Student projects win top architecture awards

08 December 2017
Lucy Vete and LiWen Choy

University of Auckland postgraduate student Lucy Vete has won the 2017 New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Central Innovation Student Design Award with a project the jury said was ‘imaginative, coherently realised, excellently presented, and compelling.’

The twenty-three year old, who has recently completed an MArch(Prof) degree at the School of Architecture and Planning, supervised by Senior Lecturer Jeremy Treadwell, described the work Shifting Grounds, as “a translation of Tongan histories into  projective, future social spaces.”

“As a member of the Tongan diaspora I was trying to find an architecture that expressed all the different conceptions of Tonga. Shifting Grounds is my nod to architecture about distinct Tongan material history and reality,” says Lucy.

The awards jury, which was convened by NZIA president Christina van Bohemen and included Auckland architect Jon Rennie and Sydney architect Rachel Neeson, said Lucy’s entry was “an impressive exercise in cultural exploration and site development. It was supported by considerable research and interrogation of both personal and architectural motivation, and moved fluently between different scales. It had a spatial richness as well as cultural resonance, and captured a migrant’s experience and an isolated maritime condition.’

Lucy’s award comes with $5,000 and a travel grant.

LiWen Choy, also from the School of Architecture and Planning, received a Highly Commended Award for a project the jury described a “sophisticated response to the challenge of presenting a multidimensional narrative.”

His project, Architectonic of Loneliness, applied filmic practices to architectural processes. The aim was to identify the subjective viewer in architectural representation, and this he approached through a process of storyboarding, two-dimensional and three-dimensional notation, and a short film. The resulting multidimensional narrative was used as the vehicle for the design process.

The work provoked the question: what if a space was represented in the way two different people might experience it? As presented in a short film, the work showed the mental spaces of two people projected onto physical spaces, and how the architects' codification of plans and cross-sections are deficient in communicating the plasticity of their experiences.

LiWen, who was supervised by Eu Jin Chua, received a $1,500 travel grant with his award. He says “ultimately the project is a theory that perhaps all architecture is a motivation of love and death.”

The NZIA Student Design Awards are regarded as New Zealand’s leading student architecture competition. Four finalists from each of the three schools of architecture, the University of Auckland, Unitec, and Victoria University of Wellington, compete for the annual prize.

Jury convenor Christina van Bohemen said the jury was inspired by the work of the students, and heartened that such talented young people were about to enter the architectural profession.