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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Finalist: Karl Poland

Karl Poland from Waipapa Taumata Rau, The University of Auckland, Te Pare School of Architecture and Planning is a finalist for project 'Architechur Bro'.

Project description

This project explores the architect as being not merely a designer of buildings, but a designer of worlds, a designer of dreams or, as Mark Wigley puts it, an “activist synthesiser of various forms of knowledge and an elegant commentator of the world”. This project’s creator navigates what it means to make architecture in Aotearoa New Zealand by subverting its architectural history to produce an intertextual product of the South Pacific, titled Architechur Bro.

Architechur Bro destabilises 'New Zealand architecture' itself. It employs a three-part practice: 'Cut-Copy-Paste', 'Collision' and 'Commentary'.

Exploiting reality and fiction, the project subverts both the literal and metaphorical 'ground' from the get-go. But the theoretical ground is held up by Wigley, an acclaimed alumnus of Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland's School of Architecture. Wigley diagnoses Aotearoa New Zealand as “a dreamworld uncorrupted by architecture", eliciting “not a certain architecture” but a "certain resistance to architecture". To try to understand 'New Zealand architecture’, Wigley goes back to the beginning, back to the Garden of Eden. Aotearoa is a garden that is not 100% Pure; disguising a garden that can be corrupted by a metaphorical snake. This project plays the role of the snake.

Architechur Bro culminates in a speculative project landing on a contested site – Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland's Queens Wharf. A found condition, a testing ground and a failed site haunted by the nickname 'The People's Wharf'. Home to Michael Parekōwhai's faux state house, the industrial Shed 10 and Jasmax's past-its-used-by ‘cloud’ structure, the wharf acts as a provocateur – exaggerated to an appendage clipped onto reclaimed land. Drawn as a single line and modelled with a translucent table, it may vanish into thin air. But like a table, this project relies on it, as without the wharf, this site-specific scheme would topple over and drown.

Jury citation

A huge amount of energy and enthusiasm has been applied to reducing architecture into compartments, then critiquing them with intelligence. Well-recognised symbols have been extruded, joined back together with different outcomes, then used to take a good long laugh at ourselves.

The presenter is deep into process and critique, draws this out with humour and clearly has great fun with it. Numerous references that are sacred to New Zealanders have been upturned by satire. With wit and conjecture, this deserves to be presented to a much wider forum.

This reorganisation of buildings and concepts into a new idea tells a story about how New Zealand has failed, as well as succeeded. This fabulous work of critique is rich in architecture references, while also being accessible to anyone unfamiliar with the built landscape and people behind it.

There is talent for using humour and satire as an entry point for making architecture accessible to a wider audience. There is strength in conceptual thinking and a generosity of storytelling. The joy behind it has a place in practice, critiquing, presenting and writing about architecture.