School of Architecture

2008 News

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New Zealand Institute of Architects Graphisoft Student Design Awards

November 2008

andrew just

Andrew Just, finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Graphisoft Student Design Awards.

Each year since 2002, the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) has offered an award to showcase and acknowledge design excellence in students of architecture.

At Year Five, four finalists from each of the three schools of architecture: University of Auckland, UNITEC New Zealand and Victoria University of Wellington, are selected based on a design project undertaken by all students of architecture in their fifth year of study.

Each of the twelve finalists present their work to a panel of Judges who then assess each project and determine the top student of architecture in New Zealand and recipient of a $5,000.00 scholarship. Two Highly Recommended Prizes are also given. To be selected as the top student is an outstanding achievement. The NZIA Graphisoft Student Design Award recognises that level of achievement and signals to the profession, the industry and the public that a major talent has been discovered.

andrew banks

Andrew Banks, finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Graphisoft Student Design Awards.

In 2008, the NZIA Graphisoft Award became part of an expanded awards programme. The top student at each school in years 1-4 will receive a prize.

In addition there will be three other prizes of $500.00 for each school in each of these years. These prizes will be presented at the Universities’ own prizegiving ceremonies. The Student Design Award is proudly sponsored by Graphisoft New Zealand.

ari stevens

Ari Stevens, finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Graphisoft Student Design Awards.

The students work was assessed in late November by a panel of judges Sue Hillery, Dr Gevork Hartoonian and Richard Harris.

Richard Harris, Head Juror says, "Overall we have seen lots of areas of talent over the past two days. All the finalists' projects were well resolved and there were very high standards of drawing and model making. The winners, however, stood out in terms of programme and exploration of site and context and we were struck by the overall winner's real sense of passion for their project."

ruwan fernando

Ruwan Fernando, finalist in the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Graphisoft Student Design Awards.

"The jury was please to see the number of projects involving urban context but would encourage schools to promote deeper investigation and engagement with what architecture is doing within the community. Perhaps it is time to consider the use of mock urban design panels in schools."

The NZIA Graphisoft Student Design Award was awarded to Auckland University student Sarosh Mulla, highly commended prizes went to Andrew Banks of Victoria University and Clinton Weaver of UNITEC.

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Outstanding Design Works on Display

November 2008

The work of New Zealand's future architects and designers was recently exhibited at Victoria University's School of Architecture annual end of year exhibition.

mark southcombe and andrew banks  marth southcombe and andrew just

Highlights included award winning interior architecture student Nazia Kachwalla's final year project and four projects selected to compete in the New Zealand Institute of Architecture 2008 Graphisoft Student Awards.

mark southcombe and ari stevens  mark southcombe and ruwan fernando

The end-of-year exhibition held at Te Aro Campus features projects by final year students from architecture, building science, interior architecture and landscape architecture programmes.

Professor Gordon Holden, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Design, says final year portfolios mark a milestone for students. "They represent five years of excellence in learning and research, building technical skills and exploring their creativity. I am confident these graduates will go on to achieve successes in their respective fields and be valued in the architecture and design industries."

Final year projects by New Zealand Institute of Architects Graphisoft Student Design Award finalists Andrew Banks, Andrew Just, Ari Stevens and Ruwan Fernando were displayed and are to compete in the annual competition held at the end of November in Auckland.

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Gold Best Award to Interior Architecture Student

November 2008

At the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) Best Awards 2008, fourth-year student Nazia Kachwalla, from the Interior Architecture programme, received a top gold award in Spatial Design – Student category and $500 in prize money.

The design challenge of her Trimester 1 Studio was to facilitate the New Zealand School of Music in infiltrating the buildings surrounding the Civic Square in Wellington. Her design used interior architecture to provoke an active relationship between the University and the city, making room for the public intellectual.

Nazia positioned a ‘music library’ within the existing Wellington City Library building. A multi-functional artefact incorporating vertical circulation, seating/reading areas, LCD touch screen panels with Internet access was the centre piece of the winning project.

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Designing for Disaster

September 2008

designing for disaster

From left, Hester Borren, Abbie Whangapirita and Celia Holmes in front of their award winning design.

In a scene familiar to the citizens of Rio de Janerio a massive landslide has swept left a path of destruction in its wake. The one million residents of the Brazilian city's largest favela (slum), Rocinha, are now in desperate need of shelter.

This is the post-disaster situation that 90 students beginning their second year of architecture studies at Victoria University were confronted with for their first assignment of the year.

The assignment also doubled as an entry into the worldwide I-Rec competition - a competition to find the most effective post-disaster temporary shelter for a developing country suffering from the aftermath from a huge major disaster.

Despite having only three weeks to complete their entries, two groups of students took out the top prize beating fourth year and masters students from universities around the world.

Lecturer Daniele e Lima says the students work went far beyond her expectations. "The students and the course tutors were totally committed to the project and very willing to address the issues that they could make a difference to."

designing for disaster

A render of the Colourful Black Box.

She believes it was the students' holistic and well thought-out approach to the scenario that warranted the top spot.

"They realised that their design was not only about building and construction of a shelter but about environmental and societal needs of the favelas, and developing something that would make a difference to people for the better."

Students' designs needed to be cheap, easy to build quickly and use materials abundant in the area.

The winning designs were the 'Colourful Black Box', a storage box for the urban poor to keep their treasured and hard-earned possessions safe and retrievable after a disaster and an emergency shelter made from locally available resources sourced and built by the community.

The judging panel commented that the Colourful Black Box was awarded for its “originality… understanding of local social conditions and for its profound empathy and understanding of informal urban dwellers’ key concerns". The emergency shelter was commended for its "contextual sensitivity, the modularity, flexibility and upgradeability of the solution proposed".

Architecture students Hester Borren, Celia Holmes, Abbie Whangapirita and Hayley Wright designed the Colourful Black Box. Duncan Scott, Jacob Whitehead and Jalin Young designed the emergency shelter.

The competition was part of the biannual I-Rec conference, held in Christchurch last month. The students' entries were exhibited at the conference, and will be sent to the University of Montreal in Canada for an exhibition from 23-25 October.

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Going Green Gets Gold

September 2008

Transforming a disused landfill into a vibrant environmental education centre has been judged supreme winner of the inaugural Benson-Cooper Design for Sustainability Awards at Victoria University. Supreme award winner Scott McKenzie designed the centre, which included space for local government and community groups, office areas, a lecture theatre for educational activities and a plant nursery to regenerate the neglected island.

Scott is one of 10 students from Victoria University's Faculty of Architecture and Design who will receive prizes this Thursday (4 September) for their work using creative design and technical expertise to advance sustainability.

Other winning concepts included using corn cobs as a heavy metal filter; creating a cycle corridor linking Wellington city’s suburbs and using bioluminescent bacteria as natural lamp.

The inaugural Benson-Cooper Sustainability Awards were established by Lex and Margit Benson-Cooper, of Napier, with Victoria University to support and foster ongoing innovation and future-proofing into good design.

"These awards encourage creative integration and multidisciplinary design for what is an increasingly uncertain future," says lecturer and competition director Graeme McIndoe.

Prizes will be awarded to the students during the opening exhibition of Closing the Loops - a display of innovative materials created from 'waste' by students in Victoria's sustainable architecture course.

The opening and prize giving begin at 6pm on 4 September at the Faculty of Architecture and Design, 139 Vivian Street, Wellington. All are welcome to attend.

Closing the Loops runs from 2-11 September and is supported by Winstone Wallboards, WasteMINZ and the Porirua City Council.

The awards complement the teaching and research Victoria University's Faculty of Architecture and Design is undertaking to reduce the significant impact the built environment has on the ecosystem. The focus is on changing the way buildings, and the larger built environment is planned, designed and constructed. As part of this the Faculty has become carbon neutral through the certified carboNZero programme.

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Lauren Christie Selected to Complete Landcare Research

lauren christie

Lauren Christie, selected to complete Landcare Research with the British Council.

In March, Lauren Christie – PhD candidate at VUW School of Architecture - was selected as one of 10 New Zealand Scientists selected to join a British Council project run in conjunction with Landcare Research (one of five on sustainable consumption there were also five on low impact urban design and development):

“UK and New Zealand scientists researching Sustainable Consumption and Low Impact Urban Design and Development will meet in New Zealand next March as part of a new British Council research project.

“The International Networking for Young Scientists (INYS) project puts scientists in contact with overseas counterparts to promote the creative exchange of ideas. “The two INYS events in March will be staged in conjunction with leading environmental science organisation, Landcare Research. Five and five scientists will be chosen for each event. They will come together for ten days of workshops and social activities in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury, including a retreat at the Landcare Research lodge at Craigieburn.”

At the end of this project there was an opportunity for the NZ candidates to apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to be the one person selected to travel to the UK in late May and early June. Lauren was selected as that person. She will make a presentation at the New Zealand High Commission on World Environment Day and will visit a number of research organisations to make presentations about her research methodology.

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Ben Kepka recipient of Enterprise scholarship to support his Masters thesis studies

Ben Kepka gained his Bachelor of Building Science (Honours) (BBSc[Hons]) degree in 2007. He was recently successful in obtaining an Enterprise scholarship to support his Masters thesis studies. The value of the scholarship is $20,000 per year for a 16 months time frame of a Masters.

The aims of the Enterprise Scholarships are to:

  • signal the value of high-level intellectual skills and abilities and their importance to New Zealand's future
  • assist in focusing research into areas which are likely to help create the knowledge economy of the future and that are relevant to private companies
  • encourage stronger education/company linkages by providing incentives to tertiary education institutions to actively seek stronger alliances with companies
  • increase the supply of highly trained researchers and highly skilled graduates.

Ben is to work with Opus Central Laboratories in their wind tunnel facility at Gracefield. His thesis research is aimed at improving the efficiency and accuracy of flow visualisation methods. The goal is to improve the reporting of wind tunnel studies of the effect of buildings on the wind at pedestrian level in city streets. A scholarship of this type enables a student to work full-time on their Masters. Ben will spend approximately 50% of his time working on his thesis project at Opus, and 50% of his time working at the University.

Ben worked on a research project in his BBSc (Hons) year that systematically explored the accuracy of flow visualisation methodologies in wind tunnels. He is currently working with his supervisor on preparing a journal paper on this work. The Masters is a logical practical development of this honours project.

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Cityscapers by the Throat Winner

daniel davis

Daniel Davis, recipient of the British Council Cityscapers: By the Throat Scholarship.

Rangituhia Hollis (Auckland) and Daniel Davis (Wellington) are the New Zealand winners of the British Council Cityscapers: By the Throat Scholarship. They’ll join sixty other students and practitioners from the UK, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Singapore for a two-week studio at the University of Edinburgh from 31 March to 12 April 2008. This international studio of visual artists, architects, urban planners and designers examines the connections between cities and bodies. They’ll use the merging metropolitan areas of Edinburgh and Glasgow – the neck and throat of the UK - as a means to explore the permeability of public space.

Adept in both physical and digital realms, Dunedin-born Daniel Davis has worked at a macro scale on the multi-billion dollar Calgary Hospital in Canada, as well as getting down to the bits and bytes of coding websites. He believes “Geographic borders have long lost their significance to everyone except the politicians bound to them. With softening intellectual property rights and the explosion of 'crowd sourcing', a new industrial revolution will take place - machines now manage repetitive physical tasks, and soon complex mental tasks will be controlled by computers.”

Daniel helped organize ctrlshift 07, bringing together architecture students from around the Pacific in Wellington, using Second Life as a marketing and communication tool.

Tutor and later employer Jon Thompson recalls “an explosive year of dedication, exploration, and ingenuity” engaging with a student who had “sharp wit, independence, analytical undertones, and brewing decadence”.

Find out what else Daniel has been percolating at

Read more about this article here.