Design Studio IIIB – Tuakiri
tuakiri – dwelling well

Learning Outcomes Student Blogs

Course Description:

In this studio course students will negotiate a critical position through individual or collaborative professional practices, with opportunities to apply their specialist skills to a range of contexts. In addition to advancing spatial design concepts, techniques, skills and processes in the production of their creative work, students will develop and apply transferable skills relevant to professional environments.


This project addresses the ways in which houses, or dwellings, support the identity and wellbeing of their inhabitants. You will consider identity and wellbeing both in the project, and in the way you practice.

Your identity, and the identities of others, are shaped by various factors or influences. Identity (including gender/class/ethnicity) affects the positions that you take up; it also affects the positions of ourselves and others within interactions and communication. What are the contemporary influences and factors that condition your approaches? How do these impact on your own position or the positions of others you might work with? How might these be organised within society?

You will participate in and reflect on four interdisciplinary EXCHANGE sessions.

Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria checklist:

assessment criteria

358 checklist


“Today there is a crisis, not just in access to and affordability of housing in New Zealand, but in the quality of our housing. […] This has serious implications for health, social cohesion and the economy.”

Phillipa Howden-Chapman, Home Truths: Confronting New Zealand’s Housing Crisis, Wellington, Bridget William Books, 2015, p. 1.

“New Zealand must have its own architecture, its own sense of what is beautiful and appropriate to our climate and conditions.”

The Architectural Group, on the necessity for architecture: The Manifesto of the Architectural Group, Auckland, 1946.

In this project you will work individually and collaboratively to re-imagine dwellings for healthy people and places, responding to local sites and situations. This project is in three parts:

_In Part 1 (weeks 1-4) you will undertake pre-design research on a given site on Matairangi (Mount Victoria), as well as a series of excercises on tectonics – the “poetics of construction“[1].

_In Part 2 (weeks 5-12) you will design a dwelling on this site that considers the relationship between the site, dwelling, inhabitants and wider community in relation to identity and wellbeing. How might your dwelling be a “machine for living in“[2] or “a framework in which our lives are lived“[3]? Your design decisions will be informed by research into contemporary best practice for healthy, energy efficient, sustainable or regenerative buildings that exceed current NZ building codes and explore emerging technologies. How is your dwelling “conceived within the spirit of our time“[4]? The design process for this project will be modelled off architectural or interior design conventions of professional practice, including deliverables for elements of Concept Design (sketch proposal), Developed Design (resolved proposal) and Detail Design (construction documentation).

_In Part 3 (week 13) you will reflect on your project, your practice, and the way in which you engaged with people through both of these. Part 3 includes Exchange reflections.

1 Chad Schwartz, Introducing Architectural Tectonics: Exploring the Intersection of Design and Construction. Taylor & Francis, 2016, p. i.

2 Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, 1920.

3 Ernst Plischke, Design and Living, Wellington, Dep. of Internal Affairs, 1947, p. 31.

Announcement of the Case Study House Program, Arts and Architecture, 1945.

Week 1.1

PRE-DESIGN: Intro & Site visit

We will be going for a walk to visit our site for the semester, so please bring walking shoes that can get muddy, and suitable clothing for cold, wind and rain. You will also want to bring a sketchbook and decent pen/pencil


  • site analysis
  • contextual research (including ownership/governance and historical narratives)
  • identity/wellbeing concerns of our time and place

Blog links:

Week 1.2

Today we:

Discussed the findings and analysis that people completed including, social, cultural, community, land and land use, architectural concerns and conditions, histories, vegetation, destination Wellington, site conditions.

Made A3 responses to the explorations and discussions conducted over the week, identifying areas of current interest framed by ideas of identity and wellbeing.  These could become seed projects and will be shared at some point next week.


-Look at Revit and or Vectorworks tutorials on the Spatial website to reacquaint yourself with these programs.

-Continue site analysis and exploration of the site and ideas of wellbeing and identity.

Week 2 – Floor

Session 1

Tectonics: Floor (kaupapa)

In this session, we will

  • explore different types of floor and foundation construction
  • introduce materials and structure (e.g. timber, concrete, steel, other)
  • consider the properties, affordances and experience (e.g. thermal mass, comfort, functionality/use, durability/maintenance, aesthetics)
  • consider the relationship to ground.

For Friday: Design a platform that responds to the site and considers an aspect of wellbeing or identity. Consider:

  • what is the construction (foundations/subfloor/floor)?
  • what spatial programme does it support (e.g. viewing, resting, exercising, camping, dining…)?
  • what is its relationship to the ground/site?
  • work individually or in groups to model your site & platform (CAD and physical model)

Session 2

Tectonics: Floor (poetic response)

  • introduce to different floors and relationships to place
  • Share propositions in response to independent study (platform)
  • introduce floor as platform for performance/movement

Exercise: – distil a movement from your site analysis / spatial programme, re-perform it in space (considering dimensions), re-design platform in response to movement (movement-landscape, introducing verticality), draw as a floor plan

Presentations with notes: 358_week 2_movementWeek 2 – Floors (Read-Only)

Week 3 – Wall

Session 1

Tectonics: Wall (tuakiri)

In this session, we will

  • explore different types of wall construction
  • introduce materials and structure, with a focus on timber framed walls
  • consider the properties, affordances and experience (e.g. weatherproof and thermal envelope, , insulation/comfort, durability/maintenance, aesthetics)
  • consider the relationship to street/surroundings

For Friday: Design some walls to enclose your platform. Focus on one wall, with a window or door opening, to detail up in section. Consider:

  • what does its exterior project in terms of identity in relation to the surroundings?
  • what does its construction (internal composition) afford in terms of comfort and wellbeing?
  • what does its lining afford in terms of use and experience?
  • how do the overall dimensions (height, width, depth) of the wall and opening impact on the experience of the inhabitant?

Session 2

Tectonics: Wall (poetic response)

Week 4 – Roof and technical drawings

Session 1

Tectonics: Roof

For Friday: Work on technical drawing set (site plan, floor plan, elevation, section)

Session 2

Working session: technical drawings and folio pages

Deliverables – Monday Week 5, 5pm:

Submit A3 folio pages from Wk1-4 and technical drawing set

Week 5 – Brief and concept design

Session 1

From this point forward we will be running the sessions as studios. This means bring everything you need in order to do productive design work (drawing, making, testing etc). Use the studio as you need; don’t wait for instruction.

By the end of Week 6 you should have concept design(s) ready for presentation. Think of this as a client sign-off point where a concept would be agreed upon for development. How much information would the client need to see in order to understand the design?

Session 2

Studio. Aim to have initial concept visuals ready to share by 11am.

11am architect Caroline Robertson from Spacecraft Architects will be coming to talk to you about the Dog Box project completed with fellow architecture grads Patchwork Architects in 2012. Check out the project and their website for other projects you may be interested to ask questions about. What do you want to share if there is an opportunity for feedback on your own design concepts?

12pm Exchange: Locate

Independent Study week 5/6:

  • By the end of this week (start of Tuesday Week 6) you should all have:
    • located your proposed site
    • outlined a brief (including any particular parameters you are working to) and spatial programme (what spaces are needed in response to the brief; what do these spaces need to do or what activities do they support?)
    • started working up some design concepts that respond to the site, parameters and programme
  • For Tuesday, bring a visual summary of the above as 1-3 A3 pages that should include initial sketches of your design concept(s) and clearly communicate the purpose/programme. You may also have models or material explorations, e.g. if your design process is being driven by materials this may be a main focus.

Week 6 – Concept design presentation/workshop

Session 1On Tuesday we will:

  • use the work that you bring (see above) to identify some clusters for Friday’s presentation/workshop, based on similar design briefs or spatial programmes
  • agree on the format of that presentation/workshop
  • continue to work up your concept designs and A3 boards for Friday’s check point

Session 2

Presentation/workshop: Concept Design
Format to be agreed.

By the end of this session you will have selected a concept design to develop over the study break. In order to make this decision you will need to have tested whether this concept is feasible in response to your site, parameters and spatial programme. What you will be presenting is therefore more than just an initial idea, it is a worked-through design concept that you are happy (excited, even!) to proceed with, or perhaps more than one option to choose from.


Week 7- Developing your concept

Session 1

In studio today we talked through what the concept designs that were presented in week 6 included and strategies to develop these towards the ‘developed design’ presentation in week 8.

Bring to studio on Friday, printed out and ready at 9 am 3-5 images that describe your ‘developing’ design.  These are a curated set of images that capture something of the site, materiality, layout and key conceptual ideas with in your project.  These will be different for everyone.

Last modified: September 12, 2017