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1 November 2014

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Architecture students work on real life projects

Architecture students work on real life projects

Third and fourth year students from the Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland are thrown into the real world of architecture for a complete academic year thanks to the Studio 19 programme.

Studio 19 is run by Old Collegian David Strachan (School and Hamilton 1967-1971) through his firm, Strachan Group Architects. The programme draws tertiary students away from theoretical study and places them in an environment where they can live and breathe their future profession.

“It is very important for students’ education in terms of preparing them for the real world and architectural profession,” Strachan says.

Sixteen students design, document and build a real project on a real site for real clients. Strachan and colleague Pat de Pont, both registered architects, guide students from concept to completion.

“The experience of designing something at a conceptual stage, discovering the implications of that design and then actually building the details they have designed is invaluable,” explained Strachan.

Studio 19’s client base ranges from not-for-profit organisations like KidsCan and VisionWest Community Trust to private clients.

This year students have been working for a private client, Ngāti Whātua O Ōrākei, to design a master plan of eight houses for elderly tribe members. One of these houses is being documented and built by the students.

Now entering the final stage of the Kaumatua Housing project, the construction stage, students are given the opportunity to work with Strachan’s two builder sons James and Fraser Strachan and other construction industry professionals.

“It gives our students a good introduction and appreciation of other members of the construction industry and gives them the opportunity to learn how to communicate in that industry.”

Since launching the project seven years ago, Strachan and his Studio 19 students have been awarded a number of New Zealand Institute of Architecture Awards.

The 2012 Studio 19 project was awarded two NZIA awards (Housing and Sustainable Architecture) for a VisionWest community housing project. Students built a time effective and cost effective community house that requires virtually no heating.

The strong reputation of the programme has helped many Studio 19 students secure employment once graduating from the Unitec School of Architecture.

“Many fellow architects source students from the project under our recommendation and there are currently four past Studio 19 students working full-time in my practice.”

(Source: Karen Pickering)