Architecture and Design students awarded industry accolades

Sixteen Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation—Te Wāhanga Waihanga-Hoahoa students have received awards from respected industry bodies.

Two models of different architectural designs on display in an industrial style building.
Models of Charlotte Teneza’s Ulan (left) and Chris Foster’s Sanctuary (right).

Ten of the award-winning designs are currently on exhibition at the Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington Te Aro campus until Thursday 18 May.

Faculty Dean, Professor Robyn Phipps, says the projects are an incredible display of the level of sophisticated design thinking, technical expertise, and talent within the Faculty.

“Our students are encouraged to embrace their creativity and think outside the box, and to have this recognised by such prominent industry bodies is important.

“We strongly value the relationships we hold with these bodies, and the opportunities our students have to submit into these categories gives them a platform to prove themselves—not only in their studies, but in a way that will support them throughout their career.”

Highlights from the awards include Master of Architecture student Chris Foster’s Sanctuary winning the TEAM Architects Scholarship Supreme Award; Bachelor of Design Innovation in industrial design graduate Charlotte Teneza’s Ulan was runner up in the 2022 Kohler Design Awards; and Master of Interior Architecture students Lucia Graham and Hunter Reeve’s Ō Tokaanu won the Student Spatial category and received Bronze at the Design Best Awards from the Designers Institute of New Zealand.

As part of his 400-level architectural design research, Chris Foster designed a ‘modern sanctuary’ for the University’s Kelburn campus. Chris says the design acts as both a modernised version of the landmark Hunter Building and a journey between the two.

“Developed as a modern gateway, it’s representative of a secular, multi-cultural and multi-religious campus, where spaces of community and theatre have been developed to cater to all on campus.”

For Sanctuary, Chris was awarded the Team Architects Scholarship Supreme Award, which provides financial assistance to master’s students based on their design work in the first semester of their course. Chris says the money will be extremely helpful.

“It allows me to place a stronger focus on my thesis without the looming stress of money, meaning that I can put more time into what I create this year to produce something I’m even more proud of.”

He says winning the award was a huge surprise.

“I was up against a lot of strong competition from the various architecture schools across Aotearoa, and I feel privileged to have even been a candidate. It’s given me so much confidence in what I design, both now and for what I create in the future.”

Ulan by Charlotte Teneza is an outdoor shower that collects its own water from rain, bringing the Kohler luxury brand outdoors. Charlotte says she wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of her lecturers, friends, and family.

“Professor Simon Fraser and my tutor Andrew Roberts guided me all throughout the project, particularly when I had to get in a bunch of last minute changes! My friends and family have all been so supportive too, especially when I was juggling three classes and my capstone project in my last semester.”

Charlotte was runner up at the Kohler Design Awards, awarded annually to young design, product, spatial, and architecture students from AUT, Unitec, Massey, Te Herenga Waka, or Otago. Having worked on the project for over two months, she says the feeling of having her hard work pay off is amazing.

Lucia Graham and Hunter Reeve won both Bronze and the Student Spatial category at the Design Best Award, brought to you by The Designers Institute of New Zealand—an annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product, digital and motion design. The pair say that working together was one of the highlights of the entire project.

“Working alongside someone you gel so well with creatively made it a super enjoyable design process,” says Hunter. “We had never worked together before this, so there was a natural level of uncertainty going into it, but we quickly found our groove.”

Lucia says they’re grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively while at university.

“It taught us a lot about ourselves as young designers, and I think it’ll be a big help as we enter the industry.”

Their winning design, Ō Tokaanu, is a redesign of Tokaanu’s geothermal pools. Ō translates from Māori to mean ‘those of’; Hunter says that when the duo first visited the site, their guide stated they wanted the design to reflect that the land, people, and water are all connected.

“This name embodies that notion. Every aspect of it has been carefully curated to create special experiences that evoke a sense of purity, leading to a meaningful connection between those three things.”

Lucia says the material used in the design was closely considered to help evoke this sense of place and connection.

“The rammed earth draws from the clay ground on the site, the charred timber mimics the trees, the thatched roof references the grasses, and the pounamu and rakau illustrate the connection to ancient Māori wellness techniques.”

The full list of student winners is available on the exhibition website.