There’s something missing from the discussion about how our cities are changing. Cities don’t change by the single stroke of a pen, they evolve, building by building and whilst it would be nice to think that each building completes part of an overall vision, they are shaped by forces specific to their time, site, owner and use.
Recreational facilities can be some of the most demanding projects for architects. These are projects designed for the community and funded by the community. There are high hopes for the use of these buildings while budgets are invariably lean.
Architectural Graduate and former employee, Ashleigh Low, was awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Colombia University in New York. As the recipient of the inaugural Warren and Mahoney International Study Scholarship, she has spent the last 12 months undertaking a Masters of Science in Advanced Architectural Design where she has explored and challenged the digital design boundaries.
Universities are no longer just labs and lecture halls. Students want spaces to socialise in. These areas are an important part of differentiating between individual universities, in defining the student experience.
Tertiary institutions are more than bricks and mortar. These spaces shape the way students learn, the quality of research they produce, how they perceive their study experience. Philosophy and strategy construct these buildings, as much as the site or context.
Within the next 10 years there will be a transformation in our two largest cities. For very different reasons, both Auckland and Christchurch will metamorphose and New Zealand will be changed forever.
For decades, dismal living conditions have been almost a rite of passage for university students in New Zealand. But why is this acceptable? Wouldn’t it make more sense to create affordable spaces that allow student minds to focus fully on their studies? A new generation of thinking about student accommodation is hitting New Zealand shores, along with a new rationale for investing in these spaces.
The people of South Auckland enrol in tertiary education at a rate only half the national average. For a large proportion of the community, engaging in formal education after secondary school isn’t something they’d seriously consider. MIT’s strategic mission is to open up the possibility of study in the minds of their surrounding community, encouraging them to learn, to lead to better employment opportunities, and ultimately a better life.
The interface between a brand and its customers is rapidly changing. Organisations are rethinking the balance between their virtual and physical presence and how to design interactions across all these channels to ensure they are consistent, relevant and effective. The customer is king in this new knowledge-saturated world.
Christchurch will always be renowned for its heritage buildings and civic spaces. The consequences of a series of earthquakes cannot take this away, even amidst the damage or deconstruction of many superb buildings.
Mention an innovative workplace environment to the average office worker, and you’ll invariably be met with an eye-roll and maybe an anecdote about their own experience with workplace swings, Swiss balls, and other seemingly arbitrary objects that have bewildered and baffled. Over the past decade, the physical initiatives to stimulate workers have become increasingly symbolic, disconnected from the very people they are intended to motivate.
Digital models are explicit - every aspect of a design is well-defined and can be described. A digital model in which a design is represented explicitly allows us, for example, to get the coordinates of any point, to produce plans, sections and elevations and eventually, to build.
What will the new Christchurch look like? Will it be a city of clean, sweeping curves, modernist and minimalist, a “Gattaca” for our times, or will we see a renaissance of outwardly-traditional structures? Will Christchurch be a mini-Melbourne or a maxi Ashburton? The only thing we can be sure of is that Christchurch of the future will look very different from the Christchurch of the past.
At Warren and Mahoney, we talk about Retail Transformation rather than retail design because where retail design limits the discussion to plans and finishes, Retail Transformation opens the conversation up to business strategies that consider all forms of retail and draw in various streams of the business.
The broad and open themes of ‘adaptation and regeneration’ defined the 2011 NZIA conference. These themes can apply equally to the evolution of a architectural practice as to the development of cities or to their reconstruction.
The earthquake of 22 February 2011 and the ongoing sequence of aftershocks will be remembered for the destruction of much of the built fabric of Christchurch. It is not completely clear, even now, several months after the initial event, quite how much has been lost forever. Whatever the implications finally are, it is very clear that the cost will be very high.
We are currently at a threshold in New Zealand. 2011 represents a point in the economic cycle where reconfiguration needs to occur before the next period of the growth and development of our cities. It is the right time to be having a discussion around the evolution of our design practice and our processes.
The post war fabric of New Zealand cities, particularly Christchurch, has been substantially affected by the work of Warren and Mahoney since 1956. The practice has had a continued fascination with the way that substantial materials are modelled, made and connected – concrete to steel, timber with glass.
The pace of change in the 21st century continues to increase with the world demanding for more knowledge and skills. We are moving into a world of seamless interconnection and full of complexity. Society is confronted with an evolving ‘learningscape’ where typically places of tertiary education have now been developed into a more hybrid and holistic model.
Architects learn from infancy to believe that we can legitimately apply our minds and our practice to the design of every element of the world we live in. Our peers in related design professions sometimes mistakenly interpret this as arrogance or worse, naivety, whereas we simply maintain the value of our design influence at every scale.
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