School of Architecture

2007 News

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Architectural Icons on Show at Victoria

The Faculty of Architecture and Design hosted the exhibition, Neues Bauen International 1927/2002, which was presented by Germany’s Institute for Cultural Relations in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut of Wellington.

“Neues Bauen International 1927/2002 is based on an exhibition that originally showed in Stuttgart in Germany in 1927 and then toured through 17 European cities. Architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, J.J.P. Oud and Frank Lloyd Wright played pivotal roles in radically shifting the focus of architecture and the influence of their modernist work and designs can still be felt in modern urban landscapes.”

Professor Holden said a highlight of the opening would be a guest lecture by the exhibition curator, Professor Karin Kirsch, of the Technical University of Stuttgart.

"Seventy-five years after the first exhibition, Professor Kirsch’s exhibition shows us vividly how these architects and their buildings have retained their significance in architectural history and it will be fascinating to hear first hand his views on how they are seen today and how their work was viewed in the early 20th Century."

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Architecture Competition a Winner

A competition run by the Department of Conservation (DoC) in association with Victoria University's School of Architecture proved to be a winner for all involved.

Victoria third-year architecture student Peter Mora's concept for a new shelter at the McKinnon Pass in Fiordland National Park will be developed, following DoC's competition challenging Victoria design students to replace the cold, damp existing shelter.

The Department had made replacing the shelter a priority for 2007, due to extensive renovations required. The decision to replace it was made several years ago by Southland Conservancy in conjunction with stakeholders in the Milford Track.

In March, a brief of specific requirements was sent to Simone Medio, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design. The design for the shelter – used as a day shelter by about 90 people – had to be environmentally sound, durable, easy to replace, able to cope with extreme weather conditions, and be easy to construct. Fourteen students entered designs.

Warren Biggs, Contract and Project Manager for DoC, says the project has so far been a success. "DoC felt that working together with a prestigious tertiary establishment, to design a concept from which the shelter would be produced, would bring significant benefits to both parties - and this has proved to be the case."

Winner Peter Mora said the competition was a fascinating exercise. "The design brief presented many interesting architectural constraints and challenges, and it took a lot of consideration to provide an appropriate solution to those.

"I'm delighted to have won. To be able to enter into such a competition was a fantastic opportunity and it was great that DoC presented this opportunity to students."

Construction of the shelter is likely to take place over the next 12 months.

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A River of Fire for Rome's Solstice Celebrations

July 2007

Tevereterno (The Eternal Tiber) blazed from sunset to midnight between the Sisto and Mazzini Bridges to the accompaniment of contemporary percussion compositions and electro-acoustic sounds.

On 22 June the Tiber River in central Rome glowed with the radiance of 3000 candles at the heart of an installation designed by Victoria University lecturer Associate Professor Daniel Brown for the city's Midsummer Solstice Festival.

With co-artist Kristin Jones (New York) and the help of 300 international students, Dr Brown floated a chain of 1000 candles down the centre of the river, and displayed the remaining 2000 on the river’s banks. Further intensifying the beauty of the installation, the half kilometre of little flames shifted in a serpentine motion as the student volunteers pulled the lines of floating candles.

Commissioned by the City of Rome, Tevereterno (The Eternal Tiber) blazed from sunset to midnight between the Sisto and Mazzini Bridges to the accompaniment of contemporary percussion compositions and electro-acoustic sounds.

Dr Brown says the snaking river of fire was designed in homage to the Tiber River, often referred to in Italian as “the blonde serpent”.

“Symbolically the project was about extending the light on the longest day of the year until the start of the new day, encouraging the daylight to last forever,” Dr Brown says.

“I was particularly mindful, having just arrived in Rome from Wellington’s winter, that it was the shortest day of the year in Wellington and the longest day of the year in Rome. And so for me, extending the light of day became even more poignant! ”

The annual event draws thousands of spectators and visitors to the banks of the Tiber River in the historical centre of Rome on the night of the summer solstice. It was conceived in 2005 by the Tevereterno Association in conjunction with the City of Rome, the Rome Urban Council, and the Rome Historical Ministry to revitalise public engagement with the Tiber River and to bring international artists together with Italian composers.

Dr Brown says the event was established to stimulate dialogue between nature and urban space, the historic and the present, the European and the international.

“The idea was to create a piece of art at an urban scale in the very heart of Rome. It is a unique project for me both in terms of its scale and because it was so temporal, lasting only twelve hours.”

He says the biggest logistical problem lay with the river – at midsummer it is low and particularly fast, creating considerable drag on the half-kilometre chain. Then there were the logistics of lighting 3000 candles.

“The candles are the same style used two thousand years ago in ancient Rome and made using the same traditional processes. The wicks are quite thick and once they are lit they are virtually impossible to extinguish. Lighting each one with a traditional match or lighter could take up to 15 minutes per candle and for this reason the water police and fire department in Rome agreed to donate boats and their expertise to help light the candles using special torches. ”

At last year’s Tevereterno, Dr Brown and Victoria design lecturer Erika Kruger projected digital animations onto the 12m high walls of the Tiber River in homage to the She-wolf and the birth of Rome. Five students from the University’s Faculty of Architecture and Design travelled to Italy to assist with the installation.

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Second Life

Not content with inhabiting just one world, a group of Victoria University architecture students and recent graduates are taking on the biggest-ever virtual land grab.

The group is organising CtrlShift07, the Biennial Pacific Students of Architecture Congress 2007, which is also running a competition within the virtual community, Second Life, that will encourage students to hone their design skills.

The design competition is intended to investigate current and future uses of online 3D first-person environments as they relate to architectural design and design education. Participants beat the rush to choose a preferred spot of ‘land’ and design a building to go on it.

The Congress itself, running from 1 July to 6 July, is significantly supported by Victoria University, and is an active collaboration of 225 Pacific students, 25 professionals, 15 specialist leaders and speakers, and 20 mentors from around the world.

CtrlShift07 committee member and Victoria alumnus, Barnaby Bennett, says the support from Victoria for the congress has been much appreciated.

“It's great that the University is getting involved. This student congress will allow us to have exciting discussion about contemporary architecture with people from all over the world. We hope it will 'update' architectural thinking in Australasia.”

The competition begins on 21 May. Entered designs are judged in two phases by two separate juries in June and July. The judges include: NASA Learning Technologies Project co-ordinator, Daniel Laughlin; Victoria alumnus and executive architect of the Sagrada Familia and professor of innovation at RMIT, Professor Mark Burry; and Victoria Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of the School of Architecture, Dr Henry Skates. The winner will receive a free island within Second Life, valued at $US 2,575, including three months’ maintenance.

Dr Skates said the competition was another way of allowing students to practice the principles of architecture.

"Architects were early adopters of information technology to enhance the designs of buildings. Using the Second Life platform to run the competition provides the students with an opportunity to put the knowledge they have gained into practice."

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Building Research Project Awards

Congratulations to Jessica Bennett, Matthew Colson and Richard Watt, honours students in the School of Architecture and Design and recipients of Building Research Project Awards. Jessica, Matthew and Richard are studying natural ventilation and apartment design, environmental performance of corporate and institutional buildings, and quality assurance in thermal simulation, respectively.

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Victoria Graduates Recognised as Top Achievers

Three Victoria University graduates have won funding worth almost $600,000 in the Tertiary Education Commission's Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships announced today.

Matthew French and Jason Varuhas, both studying at the University of Cambridge in Britain, were awarded the two largest grants. Jason was awarded $247,230 and will be looking at 'Damages for human rights breaches', while Matthew was awarded $246,978 for his research on 'The influence of bioclimatic architectural principles in the morphology of contemporary Latin American urban informal settlements'. Adrian Jongenelen is studying at Victoria, and has been awarded $100,044 to study 'Development of a compact, portable, real-time range imaging system'.

Almost $3 million was awarded to postgraduate students throughout the country in this round of funding.

Victoria's Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Charles Daugherty, says the announcement of the scholarships shows the level of achievement of Victoria graduates.

"Victoria aims to instil in its students skills of leadership, creative and critical thinking, and communication. We're delighted that these students have been recognised by TEC and that they have this opportunity to contribute to the pool of knowledge in their chosen disciplines."

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NZIA Dulux Travel Award

jun tsujimoto

Jun Tsujimoto recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Dulux Travel Design Award.

Jun Tsujimoto was awarded the 2007 New Zealand Institute of Architects - Dulux Travel Design Award for his design of an urban monastry and bath-house.

The project was a vehicle for his deep and thorough engagement with many important aspects of architecture, some of which have been somewhat neglected in the designed and built environment.

He explored bodily experience, cultural and social aspects as well as surface.

The judges considered his thoughtful work to be exciting demonstration of capabilities of the emerging generation of graduates that will set challenging benchmarks for practicising architects.

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Waste Not, Want Not - Making Materials from Waste

September 2007

waste not want not

Nandor Tanczos opening the Closing the Loops – Making Materials from Waste Exhibition.

The environmental issues of waste-reduction and sustainability in the building industry have been given a twist in an exhibition by students of the University's School of Architecture.

Opened by Member of Parliament Nandor Tanczos on 5 September, Closing the Loops – Making Materials from Waste showcases student work from the Sustainable Architecture course. The exhibition addresses building sustainability issues with a focus on plasterboard, plastics, tyre waste, glass and timber off-cuts – problem wastes identified by local councils and waste minimisation organisations.

Course co-ordinator Maibritt Pedersen Zari says only very small amounts of building materials from demolition are reused or recycled in New Zealand.

"One way to improve the sustainability of the industry is to use waste products as raw material in the production of new materials, effectively challenging the very concept of ‘waste’."

She says resource conservation in architecture is already a global issue, with construction and demolition waste constituting approximately 30-50 percent of solid waste in some countries.

The event was an opportunity for professionals interested in environmental issues and the built environment to come together and see innovative work produced by more than 50 students from architecture, design, building science, environmental science and arts backgrounds.

Closing the Loops is on show in the main atrium of the Schools of Architecture and Design from 5 September until 12 September from 8.30am to 5.30pm. The exhibition is supported by Winstone Wallboards and by the Waste Management Institute of New Zealand.

More information about the projects and examples of previous years' exhibitions can be viewed here.

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Benson-Cooper Sustainability Design Awards

August 2007

In 2007 the School of Architecture, in conjunction with Lex and Margit Benson-Cooper of Napier, ran the inaugural Design for Sustainability competition in the Faculty of Architecture and Design at Victoria University of Wellington.

The competition explores the potential of creative design and technical expertise to create solutions for sustainability. It is open to all students at Victoria University of Wellington with finalists selected by Faculty of Architecture and Design staff.

The 2007 judging panel was Associate Professor Penny Allan, Lex and Margit Benson-Cooper, Professor Gordon Holden, Graeme McIndoe and Associate Professor John Storey. The winners of the Benson-Cooper Sustainability Design Awards for 2007 were presented at the 'Closing the Loops' function held at the beginning of August 2008.

The Supreme Award worth $3,000 went to Scott McKenzie for his work Pohe Island Environmental Centre which Integrated technologies. Program re-inhabiting a redundant landfill site, and using it for educational purposes. Integration of sustainable ideas throughout, in a project displaying an accomplished level of architectural resolution.

Three excellence awards worth $1,000 each went to Stephen Gueze for his design Corn Cob Heavy Metal Filter, Delle Benton for her re-design of the Upper Hutt Community Library and Nick Jones for his work xyt: A socially and environmentally sustainable strategy for sea-level rise adaptation at Wellington’s Lyall Bay.

Six merit awards worth $100 each went to Holly Beals for her Bio Lamp, Fran Loader's Link between City and Sea, Paul McArdle work In-between Earth and Sky, Sarah Park's work Retreat for Geologist and Astronomer, Simon Stantiall's work re: Cycling, the Wellington connection and James Roberts for his work Nubukalau.

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Architects of the Future Display Their Work

Innovative works from New Zealand’s future building industry professionals will be on display at the Te Aro campus from 8 to 17 November 2007.

The end-of-year exhibition at the School of Architecture will feature projects of final-year students from Architecture, Building Science, Landscape and Interior Architecture programmes. On display will be four projects selected to compete in the national Dulux New Zealand Institute of Architects Award for 2007. The designers of these schemes will compete against the best work from New Zealand’s other architecture schools later this month. Highlights include:

Sarah-Jo Barley: Museum of Boys. The project transforms Shelley Bay Army Base Camp into a youth hostel that challenges the negative influences of our society that are prevalent in the youth of today.

Alain Bruner’s Resurrection of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA). The project resurrects a redundant NZIA through a contemporary reading of John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture.

Diana Chaney’s development of a pilot project between Archives New Zealand and the Wellington City Council – a creation of a reconfiguration of archive such that relationships between the value of both archival and architectural surfaces are determined by contested use, contaminated through the scars and smudges of a multiplicity of use and meaning.

Nick Jones: Patea: the town shut down, Patea, Taranaki, NZ. As part of a revitalising strategy, the project mediates heritage importance and visitor experience with local needs and perspectives.

How can the necessary demolition and decontamination of the freezing works inform a non-museological ‘preservation’ and re-use of a site?

People are invited to visit the exhibition at the School of Architecture, 139 Vivian Street. The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5pm between 8 and 17 November 2007. Entry is free.

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New Zealand Postgraduate Study Abroad Awards

March 2007

nz postgraduate study abroad awards

Recipient of the New Zealand Postgraduate Study Aboard Award.

Funded by the New Zealand Government. Administered by Education New Zealand.

With the financial assistance of a New Zealand Postgraduate Study Abroad Award, I was able to present a paper on my research-in-progress at the 2006 Annual SIGraDi (Sociedad Iberoamericana de Gráfica Digital) Conference, held from 21st – 23rd November at the University of Chile, Santiago, Chile. This was an extremely valuable experience and a wonderful opportunity that I would not have had without the NZPSAA.

My Building Science Masters research investigates the value of 3 dimensional, interactive, multilayered models in enhancing the delivery of information to multiple end user groups within the Urban Planning industry, when compared with traditional 2 dimensional methods. In partnership with Terralink International Limited, the research presents a real life prototype model to a number of focus groups of potential end users, to identify how a successful 3D digital tool could improve the speed in which they make every day decisions, whilst also enhancing their understanding of the geographic and building information.

The conference allowed me to report my progress and receive feedback on my methodologies thus far (9 months into the 18 month research) from an international audience of students, researchers, academics and specialists. The paper I presented addressed a number of issues which formed the development of a clear and systematic methodology. I was able to show the audience a visual example of the type of tool I proposed to use for the research and gather feedback from a wide range of professional and experienced people.

I was very fortunate to have the pleasure of meeting and listening to a lecture by Keynote speaker, Professor Michael Batty, Director of the University College of London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) organisation. Dr Batty gave a truly fascinating talk about the incredible speed in the development of digital city models over the past few years, particularly focussing on one of CASA’s most developed practical research projects – Virtual London, which formed a strong precedent for the original development of my research during my Honours programme in 2005.

Virtual London is a representation of a range of digital information. The 3D model extends some 2,000km and manifests itself as a collection of buildings, terrain and imagery, with the main focus being the communication of the various overlaid information sets which populate the model to different audiences.

The model is built up from a number of layers. LIDAR (Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) techniques, which measure heights and distances by use of laser pulses, from aircraft in this case, are used to gather terrain and building information about the city. The terrain information is converted into a DEM (Digital Elevation Model) and then textured by draping high resolution aerial imagery over the model. Land parcel information about the buildings on each site is used to extrude the collected LIDAR data in the third dimension, creating solid blocks representing the average heights of the different buildings throughout the city. This forms the basic model, which at November 23 2006 consisted of 3,601,392 individual land parcels, buildings and objects, which can be turned on and off in any combination due to the additional GIS data associated with each item. For example, buildings newer than 1950 can be turned off, along with buildings lower than 30m, thus showing all the buildings higher than 30m that were built before 1950. The model can then be populated with a wide variety of additional information relating to the attributes and activities of the streets and buildings of London. One major advantage to the digital model is that data can be added relatively easily to represent past, present or even predicted information. Two such examples include the potential effect of the River Thames rising 10m, should the Greenland ice caps melt; and the display of real time air pollution data collected from sensors around the city streets, which shows the impact of nitrogen dioxide build-up, particularly around intersections, bridges and tunnels during peak time traffic.