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Designs from top-notch Victoria University students take over Wellington

Work from top Master of Architecture students in Aotearoa is on display outside Victoria University of Wellington’s Architecture and Design campus in central Wellington.

The work was created for the Central Innovation Student Design Award for the top Master of Architecture student in New Zealand, chosen by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA). Four students are chosen from each Master of Architecture programme at Victoria University, the University of Auckland and Unitec Institute of Technology to compete for the award. The winner receives $5,000 to use towards their study or career, with two Highly Commended students also receiving prize money.

Victoria University selected Ged Finch, Stacey Mountfort, Ryan McCully, and Jessica Wright from the 75 Master’s students in the 2017 programme.

“These students created four very different projects that showed the highest calibre of design from our school,” says professor Daniel Brown, Associate Dean of Academic Development for the Faculty of Architecture and Design. “Each student showed the ability to take risks and raise the bar in design.”

Ged Finch created a new zero-waste system for prefab architecture, including building a one-to-one scale model. Stacey Mountfort looked at incorporating nature and the five senses into architectural design, while Ryan McCully looked at methods of incorporating heritage buildings destroyed in the Christchurch earthquake into the city again, preserving the memory and narrative of the city. Jessica Wright created a manifesto about the digital era and the loss of hand drawing in the design process, arguing that a turn towards purely digital design is a major loss for architecture.

“This group of students all had something very different and exciting to say,” says Brown. “All four students were looking at non-traditional solutions to traditional problems, including problems that we may not see the full impact of for many years to come. Each project was very forward-thinking and showed amazing leadership.”

Finch’s project received a Highly Commended from the NZIA judging panel, which valued the unique combination of pragmatic and theoretical in his work.

“My work is a bit out of the box for this competition, so receiving the Highly Commended was great,” says Finch. “It’s positive that the NZIA will give this sort of work the stamp of approval. I also made some great connections through the competition.”

Finch plans to refine his design solution throughout his upcoming PhD, and ultimately implement the system in a number of buildings. “We hope to see the practical application of this project soon in Wellington,. Waste is a huge problem in the construction industry, and my project provides a possible solution that is ready to be used today to start making our architecture more sustainable.”

Large-scale photographs demonstrating key concepts from each project are currently on display in lightboxes on the footpath in front of Victoria University’s Te Aro campus in Vivian Street.

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