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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Scavenger Hunt

by Evana Chan

Rumbling through the bushes. Checking the underside of leaves. Jogging with my studio buddies to the next hidden corner of our land.

“Let’s check out the workshop downstairs! I feel like they’d hide them there.” 

So we jog down the staircase, careful not to trip over the crawling vines. We wafted through the dusty glass door into the workshop. I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander for not the next Easter egg, but the next clue of a building’s personality. I discovered the beam above, holding the building together in its almightiness. Its wisdom undeniably bleeds through its aged colour, with the contrasted silvery grey bolts sticking out. 

“The building is a machine made with skin and sticks.” Our previous history lesson echoes in my head. I try my best to dig through the architect’s infinite folds of thoughts. The beam is exposed by the lack of ‘architecture skin’. What was the reason for this design choice? What was their story and where are they now? 

Snatched! Another one was added to the humble scavenger’s basket.

My friends and I continue to walk around the workshop. I notice that a feeling of welcomeness and creative motivation buzzes in me. How can that be? The workshop is congested with equipment at every hip’s turn. Yet, the overflow doesn’t choke me at all. The architecture above my upoko (head) holds the answer once again. The ceiling height staggers above, spaced away by at least twice my height. That is why my upoko breathes freely, with every breath flowing out a drop of creative endeavour. 

Snatched! My scavenger basket gets heavier by the minute.

“Maybe they didn’t hide anything in the workshop. I think our next best bet would be level 3. Let’s go, guys!” So, we call for our trusty yellow elevator. Tick tock. Tick tock. Level 5, level 4, level 3 — “It sure is taking its time”. The unforgiving yellow cladding blasts in our faces in the meanwhile — why did they choose that colour?


Level 2, level 1. The elevator opens. The masterful mechanical workings of the elevator make their way upward and the doors open once again, with level 3 seemingly teleported in front of us. We are greeted by an intriguing mezzanine corridor. As we travel slowly through it, the light that’s bouncing off the maroon carpet in the exhibition space below makes the corridor glow. “What a fantastic way to connect the floors together! The bird’s-eye view of our crits space makes me feel like a god.” The mezzanine is a delightful element of the School of Architecture and Planning!

Snatched! Snatched! Snatched!

My love for architecture invites me to observe, and learn through my intriguing findings. My upoko is constantly flowing with curiosity, and filling my basket with architecture observations to rave about!


This essay was highly commended in the Rangatahi category of the 2022 Warren Trust Awards for Architectural Writing.

Photo: Workshop by Lachlan Donald from Unsplash