Will Chrisp

New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture (NZILA) Scholarship winner Will hopes his research will make a real difference to how we enjoy our night skies.

William Chrisp in Cobblestone Park, Te Aro

Will has always enjoyed being outdoors and learning about the natural world. Combined with his passion for design, this made a Bachelor of Architectural Studies in Landscape Architecture and now a Master of Landscape Architecture a natural choice.

“Studying landscape architecture allows me to contribute to discussions on how our public spaces should be managed for the future, and presents an opportunity to help strengthen the relationships between our natural and built environments,” says Will.

Will’s Master’s research explores the development of the nighttime experience in public spaces, specifically, ways we can enjoy our naturally dark New Zealand skies.

“When we design our public spaces, especially at university, we are most often thinking about how it will be used during the day, with lighting designed in ways that extend the spaces’ ‘daytime use’ into night. Though we consider it to be a part of the natural environment, the night sky is neglected as being something a public space can be used to enjoy,” explains Will.

“My research suggests our public spaces can offer a different experience at night to what we see and use them for during the day. It proposes the specific question of, ‘how can we design our public spaces to provide an equal and enhanced experience for both day and night?’

“It analyses how lighting and the physical elements in an outdoor space can be better utilised to improve visibility of the stars, and discusses how the cultural history embedded in the night sky can be brought forward.”

During his time at the University, Will developed a love for star gazing as a therapeutic activity, which informed his passion for this area of research.

“This has led to a passion for astrophotography (photographing the stars) which has shown me just how much our cities are affected by light pollution.”

Will hopes his research will make a real difference to how we experience lighting in our public spaces, especially at night. “It would be awesome to see more stars around our cities!”

Will’s research helped him win the 2020 New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture (NZILA) Vectorworks Student Scholarship.

“Winning the scholarship feels awesome! Early on in the process I was finding very little information from other sources on similar projects, but knowing others support and believe in my research is a great feeling and really motivating! I’m looking forward to seeing where my research will take me.”