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Unitec students take top architecture awards

Wednesday February 1, 2017

L. Mason Rattray of Unitec’s architecture pathway has received New Zealand’s top prize for final-year architecture students.

Rattray was announced as the winner of the 2016 New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Central Innovation Student Design Awards following two days of presentations and judging at TSB Arena in Wellington. The 12 finalists at the awards were drawn from New Zealand’s three schools of architecture at Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland and Unitec Institute of Technology.

Rattray’s competition-winning project presented a new dairy farming model for India that aims to improve the living and working conditions of farm workers and provide a means of upskilling and empowering lower-caste workers.

In the farm’s design, Rattray drew upon his own his own background and his extensive experience living and working in India. He grew up on a dairy farm in Otorohanga and attended Otorohanga College before earning a qualification in construction technology and management in Denmark.

“Ostensibly, this project is about the planning and construction of dairy farms in India,” the awards jury said, “but its real concern is how lives can be rapidly improved through a holistic combination of agriculture and society.” Rattray is currently involved in the design and construction of a pilot dairy farm north of Delhi.

This year’s awards were judged by Christina van Bohemen, President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Stephen McDougall, a director of Wellington-based architecture firm Studio Pacific Architecture, and Australian architect Melonie Bijl-Smith.

Unitec’s Shaun Goddard undertook a project that used music as a starting point for collaborative placemaking achieving better connections between disparate parts of Auckland. Classmate Kyle Ramsay set his project in his hometown of New Plymouth. Ramsey’s scheme involved restoring the Huatoki Stream to its full dignity, overcoming the “tyranny of transport planners” and designing ‘rooms’ between mountain and sea” that celebrated New Plymouth’s obvious landmarks.

Elizabeth Milne, also from Unitec, drew on her experience as a New Zealand U20 football representative by proposing a redesign of a stadium in Papua New Guinea (currently host of FIFA’s U20 Women’s World Cup). Her stadium also plays a role as village green, and is “a confident display of the real and affordable and a well-thought-out urban response”, the jury said.

Fifth-year architecture study allows students to undertake comprehensive research into challenging problems.