The following is a description of some of the major projects completed in the Studio. If you would like to download this text as a PDF click here.
In general, the Community Design Studio, operated out of the University of Auckland School of Architecture between 1983 and 2001, and engaged exclusively in LIVE projects, many but not all of which were in the Maori community. It was created to offer free design services to low income and marginalised groups who could not otherwise afford professional design fees. Over the 18 years of its existence, the Community Design Studio completed more than 40 projects, all of a very high standards, and many of them bringing about major changes in the environment and in the community. Projects were conducted in the context of a co-operative learning environment in which students worked collectively on one design proposal. Decisions were made by consensus. Students were evaluated upon a range of issues involved in a group process as well as on the merits of their final design proposals. Evaluations were also developed through consensus. Client feedback formed an important element in this evaluation process.
Below is a description of the projects that have been completed.
Projects from the Community Design Studio (University of Auckland)
The Design of a Youth Support Facility for the Kerr Taylor Trust: (1984)
Fifteen Third year students developed design proposals for a Youth Village on land owned by the Anglican Church and administered by the Kerr Taylor Trust. The eventual outcome of the project was the building of a facility for Youth at Risk under the auspices of the Rev, Felix Donnelly.
Perhaps the most widely publicised project carried out in the Studio was the Alternative Aotea Centre for the Performing Arts. This comprised a 3 week, 50 person consensus design process for a Performing Art Centre for Auckland. The project was televised by Television New Zealand, exhibited in Auckland, and widely reported and discussed in magazines and newspapers. The project has been published in two international design magazines, and has been included as a chapter in a book on design participation.(see exhibitions).
The Highbury Study: (1985)
The Birkenhead Business Association commissioned the Community Design Studio to do a major Urban Design Study for Birkenhead City. (pop.40,000) Students produced an Urban Design Brief for the Town, and the studio design proposals were later partially integrated into the Birkenhead City Council's District Plan.
The Viaduct Basin Study: (1986)
An environmental study of Auckland's waterfront commissioned by the Auckland Civic Trust; the intention being the development of Design Guidelines to be presented to a public seminar at Auckland's Custom House May 1Oth 1986 opened by the Minister of the Environment, the Hon. Phil Goff. The Guidelines later formed the bulk of the Auckland Civic Trust's own landmark report The Viaduct Basin.
The Karangahape Road Project: (1986)
A development proposal, coupled with an $80M bid through one of Auckland's foremost development companies for development rights to a 5 acre block of Council-owned land. The proposal included residential, commercial and recreational facilities on multiple levels. The proposal was short-listed by the City Council with two others (out of 21 applications), but failed to win the contract.
What distinguishes each of these student projects is that each took the from of a group design process, unique in the world of Architectural Education. This process, the Integrated Group Design Process (The Ward Method) represents a significant development and achievement in Architectural Design research, and was developed to specifically complement the philosophy of the Community Design Studio. It has been published extensively in international design magazines. (See publications)
The Whakatane Study: (1988)
The development of a Design Guideline brief for the town of Whakatane (population 35,000) in New Zealand. A joint-venture with Development Management Resources, an international management consulting firm. The project included facilitation of public meetings, presentation to Council and to the local Maori tribe, the Ngati Awa, and culminated in the production of design proposals and a 100 page professional report for the re-planning of the entire CBD. This work has been published internationally and has been acclaimed for its attempt to deal realistically with issues of biculturalism in a design context. (see publications) The development plan for the town was approved by consensus at a large public meeting, facilitated by the University team. The Mayor, Ed. Byrne referred to this consensus as “a historical turning point in the race relations of the town”. The current District Planner for the Whakatane District Council is also on record (ten years later) as saying that the Council has the best relations with Iwi (Tribe) of any Local Authority in New Zealand.
The Hamilton Study. (1989)
The Hamilton City Council (pop. 100,00) requested that the Community Design Studio conduct a similar study for the downtown area of Hamilton. 15 students were involved for a total of 10 weeks. They conducted surveys and interviews amongst the townspeople and facilitated 5 public meetings through which a community development plan was achieved. This was presented to the city in a professional report, together with a 5 metre x 2 metre 1/500th scale model of the central area of the city. The proposal was later displayed at the Waikato Art Museum in Hamilton as the centre-piece of an exhibition on the town's revitalisation programme. Its report recommendations were adopted by the Hamilton City Council into the zoning and design guidelines for the District Scheme (Town Plan).
House for Richard Haine. (1990)(First Year project)
Twelve First Year students undertook the design and technical specifications of a house for Richard Haine in Birkenhead. The house was modest (1400 sq. ft.) on a steeply South-facing bush-covered site. The construction form was of light timber frame on pole-platform. Students were entirely responsible for developing a brief and, in consultation with the client, the production of a single group design. The project ran for 10 weeks
Te Whare Wananga o Ngati Awa (1990)
The Ngati Awa tribe of Whakatane, with whom the Community Design Studio had developed a very good rapport in the previous Whakatane Study, decided to plan their own Whare Wananga (a Maori University / Polytech based upon traditional Maori values and experience in which instruction would be conducted entirely in the Maori language). Their chosen site was the old Whakatane Board Mills - a group of recently-vacated industrial buildings about 2 kilometres outside the township of Whakatane. Eight Third and Fourth Year students and 4 tutors working intensively with the Ngati Awa to produce a comprehensive Development Plan for the Whare Wananga, and took the proposal up to statutory Planning Application stage. The students produced a model of the proposal. Later, they formed a Consultancy firm The Community Design Co-Operative, to produce a 210 page development report - all of which broke entirely new ground in New Zealand education, and was lauded by the Ngati Awa themselves as a fine example of biculturalism in action. Development proposals were stalled by the 1990 parliamentary elections that saw a change of government and policies in tertiary education. However, much of the research conducted in the class was later incorporated into the design of New Zealand’s second Whare Wananga – Awanuiarangi at Whakatane. Maori students involved in the earlier proposal have been major designers in this latest project.
The Principal of Birkdale Primary School contacted the Community Design Studio at the beginning of 1990 to ask whether it was possible for the students to design and build a playground for a school of approximately 300 children. The school supports the only bilingual unit (Maori/English) in North City. The project ran for 10 weeks, the first 5 weeks involved contact with the client - (the children, teachers and parents). During this time students helped the parents and staff in organising a School Fair to raise the necessary funds for the playground. $10,000 was raised. In close classroom contact and consultation with the children separate designs were then prepared, leading eventually to one final design. The second five week period was devoted to the construction of the playground - a multi-use, multi-structured environment complete with slide, flying fox, track slide and tyre swing. Over 60 cubic metres of earth were shaped into landscaped mounds, and on the last week children and students planted 200 native trees. Cost estimates indicate that the playground was constructed for approximately one quarter of its commercial value
Onehunga Community House Project (1991) (First and Second Year Project.)
In September 1991, the Community Design Studio were approached by the Onehunga Community House Committee. The Onehunga Community House, a building of some historic significance located in a 1900 Onehunga Primary School was both under-utilised and under some threat of demolition. The Committee wished to develop plans to remodel the Community House such as to increase its usage and to instigate moves towards the building’s historic preservation. Fourteen first and two second year students undertook the project over a six week period. During this time they conducted the necessary historical research to lodge a formal ‘C’ Classification Application with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. They also investigated the needs of the citizens of Onehunga (an Auckland suburb), conducting random interviews and facilitating four public meetings (advertised in English, Maori and Samoan languages), making design recommendations for the eventual refurbishment of the Community House. Their recommendations were condensed into a comprehensive 176 page report, The Onehunga Community House in November 1991, containing the Historic Trust Application, a structural report, together with design guidelines for the refurbishment of the Community House.
In February of 1992, it seemed that the New Zealand contestant in the America’s Cup yachting race off San Diego might succeed in bringing the trophy back to New Zealand. Should this have occurred, substantial preparations and modifications would have been necessary for Auckland’s waterfront area in preparation for a cup defence. During the first term, beginning in March, twenty-two senior students embarked upon a research and planning process to investigate the feasibility of holding the America’s Cup in Auckland. Over a period of ten weeks, the students systematically and critically investigated issues of waterfront access, public transportation, recreational vs industrial uses of the waterfront, pre-colonial occupation and land uses, and myriad other aspects of the waterfront. They also conducted research into waterfront developments in other countries and cities. The research involved extensive reading, on-site study and extensive community interviews. What evolved from this study was an understanding of the possible role which the waterfront area might play in the revitalisation of the urban centre, particularly as an urban recreational -residential high density development. In the first term, the students produced a 6m x 2m model of the entire inner city waterfront area at 1:200 scale, and this was displayed in numerous public exhibitions where follow-up questionnaires solicited public reaction to the proposals. The final urban design proposal included a multi-level transportation interchange (Later to become known as The Britomart Project), a Maori cultural centre on one of the inner-city wharves, design proposals for two inner city urban villages at high densities and catering for energy efficiency and conservation, embracing the city core and linked by a green belt parkway which extended beyond the city centre to waterfront suburbs to the East and West. One of these villages, located on a previously toxic chemical storage facility was the subject of a thorough cost analysis, to demonstrate the economic feasibility of high-density canal housing in an urban setting.
The design exhibition of the scheme was visited by the Mayor of Auckland, Les Mills, the Chief Executive, Bruce Anderson, the Director of Works, Davis Stubbs, the Chair of the Planning Committee Patricia Thorpe and the Chief Planner, John Betts, together with staff from the Waterfront Development Team.
As a result of the breadth and depth of the study, a great many of the student proposals were later taken up by the Auckland City Council, (who paid for the 340 page design report) and incorporated into their redevelopment proposals for the city’s waterfront.
The design and its report were chosen, By the Architects, Designers and Planners of Social Responsibility (ADPSR) as exemplifying the very best aspects of Socially Responsible Design at an international competition and exhibition at New York’s Pratt Institute in March 1993.
In the first term of 1993, the Community Design Studio was approached by the Board of Trustees of the Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland to design New Zealand’s very first Maori secondary school, in which the language of instruction and the pedagogical practice would be Maori. Twelve students, all but one of whom was Maori, from all years of the Department of Architecture, and including two Maori students from Engineering, participated in a collective design for the kura, in association with the Ministry of Education’s own design consultants. The students were completely responsible for the development of the brief, the conceptual design and the developed design stages, prior to working drawings. The project took 10 weeks and was carried to a most successful conclusion. Students who had worked on the project in studio went on to work on the production drawing stages of the project. With very minor modifications the design has now been completed and occupied for fourteen years, and has become the template by which the Ministry of Education now addresses Kura Kaupapa Schools. Some of the students who worked on this project went on to design other Kura Kaupapa Schools for Iwi in co-operation with the Ministry of Education
Epsom Girls Grammar School: (1993)
For the second term of 1993, the Community Design Studio was invited by the Board of Trustees of the Epsom Girl’s Grammar School to develop a comprehensive development plan for the school. Since its inception almost a century ago, EGGS had developed in a haphazard and random way, with little forethought or future planning. The school role increased by 50 percent, and the extra space had been provided by a series of temporary prefabricated classroom units that were less than adequate to the needs of the school community. The Studio’s brief was to develop a rationalised programme of development for the school’s physical resources and to include into this proposals for a new Creative Arts complex, a purpose-built teaching block, and improved administration and recreational facilities. The project took sixteen weeks to take to developed design stage - including cost analyses, detailed building specifications and acoustic studies. It culminated in the production of a 1:200 scale model of the entire campus, showing details of the design proposals which could be interchanged with model components “as existing” to allow for the client group, the Board of Trustees, to fully grasp the “before” and “after” quality of the design as it might be implemented on a phased development programme.
The Development Plan was the guiding document for the School for eight years, and shaped new buildings such as the Music Faculty, the Technology Building and the redevelopment of the residential Hostel.
Otara is a suburb of South Auckland inhabited predominantly by Pacific Island and Maori people. The township is satellite to Auckland and comprises a swath of often-neglected State housing clustered around an outdated shopping centre, much tagged by the local youth whose opposed gangs divide along ethnic lines and are modelled on the Cripps and Bloods of Los Angeles. Otara provided the location for the renowned New Zealand film, Once Were Warriors. Its statistics are depressing. It boasts the highest truancy, unemployment and crime rates in the Auckland region, and has the greatest number of disaffected young people of any area of New Zealand. Its public image is very poor. In an attempt to “turn around” the Otara economy, and to attract investment into the community, a group of local business, civic and church leaders in 1993 formed Enterprise Otara - an organisation whose mission statement was to reverse the social, economic and spiritual image of the town by building upon the rich and colourful resources and talents of the people of Otara themselves. An essential part of this revitalisation process was the production of refurbishment and redevelopment proposals for the existing shopping centre which is the heart of the community. The Community Design was commissioned by the Manukau City Council (Otara’s legislative body) to do this work. The project ran for 24 weeks and involved some major advances to community design theory and practice. Two aspects were significant:
The studio was established in the shopping centre itself and was located in a shop in the heart of the complex. Students maintained an open-door policy, encouraging members of the local community to “drop in” at any time to see how the project was progressing and to offer their advice and design ideas. Continual surveys were conducted in English, Maori, Samoan, Tongan and Nueian languages and design ideas contributed from the community were modeled on a developing 1:200 scale model of the area.
At the insistence of the author, eight long-term unemployed youth from the local community (Maori, Tongan, Samoan and Nueian) were employed, through government subsidised work-training schemes as equal members of the design team. They, together with the twenty university students enrolled in the course, produced a design which was justly acclaimed by the Manukau Council as well as by Enterprise Otara. The Otara members of the design team worked on an equal basis with the university students and, by the end of the project were producing design drawings which were indistinguishable from students who had had two or three previous years of design tuition. At the conclusion of the project, four of the eight were accepted into tertiary education while a fifth now works as a member of, a Pacific Island design consultancy working full-time for the Auckland City Council.
The design guidelines developed in the class helped to shape the later design of a new Recreational complex designed by Jasmax Architects.
Te Whare Hauora ki Makaurau Marae (Alternative Maori Health Centre) (1995)
The Tainui Makaurau Marae in Mangere developed a proposal for a new alternative Maori Health Centre specifically to address the needs of the Maori community. These health needs were not confined to purely medical or surgical areas of knowledge but are more holistic - taking in issues of unemployment, cultural alienation, raupatu (confiscated) land alienation and so on. Initially the project was slated for a corner site in the vicinity but slightly distant from the Marae's Whare Nui. This site proved to be spatially inadequate to the needs of the community and alternative range of proposals were developed, each of which required members of the tribe to relinquish privately-owned properties to the Marae in exchange for properties elsewhere. Extensive modelling of alternative proposals eventually led the designation of a site immediately adjacent to the Whare Nui, on which an initial accommodation including a Whare Oranga (gymnasium), aerobics room, doctor's surgery, creche, cafe and ancillary changing rooms (together with an area designated for specific traditional Maori healing practices. Twenty students worked for ten weeks of the Second Term, and presented their final design at the Marae. The project involved the production of a comprehensive design report together with a cost breakdown for the development.
In 1990, I was approached by senior staff at Housing New Zealand who asked if I would commit the Community Design Studio to an experimental housing project. The task was to design an affordable terraced house that moved beyond the generic Housing New Zealand models. The site for the experiment was a small lot in Ponsonby's Franklin Rd. The project ran for one semester and involved twelve undergraduate students in developing individual designs. The final design was an amalgam of the best qualities of each. The designs were reviewed and evaluated by the Minister of Housing, Helen Clark at the School of Architecture. Sadly, the most innovative of the student ideas - to move beyond the Eurocentric model of the nuclear family and to design for larger social units - extended whanau or hapu, with shared facilities and common space was not taken up by Housing New Zealand. The idea was too advanced for its time and has more currency today, even with housing New Zealand.
Freemans Bay Housing Project (1996)
In 1996, the Auckland City Council decided to sell its housing stock. This portfolio involved some 650 units of housing scattered throughout Auckland and mostly occupied by low-income single-parents, beneficiaries etc. A large number of these units were located in Freemans Bay on valuable inner-city land, and the City Council, motivated by the vision of a financial bonanza, decided to give the existing tenants notice, to individualise the titles and then to sell the individual units to young professionals. Freemans Bay was at this time a culturally diverse community, and some of the residents asked if the Community Design Studio might help save their community. This initiated the formation of New Zealand’s first Housing Association – the Auckland Housing Association Trust, of which the author was the first Chair. The Trust acquired $35,000 of Government funding to develop proposals and students in the Community Design Studio developed plans and models for the redevelopment of the Freemans Bay housing that would facilitate a tenant-buyout. The AHAT subsequently purchased a number of units, and the sale of the remainder was put on hold with the election of a new Council.
Parihaka Pa in Taranaki was the home of the two renowned Maori chiefs te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi. Te Whiti and Tohu were responsible, in the late 1870s, for developing a policy of civil disobedience and passive resistance to the colonisation and confiscation of their Taranaki home. They are justly famous, and their Marae at Parihaka Pa are places of great mana and respect throughout Maoridom. Te Pae Pae o Te Raukura is the house where a great many of the decisions of that time where made. It was the Council house of the main Whare Te Raukura, which burned down in 1960. Te Pae Pae is a place of great reverence, but looks deceptively informal and ad hoc - having been extended several times over the years with great love but few resources. In the Spring Semester of 1996, the Community design Studio was asked by the Trustees of Parihaka Pa to develop designs for the refurbishment and expansion of Te Pae Pae - a singular honour. Over twelve weeks, fifteen students from years 2, 3, 4 and 5 worked co-operatively to design the new and extended building, being careful to respect those aspects of Te Pae Pae of particular significance, and integrating these into a new design which would double the capacity of the Marae. We were proud, at the end of the project, to receive word from the Trustees of their delight in their new design, and inviting us to develop a long-term working relationship to our mutual satisfaction. In addition to the design for Te Pae Pae, the students produced a scale model of the 49 acre Pa to be used by the Trustees for future development planning. The model measured 4.8m x 2.4m. The whole project was the subject of a 15 minute documentary programme which ran on TVNZ.
Mangatangi Marae Project, Waikato (1998)
In March 1998, the Trustees of the Mangatangi Marae Trust Board South of Auckland approached the Community Design Studio and requested that we design for them a new Whare Hui or Meeting House. The Marae had been initiated earlier this Century by Princess Te Puia of the Tainui Kingitanga. The original house had fallen into disrepair and had been replaced by a series of “temporary” buildings from the local military establishment etc. Now the Marae Trust wished to see the construction of a new and permanent House. Our initial investigations uncovered deeper issues - significant amongst which was the economy of the Marae. As in many indigenous communities, younger members have migrated to the cities in search of work. This has left the Marae in the hands of the elders, with no younger members coming through to keep the cultural heart and language of the community alive. As in many other cases, the future existence of the Marae depended critically not only upon a new House - which would be a symbolic statement of purpose for the future, but in the development of a Marae economy - the creation of jobs, the reduction or elimination of running and maintenance costs etc.
Over 12 weeks, a group of 3rd and 4th Year students developed a Marae Development Plan for the Marae, taking into account important issues of Conservation, Sustainability, Energy Efficiency, and Sweat Equity possibilities. The work included proposals for a mini-hydro-electric system on the nearby stream, the production of adobe bricks for Marae and for commercial use, the introduction of composting toilets and solar heating etc. Students designed a new Whare Hui, a Whare Kai (dining house), a Whare Paku (toilet block) a Kohanga Reo (Preschool), a Whare Whakairo (carving school) and an Eco-Tourism facility. The work was taken to developed design stage, complete with cost estimates provided by a registered Quantity Surveyor. A Design Report was produced that is being used for fundraising and Grant applications.
Ruapotaka Marae, Glen Innes (1999)
Ruapotaka Marae in Glen Innes functions as a multi-cultural urban Marae on the edge of a Reserve in a low economic suburb of Auckland. The Marae Committee determined that they needed to improve and extend their facilities and to try to internalise the economy of its users.
To this end, fifteen Third Year students developed four different group design alternatives for presentation to the Marae Committee. Shortly after the project, the Marae Committee changed and the proposals were put on hold. They included the addition of a Kohanga Reo, a Kura Kaupapa Maori unit, a Communinty Hall and a new Whare Hui, all together with extensive site development proposals. Two design alternatives were produced for the client, each set in a large-scale model of the surrounding environment.
Design of an Affordable Maori Housing Alternative (1999) (First Year Project)
Shortly after the floods in Panguru in the Hokianga, the Community Design Studio turned its attention to Maori Housing. Extensive research into the available housing models indicated that current commercial prototypes were unaffordable and unsustainable. A class of fifteen first year students therefore set out to design a house for rural Maoridom which would be both environmentally sustainable and economically affordable. The budget set after calculating average disposable incomes was $35,000. This was accomplished. It was important that sustainability issues were addressed since the disposable income of the target group would not allow for high maintenance or running costs
Over a period of 15 months from March 2000 to June 2001, a series of classes developed a $20M redevelopment project at the Te Puia Springs Hospital on the East Coast. Two of these classes involved both Architecture and Planning students in the Joint Whaihanga Project. The process included a comprehensive survey of the Hospital and its environment, an environmental and energy audit of the facility, a series of facilitated workshops on the East Coast with staff and clients of the Hauora, and finally a comprehensive design for a 25 year development programme carried out in 6 independent phases. Many of the proposals involved “internalising the economy” of the hospital to generate capital for redevelopment works. Development proposals included:
· The design of a new thermal pool complex for recreational and therapeutic use, and operating as the basis of a start-up programme in Health Tourism.
· New Workshops and Maintenance facilities
· A New staff lunch room and kitchen
· A redeveloped maternity wing with its own birthing pool.
· A new Accident and Emergency wing with new garaging for two ambulances.
· A new Administration complex, centralised but separate from the main circulation of the hospital.
· New Main Entrance with an internal Atrium housing Child Care, a Cafeteria, a Whanau Room.
All of this was done with respect for Tikanga Maori (Maori tradition) and with the requirement to create a truly Maori (as opposed to Pakeha) healing environment. Students who had developed the design proposals then went on to complete a Design Report, together with a cost analysis, and to convert the drawings to Archicad (a computer-aided design system) so that the client (or their eventual architects) could begin work with a pre-established electronic design medium.
Development Brief, Glenfield Community Centre (2001)
Glenfield Community Centre houses a number of community advocacy agencies, including a food bank, counselling services etc. These services have now outgrown the building envelope. The Board approached the Community Design Studio to design a comprehensive redevelopment proposal. In preparation, students undertook a site analysis and developed a design brief, preparatory to developing the design in a Summer School programme in 2002.
In almost all of these projects, costs of extra tutoring, materials, transportation, document production and consumables have been paid for by the client groups involved. (a cost that was far less than the design fees they would normally have incuurred if the work had been carried out by an architectural practice). The Community Design Studio worked on a cost-recovery basis with its clients. Local projects were usually be completed for about $10,000. More distant projects (such as those in Taranaki or the East Coast) cost about $15,000. Of the twenty or so projects that were completed in the Community Design Studio over sixteen years, contributions from client groups to the School of Architecture budget totalled somewhere between $200,000 to $250,000. In all cases client satisfaction was high, and the School of Architecture recceived many letters expressing the gratitude of community groups for the services they were rendered.In 2001 the Community design Studio wass dismantled following my resignation and move to the Maori University – Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi - in Whakatane to take up my new position as Director of Programme Development.
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