Architecture student fells the competition at NZ Timber Design Awards

Master of Architecture (Professional) student Adam Clark has won the student category in the NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards with his entry, Te Whare Wānanga o Nga Mahi Auaha.

View from above of Te Whare Wānanga o Nga Mahi Auaha, Adam Clark's timber building design

“I was speechless when I found out I’d won and so excited. I’m really thankful to WPMA and NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards and the student category sponsor, Juken New Zealand. I am so grateful for the opportunities this opens up. I always strive to push myself in all aspects of my life and with this degree being so challenging it’s nice to recognise how far I can go with such a great support system and a bit of confidence,” says Adam.

“My supervisor, Professor Daniel K. Brown nominated me for this. I wasn’t even aware of the competition but luckily the criteria fit perfectly with what my final design project was.”

Te Whare Wānanga o Nga Mahi Auaha is Adam’s final year ‘capstone’ project – the culmination of his degree. As part of the course students were tasked with designing a hypothetical Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Creative Practice in Shelly Bay.

Te Whare Wānanga o Nga Mahi Auaha follows Māori design principles and the design incorporates the different features of the land to create a flowing architectural form.

“The building was designed based off separate grid reference points found on the site. I used the ideology of Whātaitai, one of Wellington’s original taniwha, as narrative driver. Allowing for the individual parts of the taniwha to be represented at each grid point, with the four different schools being situated at each point.” explains Adam.

The design impressed the judges. “This project brought together an impressive array of functions within a single building that effectively tied together the site, Māori culture and a flow of people through the building,” says judge David Carradine.

Judge Tim Melville says, “Adam’s design is derived from the narrative of Wellington’s taniwha, Whātaitai, whose spirit transformed into the bird Te Keo. The sweeping structural timber elements unite the various parts of the taniwha which themselves contain the schools of dance, architecture, music and theatre. Strong conceptual thinking has been developed into an adventurous, well considered building which explores the connection between land, sea and sky.”

The NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards showcase the innovative, structural and aesthetic use of timber by New Zealand architects and engineers. Adam’s unique design has already caught the attention of industry.

“Being nominated and then winning this competition is a huge deal as an architecture student, it’s already helped me gain a summer job at Peddle Thorp, an architecture firm in Auckland.”

Once he’s completed his Master’s degree Adam hopes to work in architecture firms all over the world. “This degree has been challenging and I didn’t know how much I would be pushed. I am immensely grateful to the University and especially Professor Brown, for pushing me and supporting me. It has opened my eyes to how far I can go and opened up huge opportunities for me to develop my skills further than I thought I’d be able to.”