forthcoming conference.

“In architecture, we’ve been deeply involved in critical reflective practice, an aspect of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for quite some time. We were slightly bemused when other disciplines started to discover what we were steeped in – though we didn’t call it that then. We’d been doing reflective practice in studios in our discipline for half a century.”

As Head of School, he encourages staff to adopt Research-led Learning and Teaching by example. “I put it out there: ‘Look, I’ve got two papers out of this studio course.’ We talk about these approaches in staff meetings, at our research retreats and more and more staff are doing it with increasingly higher degrees of rigour. They read more of the educational literature, and then set higher goals and expectations for themselves.”

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Third year Landscape Architecture students recently completed a major project in their Urban Landscape Construction course in which they were challenged to design a landscape of play.

Co-ordinated by Ralph Johns, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, the project was run as an ideas competition designed to generate new concepts and understandings of landscapes of play. The industry partner was Playground People, an innovative company based in Auckland who is developing new ideas for playground equipment. They sponsored the project and awarded a $1000 prize to the best design, with a runners-up prize of $500.

The design of play landscapes requires an understanding of complex areas of expertise such as child development theory, spatial design, industrial processes, and safety legislation. Students researched design precedents, legal contexts, design issues, and play theory; and each student produced a chapter of a design research report.

Students then prepared innovative design concepts that challenged the status quo of play design in New Zealand. Next they further developed and refined their design concepts in terms of materials and construction techniques before finally documenting the overall design as a full set of working drawings.

“The student’s designs were highly creative, original and experimental,” says Ralph.

“Denise Adair’s winning scheme is an innovative interactive soft modular play system which can be installed and used in varied configurations to create changing artificial topographies of play.

“Hugh Smith won the runners-up prize with a site-specific design for a tensile kinetic structure which formed a playful transition between two levels of an urban site. His design reintroduced and element of risk and excitement into the design of public space.

Matthew Clark from Playground People was very pleased with the conceptual and detailed work and believes the student designs “have great potential to be developed”.

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International Design Studio Exhibition

The work of students who visited Japan late last year for an International Design Studio was celebrated at an exhibition at the Te Aro Campus last week.

The International Design Studio 2004 Exhibition was opened on Tuesday last week by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh. The opening was attended by the Japanese Ambassador, HE Masaki Saito, and his wife, Mrs Makiko Saito, and Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast.

The International Design Studio took place in November and December 2004, as part of an initiative by the School of Design to establish an educational and cultural exchange programme in Japan.

The International Design Studio visited Kyoto, and the Kansai region of Japan; and Sakai City, Wellington’s sister city in Japan. The study locations were chosen to offer an intensive introduction to the culture of Japan and research opportunities in the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture and industrial design.

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Success for Landscape Architecture Students

success for landscape students

From left, Nick Jones, Jamie Roberts and Rob Bark.

Victoria landscape architecture students have again been successful in this year’s Ellerslie Flower Show held Auckland’s Regional Botanical Gardens last month.

Landscape Design Programme Director, Robin Simpson, says students studying the Bachelor of Design (Landscape Architecture) in the School of Design were encouraged to enter. Four teams from the Landscape Architecture Programme were selected through an internal competition, with two teams from second year, and one each from third and fourth years.

Ms Simpson says the landscape architecture teams from Victoria dominated the prizes receiving three out of the four awards given either gold, silver or merit awards. The highlight was the Gold award winning scheme Ajar by Jamie Roberts, Nick Jones and Rob Bark, which earned them the Young Designer of the Year Award and an $8000 travelling scholarship. The scholarship is to study garden design in an international location of their choice.

Yanos Fil- Dryden, Mike Davis and Sophie Jacques, with their design, where the wild things are, took the silver award while Bryce Foster, Dan Blazkow and Helen Reynolds received a merit award with their design, The Life Cycle of the Tree Fern. The Victoria team was Hortus Revised, by Kara Berube, Denise Adair and Simon Roberts.

“All the exhibits were a great credit to the University and the international judging panel commended the award winners on the innovative exploration of ideas about landscapes and gardens, drawing on aspects of a number of other disciplines to explore essentially landscape ideas. The School explores this multidisciplinary approach to design with Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Industrial Design and Interior Architecture in the same faculty and building.”

Ajar is under negotiation for purchase by a New Zealand fine arts collector. “This is a great achievement and puts the investigation of ideas and innovation central to Landscape Architecture at Victoria on a national stage.”

A fifth exhibit in the design marquee was designed by Remi Bint, who last year won the Flemings Competition, a paper competition also run at Ellerslie, and represented New Zealand in a built project in Melbourne in May 2005. Remi teamed with fellow third year student Hamish Putt and built a commendable exhibit.

In this competition too, Victoria has had success for the second year in a row as Matt Fraser, an Architecture student taking a Landscape Architecture paper as an elective, won second place in the Flemings Competition this year for his design, La Dolce Vita.