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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Chirag Jindal, finalist

Chirag Jindal

Photo by Simon Wilson


Chirag Jindal, from the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning, was a finalist for his project Into the ‘Underworld: The Architecture of Katabasis’.

Project description

Aucklanders are only vaguely aware of the volcanic heritage beneath their feet, but lava caves lie under the soil in suburbs around the isthmus. This exercise in ‘katabasis’ – descent into the underworld – is focused on caves under Three Kings. A walkway threaded through the caves facilitates an underground journey of discovery, and raises interesting questions about intervening in such an environment (and passing through it). The photogrammetric scanning of the caves, that was integral to the project, has produced striking and haunting images of the hollow spaces framed by the scoria residue from an explosive event.


An intrepid and sustained exercise in subterranean photogrammetric mapping underpins this exhilarating project that explores uncharted territory under an Auckland suburb. The author has ventured beneath the surface – with trained speleologists – to pick his way through lava caves underneath one of the city’s extinct (we hope) volcanoes. Modest architectural interventions are proposed to enable visitors to experience a journey into the underworld.

Other finalists