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Neighbourly high-rise design wins student award

Media Release – for immediate release

1 December 2009

Neighbourly high-rise design wins New Zealand Institute of Architects Graphisoft Student Design Award 2009

A design for a ‘neighbourly’ high-rise apartment building has won Simon Harrison the New Zealand Institute of Architects Graphisoft Student Design Award 2009

Simon, 33, who studied at Victoria University of Wellington, fought off strong competition from fellow finalists from the country’s three schools of architecture, to take the title of New Zealand’s top architecture student for his final-year project.

The scheme, Urban Neighbours, included design measures and community spaces built into a high-rise high-density apartment building to encourage the formation of a genuine neighbourhood and diverse community.

Jurors praised it as “a compelling investigation of physical, social and commercial aspects of architecture” that excelled on multiple levels.

Simon, who has worked part-time as a care worker to support his studies, said he was “really happy” to have won and his prize of $5000 – plus a trip to Sydney to meet architects there – would help further his research into high-density urban environments.

Sebastian Hamilton and Barrington Gohns of Auckland won the two Highly Commended Awards of trips to Sydney for a joint project that dominated their lives for a year.

The pair, who studied architecture at the University of Auckland, moved out of their respective flats and rented a former art gallery in the basement of a warehouse to house the 10m by 7.5m working model they built for the highly interactive scheme, which explores sensory engagement.

“It didn’t even have bedrooms – just a gallery, kitchen and bathroom and the project took up all the space so we made partitions and slept in very small areas,” said Sebastian.

The award, held annually since 2002 by the NZIA, showcases and acknowledges design excellence in students of architecture.

Four finalists from each of New Zealand’s three schools of architecture are selected, based on a design project undertaken by all the students in their fifth year of study.

Throughout a two day exhibition of their work, finalists outlined their projects to and were questioned by a panel of leading architects comprising NZIA President Richard Harris of Jasmax, Dr Kirsten Orr, senior lecturer and associate head of the School of Architecture University of Technology, Sydney, and Thom Craig of Thom Craig Architects Associates.

All finalists were all also presented with an additional prize of an ArchiCAD architectural design software starter pack worth $2,500, by Campbell Yule, managing director of awards sponsor Graphisoft New Zealand

Finalist projects included a folding portable shelter for use in disaster zones, designed by Callum Dowie, 31, of Auckland, who studied at Unitec.

The spacious plywood and polystyrene structure, with walls and roof made of structured insulated panels, comes in hinged sections, which can be stored flat, transported easily and put up by just four people in under two hours.

“It could be of use anywhere in the world from a tsunami in the Pacific to an earthquake in New Zealand,” said Callum. “There is a possibility that it will be used as part of a temporary school in Samoa.”

Jayshree Magan, who designed three ecological laboratories, and her cousin Alisha Patel who designed an underground crematorium, found themselves competing against one another. Both are 23 and studied at Unitec.

Fellow Unitec student Elisabeth Tryland, 26, was also a finalist with her plans for a theatre complex for Albert Park.

University of Auckland finalists also included John Hawkins, 32, from Grey Lynn, with a design for a genetic engineering facility for New Zealand, and Lyannie Tran, from Howick, with a scheme for a high school set over four sites.

VUW finalists included Daniel Davis, 22, who broke new ground in architecture with his project Evolving Digital Morphogenesis, which uses an economic process known as Pareto Optimisation.

Frances Vessey, 24, presented a design for a motel which explores the similarities between the way architecture is represented and experienced and the way it is designed and viewed. Charlotte Hoare, 23, designed a new conference centre and plaza for central Wellington.

The New Zealand Institute of Architects and Graphisoft also provides prizes to the three schools architecture to present to students in the early years of their five-year degree.


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