Architectural excellence celebrated

Thursday 28 Mar 2024

The design prowess of staff and students in the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning was recognised at last November's NZ Timber Design Awards.

The award-winning projects were supported by a grant from the WIDE Trust.

Learning from Trees, designed by Professor Andrew Barrie, and involving other faculty and post graduate students, won the Interior Design Award at the awards on 2 November 2023, which highlight the latest advances in New Zealand’s timber construction capability.

The project, conceived for the Italian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, drew inspiration from New Zealand's history of timber building, referencing elements of both colonial and Pacific architectural traditions.

The lattice-like structure, resembling a ball of string or a woven basket, addresses the challenge of responding to climate change through low-carbon architecture within the constraints of a small, geographically isolated economy.

Another aspect of the Biennale exhibit was also awarded: Associate Professor Mike Davis was highly commended for his Venice Benches  furniture design in the New Zealand Speciality Timber Award category.

The Biennale project faced several constraints, including the short installation time frame and a limited budget of $160,000 to cover design, fabrication, shipping, installation and relocation.

Andrew Barrie and structural engineering firm Batchelar McDougall Consulting were also named winners of the Innovative Timber Manufacturing and Technology Award for their Lightweight Timber Research Structures. Developed with Barrie’s postgraduate students, the goal for this research was to create lightweight, sustainable structures that expand the possibilities for timber construction, as part of the response to the current climate emergency.

Both prizes in the Student Design Award category also went to the School of Architecture and Planning. The winner was Gregory Mann, for his project  The Vertical Stage. The project's design is a response to an extreme density scenario and takes inspiration from drawings of the hākari stage – traditional and temporary structures used by Māori for large gatherings.

Thomas Nguyen was highly commended in the Student Design Award category for  The Saucer - A Timber Pavillion for Summerhill Charitable Trust, which aims to blur the boundaries between the built environment and the surrounding landscape, creating a seamless integration with the natural world.

WIDE Trust Inducted into the Chancellor’s Circle at the University of Auckland

In November 2023, the Wood Industry Development and Education Trust (WIDE Trust) received the honour of being inducted into the Chancellor’s Circle at the University of Auckland.

The Chancellor's Circle comprises of three societies named after prominent past Chancellors of the University of Auckland.

The WIDE Trust was recognised as a member of the Sir Douglas Robb Society, which acknowledges cumulative giving ranging between $100,000 and $1 million.


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