2015 AAA Visionary Architecture Awards – Winners


The 2015 AAA Visionary Architecture Awards were fantastic!  We celebrated Auckland future leaders in architectural thinking and showcased their work at the best venue in town, the Auckland Art Gallery.

The awards programme, now in its 24th year running, attracted 139 entries this year, which were shortlisted to 34 for final judging and the exhibition. The pool of work on the display at the Art Gallery was strong, in particular the student work.

The AAA Visionary Architecture Awards (previously the Unbuilt Architecture Awards) recognises and encourages unrestrained conceptual ideas in the field of architecture, some are pure theory, while some are already in the process of being built.

Held on Tuesday the 17th of November, the night was kicked off by a lecture delivered by lead judge Rewi Thompson on School of Architecture student work which contemplates and proposes ways to reconnect Auckland to the Waitemata Harbour.

The awards ceremony, attended by 220 of the finest architecture enthusiasts, celebrated the winners of this years 3 categories; Student, Conceptual and Work in Progress.

Open: Conceptual Category

Winner: Moving Grounds; Irrupting Three Kings’ Inverted Volcanoes, by Zee Shake Lee

This project offered a highly abstract, experiential architectural and almost sculptural poetry to a highly complex and topical site in Auckland. Located in the quarry created by the mining of Three Kings – and currently scheduled to be refilled with medium density housing – the project employs five architectural propositions to explore the spatial potential of an extraordinary site and its geology. Each proposition, or architectural intervention, interrogates the notion of inhabitation in an eccentric and manufactured landscape and asks questions of our relationship with the urban landscape.

Runner-Up: Te Whare Tapu o Ngapuhi: ‘An Architectural Response to Taonga Revitalisation’ , by Rameka Alexander- Tu’inukuafe

This project questions contemporary museum design in New Zealand, and looks at appropriate guardianship for taonga from a Maori world-view. It focuses on the return of taonga to the Ngapuhi iwi, and proposes an alternative to either a contemporary museum or a whare nui, where such powerful objects may have traditionally been housed. The proposal does not focus solely on the final architectural object as a solution to the quest for a comfortable resting place for the repatriated taonga, instead it narrates the full journey of bringing them home. We are reminded that the rituals and spatial importance of each stage of the return is as important as any final built form. The largest built structure marks a long pause in the process, and recalls hakiri-type construction, with an associated atea cleared space marked in a diamond form typical throughout the Pacific. This meeting place is where the taonga can be warmed into life by the community. From here, the taonga are taken across the lake and are lowered into the heart of the mountain. It is suggested, then, that architecture may play only a part of a wider project of storing valuables, and that the architecture that truly matters is the whenua itself. The project seems firmly established in its Ngapuhi context, with its representation style acknowledging Ngapuhi artist Shane Cotton in the use of colour and whimsical line style.

Highly Commended:
The Golden Theatre, by Jonathan A Gibb
Aftermath of the Spectacle, by Linbing (Fatina) CHEN


Open: Work in Progress Category

Highly Commended:
Lauder III, by Stuart Taylor
Sea Whare, by Hana Scott, Gaelle Mirande Broucas, Nick Sayes, Shelly Lin


Student Category

Winner: Post Civic, by Robert Pak

This project is both visionary, believable and achievable. This project re-creates and re-connects the Waitemata to the historic train station and in doing so celebrates and reinforces our civic heart. The bold cultural gesture in part reunites the forgotten Waipapa stream with the sea. In this way whether it be the stream or the sea, the reconnection acts as a living vein, that pumps, resuscitates new life and energy, to revitalise and reinvigorate a significant part of Auckland’s early heritage, in a new and exciting way. Interventions like this, provide a wealth of variety and possibilities, where canoes, people and architecture buzz in a celebrational dance that weave a richly woven tapestry of everyday life.

Runner-Up: Whakapapa o Tamaki Makaurau, by Hana Greer

A very potent and highly culturally charged project and idea. To restore flattened mountains not as mountains but as a new landscape and architecture is brave. Why, because people do not build mountains, that is the job of the gods. This proposal seeks to reconfigure part of the container depo reclaimed land as a landscape to share and reconnect the Waitemata with its community. The land is reshaped to create a public domain, that hides an interior. Building underground is not uncommon to Auckland. Particularly during times of war but also early Maori excavated mountains for storage, shelter and fortifications. So living, working beneath a natural surface is strategic and authentic. The sliver or scar is a poetic and a potent gesture that monumentalises, symbolises and reminder to us living, the historic demolition of headlands like Point Britomart, that must never to be repeated. In a cultural sense, the recreation of a new headland restores the mana (significance) and wairua (spiritness) and the cut or moko, is a mark or signature that identifies who we are, and our home called Tamaki Makaurau.

Highly Commended:
Striated Territories, Uncovering Latent Cultural Practices, by Guy Newton
Printed City, by Liam Stumbles
Memory of the Southern Sky, by Daniel Yang
Manichean Geometries, by Eleanor Glenton


Thanks to the Judges, Rewi Thompson, Lynda Simmons, Dean Mackenzie and Chris Darby, and to the Auckland Art Gallery for providing the best venue in town, and to all our entrants.

Alistair Munro