Top students create visionary designs

Press Release – New Zealand Institute of Architects

Roger Wilson is the 2011 winner of the annual design competition contested by the top four final year students from each of New Zealand’s three architecture schools, those at the University of Auckland, Unitec, and Victoria University of Wellington.14 December 2011

Top students create visionary designs

Roger Wilson is the 2011 winner of the annual design competition contested by the top four final year students from each of New Zealand’s three architecture schools, those at the University of Auckland, Unitec, and Victoria University of Wellington.

Twenty-three year old Wilson, from Victoria University, won the NZIA Graphisoft Student Design Award with his scheme for a revived township at Denniston, an historic West Coast mining settlement.

The Award judges, New Zealand Institute of Architects president Patrick Clifford, Queenstown architect Bronwen Kerr, and Monash University, Melbourne, architecture professor Nigel Bertram, said Wilson had created “an utterly engaging and evocative world”.

“The reconstituted town of Denniston is an innovative and original proposal,” the judges said. “We’d like to go to this town – at least for a visit.”

The judges said Wilson’s entry benefitted from extensive research, including a week-long visit to the Denniston Plateau. His competition victory will enable him to travel further afield – the Student Design Award carries a prize of $5,000, which he says may fund a trip to Paris, where he spent a year in the course of his architecture studies.

But first, Wilson will benefit from another of the Award prizes, a trip to Sydney to meet some of the city’s leading architects. He will be joined by the two students whose entries were Highly Commended, Unitec’s Erxin Shang and the University of Auckland’s Min Tian.

The Award judges said Shang’s design for an architecture school in Auckland’s Town Hall precinct is a “highly resolved and articulate urban contribution”. Tian’s proposal for a haven for honeybees sited above a Shanghai freeway was described as “an engaging and plausible contemporary scenario which deals with both urban and environmental issues”.

Awards juror Patrick Clifford admitted the variety of the students’ entries and the high quality of the students’ work made judging a difficult task.

“I know judges always say this”, Clifford said. “But in this case it was certainly true. We were very impressed by the imagination expressed in the entries and by the sophisticated presentation of many of the students.”

“Some entries were so proficient, and the futures they proposed so foreign, that they were slightly unnerving, but speaking as a New Zealand architect, I’m very pleased the outlook for the profession looks so promising.”

The environmental concern expressed in several entries received “beautiful and evocative” treatment from University of Auckland student Yunwei Xu, who presented scenarios for human habitation in the Franz Josef region following a man-made ecological crisis.

Among the entries praised by the judges were a “well researched, innovative and beautifully presented” proposal for a temporary structure for Maori performance arts presented by Raukura Turei of the University of Auckland, and an “exquisite, highly crafted and novel” scheme for a Helen Clark Memorial Library, by Jessica Mentis, also of the University of Auckland.

Urban themes also figured in several entries. Sophie Hamer of Victoria University reworked Wellington’s Post Office Square as a place to engage the public in architecture, and her classmate Te Ari Prendergast envisaged a Maori carving school on a site in the Christchurch Red Zone, while Unitec’s Nick Adams proposed a shipyard for Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

Architecture’s relationship to other design disciplines was exemplified in the entry of Victoria University’s Ashton Wright, who devised a prefabricated construction system for New Zealand school buildings. The classrooms could by customised by designers, and teachers and children, by drawing on a suite of apps offering numerous material options.

The 12 finalists in the 2011 NZIA Graphisoft Student Design Awards were:

Nick Adams, Department of Architecture, Unitec
Tess Fenwick, Department of Architecture, Unitec
Sophie Hamer, School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington
Jessica Mentis, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland
Warren Nicholson, Department of Architecture, Unitec
Te Ari Prendergast, School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington
Erxin Shang, Department of Architecture, Unitec (Highly Commended)
Min Tian, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland (Highly Commended)
Raukura Turei, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland
Roger Wilson, School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington (2011 NZIA Graphisoft Design Award)
Ashton Wright, School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington
Yunwei Xu, School of Architecture and Planning, University of Auckland

ENDS

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