Architecture industry partner update September 2022

1. Introduction from Peter McPherson, Head of the School of Architecture
2. Brick Bay Folly
3. Conserving heritage architecture with digital technology
4. Interdisciplinary collaboration and the community


Introduction from Peter

Kia ora koutou

Our contemporary reality is conditioned by a high level of uncertainty. Climate, pandemic, war, economy, material shortages – all demand greater adaptability and resilience. The tertiary education environment is likewise dealing with the transition that will see Unitec become part of Te Pūkenga in 2023. I will briefly touch on what this shift, which was brought about by the Review of Vocational Education, means for the School of Architecture and you.

Within the school we are returning in many ways to normal after COVID lockdowns. Students are in the studios, fabrication projects are underway in our workshops, conferences have occurred and are planned for 2023, and student exchanges and international excursions are back in play. We are also enjoying being back to attending professional events in person and seeing you all.

The architecture programme at Unitec, established in 1994, is the only fully accredited professional programme across Australasia that is not located within a university. Within the Te Pūkenga network, the school has one of the largest post-graduate programmes, and proudly accounts for a large proportion of Māori and Pacific graduates (over 20 percent of Masters graduates from the programme in 2021).

In a world permeated by difference, dialogue is critical. The issues of indigenous peoples, of gender, and of the environment are being reinstated in the cultural landscape as the conditions of humanity's future.

We believe that a School of Architecture should teach professional skills, and through this, create the framework for design thinking. We also believe that it is through the implementation of design ideas in the social realm that responsibility for these ideas takes root and flourishes.

This year we have welcomed the (re)accreditation visits by professional bodies of architecture and landscape architecture. These provide the formal recognition of our programmes meeting the requirements and needs of the professions, and are key in maintaining national and international recognition of our architecture and landscape architecture programmes.

We are looking forward to continuing and progressing our work in 2023, and are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with our new, similarly minded colleagues and industry partners across the motu to broaden architectural education within Te Pūkenga. Our offerings will continue in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and landscape design, including our support of those seeking registration to the architecture profession by alternative pathways. Amid all the change, there is continuity of what is most important, and our programme and academic pedagogies are set to remain as they are.

I will keep you updated as we progress as Te Pūkenga, and of the other exciting projects the school is working on. Thank you for your ongoing support, and interest of our students and graduates.

Ngā mihi nui,


What is Te Pūkenga

Te Pūkenga is New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider delivering vocational skills training throughout the country. Unitec is part of Te Pūkenga. From 1 January 2023, all Unitec learners will be enrolled with Te Pūkenga.

You can read more about Te Pūkenga and FAQs around the move on our website here.



‘As a bird would draw from its immediate surroundings, the folly recycles what lay before to create a nest: nature’s contextual architecture.’

We are a sponsor of this fantastic project at Brick Bay, which sees senior students and emerging practitioners realise a folly each year.

Announced and opened to the public in May this year, three University of Auckland graduates – Joseph Trace, Brandon Carter-Chan and Nicholas Rowsby – won with their submission, The Nest in 2021.

They designed and built their Folly while navigating the uncertainty of the 2021 lockdowns and were further challenged balancing the completion of the final year of their architecture degrees. The resulting 2022 Folly The Nest is a thought provoking response to the landscape, resource use and the ever present climate emergency.

Find out more here.


Conserving heritage architecture with digital technology

It’s been fascinating and encouraging to see our School’s efforts to use digital technologies in domestic conservation practice with its 3D-modelling of the currently unoccupied former Carrington Hospital, known as Building One, on Unitec’s Mount Albert campus.

As Architecture Now puts it, it sets a new bar for conserving our heritage buildings when an increasing number of landmark and heritage buildings across the motu are either being abandoned or deemed too dangerous to occupy.

Read the article here to find out more about our involvement.


Interdisciplinary collaboration and the community

Early this year, the joint architecture/landscape architecture studio, run by Lucia Melchiors and Xinxin Wang, worked with the Māngere community and Kāinga Ora to develop ways to build resilience to future flooding in Māngere.  Te Ara-rata Stream care volunteer Julia Tuineau said our community group commends the students involved in the project because of their efforts to include other community people and us.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is inviting the Tāmaki Makaurau landscape architecture community, including students from Unitec, to join them in a wānanga on their ancestral whenua at Ōrākei on the 19th of September. This is the first time that this type of hui has been called. This wānanga offers a rich and rare opportunity for the landscape community to come together on a common kaupapa which will benefit us all by providing a deeper insight into one of the most dynamic and influential of Tāmaki Makaurau' iwi mana whenua. Students will also receive a guided tour through their awesome māra kai, designed and built by Matua Rob Small, an MLA graduate, a food production and cultural regeneration machine that nourishes their Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Alan Titchener, Di Menzies, and Josephine Clarke are organising a collaborative one-day design wānanga for landscape architecture students from the Wellington School of Architecture, Lincoln University, and Unitec on the 11th of October. Students will be working with Whaea Tania White from Ngā Kaitiaki, Te Noho Kotahitanga, to help protect Te Wai Unuroa o Wairaka, especially from contamination by future developments caused by flooding due to climate change. The results of the wānanga will be exhibited at the 2022 NZILA Firth Conference Tāmaki Makaurau. The conference marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tuia Pito Ora.