Meet our Architecture students



"I chose to do architecture as I enjoyed being creative and logical at the same time. It seemed like a natural choice for me.

In my first year I learned a lot more than I expected about design and the practicality of designing. It was much deeper thinking than I was used to. We work in open plan, collaborative studio environments which simulates how we will work as professionals. I’ve also spent time in our wood and metal workshops. The technicians are really helpful; they are dedicated to health and safety and teaching you how to use all the tools and materials correctly to produce your work.

I've been on a study trip to Spain and Portugal, where we presented our work to one of the biggest offices in the world. That exposure to international architects, and getting their feedback, was invaluable. We are also given opportunities to interact with the local industry through the lecture series the School of Architecture and Planning host.

Architecture is about finding creative solutions to things. If you enjoy being creative and problem solving, and you're committed to working hard, I think you should definitely pursue architecture. I definitely want to become a practicing architect, however I’d also like to explore academia. My options are open, but I like the direction I’m heading in."

Lusitania Vete has just completed her third year of the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) degree and is moving into the Master of Architecture (Professional) programme.

Isaac Sweetapple

Isaac Sweetapple

"Architecture isn’t something which is covered at school, so I spent a lot of time researching what it would be like, and found it to be a really good interface between reality and imagination. I’m finding each semester there is something different which captivates me. The courses weaves in other disciplines as well, like urban design, history and heritage conservation.

"I’m from Napier and while I looked at other architecture schools, I felt like I’d probably be most likely to find a job in Auckland after my studies. Coming to the University of Auckland has given me the opportunity to get to know the city and begin networking with potential employers. The interaction with industry is really good; the names who have critiqued my work are quite big. It’s very possible you could see your future boss in the hallways.

"Friends who have done study tours overseas tell me that we don’t know how lucky we are with our resources here. I’ve had the chance to make use of the equipment in the workshops, like the robots and welding bay, and the faculty libraries. It’s great to have access to other libraries in the faculty too; I often get books out of the Elam library to assist with projects.

"Talk to other people who have done architecture and ask them questions. Do your research. Find your interest – it could be the science, engineering or artistic aspect of the discipline – and you’ll really enjoy it."

Isaac Sweetapple has just completed his third year of the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) and is moving into the Master of Architecture (Professional) (MArch(Prof)) programme


Surita Manoa

‟The University of Auckland was the right choice for me because the School of Architecture and Planning has a strong standing internationally. I also like Auckland’s approach to architectural study. We get a real mix. We’re given full rein to design in a very creative way, but that’s balanced by technical classes where we learn about building construction. We also study architectural history. I like that varied approach.

For instance, I really enjoyed a design paper this year that combined creativity with practicality and work experience. Our site was on Quail Island in Christchurch. We got to do a site visit and also spend time at our tutor’s firm in Lyttelton. Through these sorts of projects we gain knowledge from people in the field as well as building professional connections.

Studying at Auckland has been a great social experience too. Architecture is a tight-knit school. I’ve been able to meet so many people who love what I love – both in my studies and in my sporting life. As well as playing tennis, I’ve been fortunate enough to represent the University in inter-tertiary volleyball nationals.

The support offered by the University has been great. I won a University of Auckland Chancellor’s Award for top Māori and Pacific Scholars. This has helped me to fund materials for my projects. I’ve also been involved in Tuākana, a support programme for Māori and Pacific students, first as a mentee and now a mentor. I’ve gained a lot from Tuākana, and it’s offered me an opportunity to give back. As well as that, the programme has been another opportunity for me to meet people outside of my faculty.”

Surita is currently in her third year of her Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS).


Dominic Wilson

"I found that architecture seemed to fit my interests. It is such an all-encompassing subject; you can take it in almost any direction and focus on whatever interests you. A lot of people come into architecture only wanting to draw and build things, but you get a much deeper understanding of the subject from engaging with the theory as well. I really enjoy the academic side of it. The lecturers all have a specific focus area, and the huge diversity within the school creates a more rounded experience.

There’s a nice little community within the school. The open studios mean you collaborate and see each other’s work, and ideas cross-pollinate. You get to know the students from other years and they assist in classes and studio projects. It is quite tight knit.

The cliché is true: you get out what you put in. I have worked on projects with practicing architects and also project managed our CityUps structure in Christchurch. There have been some long hours involved, but they were very beneficial and rewarding experiences.”

Dominic Wilson completed his Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) and is now working towards his Master of Architecture (March(Prof)) programme.

Urban Design

Matilda Phillips

Matilda Phillips

“Architecture and urban design engage really well with each other. Architecture looks at the design of an individual built object and how it interacts with its immediate surroundings, while urban design takes a step back and designs the way the built form relates to its greater context and public space.

“Not much attention is being paid to architecture in the Pacific, which is why we are seeing poorly designed buildings (the majority of which are aid buildings) being built. These buildings are shaping our urban environment and are completely removed from their context. My research looks into Pacific regionalism, and lack thereof, analysing both the individual buildings and the urban context and history.

“I hope to come up with a ‘type’ of architectural form that will take into consideration its whole context and provide a first step towards an appropriate regionalist style for the Pacific. Through this project, I will be able to give something tangible back to my parents, who sacrifice for me to be here, and to my homeland (Samoa) that will contribute to the preservation of our culture and enhance appreciation of our architectural history and built environment.

“The studio environment at the University allows me to work alongside and learn from other brilliant students. Architecture is demanding and requires a high level of commitment so the environment we spend most of our time in needs to be healthy and enjoyable. The facilities are a fantastic asset and the teaching staff are very approachable, always willing to help and play a big part in creating the quality of the course.” 

Matilda is studying a combined Master of Architecture (Professional) and Urban Design. 

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Sam Foster

“I’ve had some exposure to urban design through my work, and I was keen to develop myself in that area.

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland, and urban design has interested me since I started working in planning. I’ve always found the way people use places and spaces interesting and urban design as a discipline works well with urban planning.

Last year a group of us travelled to Sydney and Melbourne, giving us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, due to the sheer size of those cities. We toured various development sites, and visited the University of New South Wales to meet with lecturers there.

For the research component of the degree, I examined the growth strategies of Auckland and Sydney, comparing how the two cities aimed to deliver these aspirations whilst achieving good urban design through the use of urban design guides. By focusing on guidelines for high density development, I was able to explore the level of certainty of these outcomes being delivered. That was a good way to thread my planning and policy analysis into urban design. I’m now looking forward to developing a hands-on skillset through our design studio this year.

My thinking has changed since my undergraduate degree, now I’ve had real world experience. You have a different level of knowledge and interaction with your lecturers. Part-time postgraduate study on top of full-time work is a lot to juggle, but I have great support from my employer.”

Sam Foster is completing a Master of Urban Design (MUrbDes) part-time whilst working as an urban planner.