SCALA seminar series

Welcome to The Scala Seminar Series.

These free public seminars are 1 hour-long public lectures hosted by Unitec's Landscape Architecture, and Architecture departments. They are designed to provide students, staff and practitioners with high quality, relevant information from academics and practitioners on a variety of topics relating to the multi-disciplinarity of architecture, landscape design and landscape architecture.

CPD points are available to practitioners by the NZ Institute of Landscape Architects, the NZ Registered Architecture Board and Architectural Designers New Zealand.

Keep up to date on upcoming Scala events:


Madagascar II: The Spiny Forest

by Sue Wake, Senior Lecturer, Landscape, Unitec Institute of Technology

Thursday 23rd August, 2018, 12.30-1.30pm

Sue presented a seminar in May of her travels to the rain forests of the east and the stone forests (Tsingy) at Bemaraha in the west of Madagascar. In this part 2 seminar she will head to the dry south with its spiny forests, home to greater biodiversity and more extreme adaptations than any other Malagasy environment. In these inhospitable places live strange plants and animals, eg. the tourist (vasahar) trees with white peeling bark and resin, octopus trees (Didiera spp.), radiated tortoises, giant hissing cockroaches, sifaka lemurs and a further baobab species - Adansonia za.

The local tribes inhabit the coast as fishermen (the Vezo) or the desert-like interior (the Mahafaly), where extreme poverty is commonplace. On the journey south are quaint towns of wood craftsmen, wild silk spinners and paper makers as well as the eerie Ihorombe plateau where some members of the Bara tribe have turned to cattle rustling and general banditry, making night travel dangerous and illegal. The sandstone buttes of L’Isalo National Park date to the jurrasic period and make a welcome midway break, rich in geology, plants, animals and tribal significance.

Venue: Building 1, Room 2075 (Lecture Theatre 1, level 2), Unitec Institute of Technology, Entry 1, Carrington Rd, Mt Albert.

Parking available adjacent to Entry 1, around Building 1 or behind Building 12. (View a map of Mt Albert campusView a map of Building 1).

CPD: NZILA CPD 0.5 points (category 3d). NZRAB CPD 10 pts (register to sign at seminar). ADNZ CPD 2 points. For further seminar information or to join mailing list contact swake@unitec.ac.nz. Work Experience points available for attending BLA students (10).


5 continents: 5 gardens  - A discussion about planting design in different cultural and climatic contexts

by Andy Hamilton, Landscape Architect, Andy Hamilton Studio.

Thursday 16th August, 2018, 12.30-1.30pm

Andy Hamilton is an Auckland-based Landscape Architect (a former student of Unitec) who is the director of his own studio. The practice has urban and rural projects around New Zealand as well as a number of international projects.

Andy lived in London for 11 years working as an associate of Tom Stuart-Smith Ltd, a renowned British designer and plantsman. During his time in the UK Andy designed private and public gardens in numerous countries each with different cultural and traditional connections with gardening as well as very contrasting climates.

During this talk Andy will discuss five different projects each located within a different continent. He will explain the influence of culture and climate on the design of the gardens with a particular focus on planting design.

Venue: Building 1, Room 2075 (Lecture Theatre 1, level 2), Unitec Institute of Technology, Entry 1, Carrington Rd, Mt Albert.

Parking available adjacent to Entry 1, around Building 1 or behind Building 12. (View a map of Mt Albert campusView a map of Building 1).

CPD: NZILA CPD 0.5 points (category 3d). NZRAB CPD 10 pts (register to sign at seminar). ADNZ CPD 2 points. For further seminar information or to join mailing list contact swake@unitec.ac.nz. Work Experience points available for attending BLA students (10).


The Mad of Madagascar: Place, plants, people

by Sue Wake, Senior Lecturer, Dip in Landscape Design, Cert in Home Garden Design, Unitec, Auckland.

Thursday 24 May 2018, 12.30pm - 1.30pm, Bldg 1 room 2075, Unitec Institute of Technology, entry via Gate 1

The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar has almost mystical status - an island jewel nestled in the Indian Ocean and a biological ark full of strange specimens like the legendary lemurs, found nowhere else.

Like New Zealand it has a very high degree of endemism (approx. 90% of plants compared to NZ’s 80%) due to long geographical isolation. However, in Magagascar’s case, much of the wildlife blew, flew or swam across the Mozambique Channel and then developed into very divergent species from what is now found in Continental Africa. NZ’s development of species was instead one of isolated evolution. Another big difference is wealth - Madagascar is regularly listed as one of the 10 poorest nations. Sue Wake achieved a long-held desire to visit for 3 weeks in July 2017 and she will share the colour and beauty of the parts she visited - focused on plants although bewitched by the animals.

See directions and CPD information in the attached poster.


Embedded Potential: Physical Transformations that Lead to Human Ones

by Rick Archer, CEO and Founding Principal, Overland Partners, Architects, Texas, USA

Thursday 3 May 2018, 12.30pm - 1.30pm, Bldg 1 room 2075, Unitec Institute of Technology, entry via Gate 1

Architecture is a dialogue between the invisible and the visible, a belief that all things have embedded potential waiting to be discovered. In any project, there is always something beyond what’s apparent, something truly inspirational that can be achieved within prescribed parameters. Overland’s work is founded on this premise.

In this presentation Rick shares the firm’s unique approach to achieving innovative architectural and planning efforts across the world. This approach has influenced sustainability practices, aided in creating a new model for homeless recovery centres, and encouraged global communities to overcome perceived limitations.

Overland Partners, founded in 1987 in San Antonio, Texas, provides comprehensive architecture and planning services throughout the world to create places of transformation that lead to human ones. Sensitive to the environmental and aesthetic contexts of its projects, Overland strives for a thoughtful integration of technology, art, and craft to uncover innovative sustainable solutions for highly complex projects. The design process is collaborative and has led to many awards and accolades.

See directions and CPD information in the attached poster.


(Non) Linear-infrastructure and episode

by Henry Crothers, Landscape Architect/Urban Design, LandLAB, Auckland.

Thursday 1 October 2015, 12.30pm - 1.30pm


Cultural Identity and Kaitiakitanga: Moving beyond the conservation estate

by Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Designer, Artist and Researcher (DWS Creative Ltd).

Thursday 30th July 2015, 12.30-1.30pm

Desna’s work is connected through the kaupapa of exploration and articulation of identity. She has designed, managed and delivered branding, websites, arts and museum exhibitions and events. In her fourth term as Co-Chair of Ngā Aho, Māori Design Professionals Society, Desna is actively involved in Māori Identity discourse in Aotearoa via Treaty of Waitangi research, exhibitions, wānanga and speaking engagements.

Desna’s mahi explores the practical role that design communication can play in bridging gaps of understanding between cultures and business practices in the New Zealand landscape. Kaitiakitanga in relation to landscape is often perceived as a conservationist ethic, precluding human integration and business practice. What does active kaitiakitanga look like? How can culturally connected design improve the articulation of a māori way of knowing the environment and in doing so, support the validity of māori knowledge within science and business practices?

Venue: Building 1, Room 2070 (Lecture Theatre 2, level 2), (The Chapel, level 2), Unitec Institute of Technology, Entry 1, Carrington Rd, Mt Albert.

Parking available adjacent to Entry 1, around Building 1 or behind Building 12. (View a map of Mt Albert campusView a map of Building 1).

CPD: NZILA CPD 0.5 points (category 3d). NZRAB CPD 10 pts (register to sign at seminar). ADNZ CPD 2 points. For further seminar information or to join mailing list contact swake@unitec.ac.nz. Work Experience points available for attending BLA students (10).


The Moorish legacy - gardens, plants and landscapes from northern Morocco and southern Spain

by Sue Wake, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Unitec Institute of Technology.

Thursday 20th August 2015, 12.30-1.30pm

The Muslim Moors from Morocco in North Africa invaded Spain in 711. They were finally ousted from Andulusia (Sthern Spain) in 1492 (the Reconquista), 250 years after other parts of Spain. As a result, architecture and garden-making in Andulucia persisted in its Moorish influence much longer. The Moorish courtyard (with water axes) references the paradise gardens of Persia, which is spoken of in the Koran. It is also a practical response to the hot climate and Palaces such as the Alhambra typify this. Other layers have since been added – eg the Mudjejar style developed by Moorish craftsmen after Catholic rule was re-instated and the later Spanish influence as seen in the patios of Cordoba and the Carmens and Casas of Granada.

Sue Wake visited Nthern Morocco and Sthern Spain in Oct 2014. In this seminar she will show famous garden examples that reflect the Moorish design similarities between Moroccan and Andulusian gardens, as well as some less well known Spanish gardens and a glimpse at the majestic Atlas cedars, complete with Barbary apes, in their Middle-Atlas Moroccan home.

Venue: Building 1, Room 2075 (Lecture Theatre 2, level 2), Unitec Institute of Technology, Entry 1, Carrington Rd, Mt Albert.

Parking available adjacent to Entry 1, around Building 1 or behind Building 12. (View a map of Mt Albert campusView a map of Building 1).

CPD: NZILA CPD 0.5 points (category 3d). NZRAB CPD 10 pts (register to sign at seminar). ADNZ CPD 2 points. For further seminar information or to join mailing list contact swake@unitec.ac.nz. Work Experience points available for attending BLA students (10).