Design Studio IIIA_Tautoko_2021

Tautoko (Ass.1)

Reminder: this is a 30 credit course, with an expected workload of 20 hours per week, comprising: 

  • 6 hours of class/studio time each week on Tuesdays and Fridays 9-12
  • 14 hours of independent study per week (average of 7 hours between studio sessions)

supporting transformational learning

Kōrerotia ka wareware         
Whakatūngia ka mahara        
Whakamahia ka mohio         

Tell me and I will forget
Write it down for me and I will remember
Involve me and I will understand

—Frontispiece to Tony Watkins, The Human House, 2009

note re quote:
We had an interesting discussion about this quote in the first iteration of this project in 2019. A group of students discovered that the above text is not a Māori whakatauki (proverb/saying) but originates from a Chinese proverb that was adapted by Benjamin Franklin and then translated into Te Reo Māori, possibly by Tony Watkins or someone he engaged to do so. Each translation slightly shifts the meaning – “may remember” changes to “will remember”, and the Te Reo Māori translation for “write it down” could be read as “establish it” or “build it”. This highlights questions around translation, meaning, and context in relation to culture, time and place that are all key considerations as we move forward in this project.

Project Overview: Facilitating narratives of Māori STEM learning through Spatial Design

This project aims to support the kaupapa (agenda) of the Pūhoro STEM Academy – supporting young Māori students in their journey toward careers in science and technology – through designing a mobile space for transformational learning that integrates hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning with local (place-based) cultural narratives. We will explore how a space can embody and transport past, present and future stories that inform how we care for ecologies and enhance the wellbeing of people and places.

“[We] have forgotten how to hear, communicate, and participate in meaning making with our places on the living earth.”

— Gruenewald, Foundations of Place, American Educational Research Journal, Autumn 2003, p.624


Tautoko is to demonstrate support or advocate for, and implies a level of consensus, however this goes beyond simplistic notions of support. Tautoko can be used as a means to define/refine exactly what it is you or your group is offering its support to – in this way it includes the negotiation of positions.

What discourses or positions do you, and those you work with, bring to the table in collaborative projects? How do you build on these discourses in an inclusive and cohesive way without undermining another’s, or your own position/approach?


In groups, you will design a mobile science/story lab for Pūhoro. The lab is to be equipped with the tools necessary to inspire and enact a science learning experience based around a pūrākau – a Māori narrative. The lab will travel to regional kura (schools) around Aotearoa.

Part 1: Generate spatial design concepts
What can spatial design offer to support this kaupapa (agenda) and mahi (work)? Through drawing, model-making and 1:1 explorations, develop a series of design concepts in response to the brief and pūrākau.

Part 2: Develop a design proposal in collaboration with the clients
Work with the clients to select and develop your design concept through drawing, making, testing, kōrero (discussion) and iteration.

Part 3: Refine and communicate the design proposal
Further develop a well resolved design proposal that responds to the kaupapa, embodies a clear design concept, considers how the experience unfolds over time, and supports this experience through the design of the space (materials, construction, atmosphere, systems e.g. light, sound, digital). Develop material that communicates this via a multimedia presentation and a visual booklet for the clients.

Project Brief and Schedule:

link to brief

link to schedule

Week One: intro, meet clients, group exercise

For Tuesday: please read the brief and the reading Introduction to Māori Perspectives: Ranginui and Papatūānuku.

Tuesday: Introduction to project, brief and clients. Form groups. Workshop initial responses – spatial/experiential storytelling.

For Friday:

  • group activity: experiential story-building in response to your common connection to an environmental element/atua.
    • create a shared experience
    • capture the story of that experience via various media – e.g. sound, video, photography, drawing, writing, making, materials, etc…
    • explore how you might tell or recreate the experience of that story in the studio / prototyping space (to be discussed) – for Friday, come prepared with sketch concepts
  • reading: do the assigned reading (more info to come) and discuss as a group
    • extract key concepts/ideas/strategies to share in studio on Friday
  • blog & form: set up blog and submit blog form (individual) – link to form here
Clinic: generating atmosphere through light, sound and movement
Wednesday 4.30-5.30pm, 10C19

Friday: Discussion in response to readings. Workshopping of installation/experience concepts through drawing, sketch models, 1:1 testing.

For Tuesday Week 2:

  • storytelling installation: as groups, develop your 1:1 installation/experience that tells or recreates the narrative of your group experience of connection to your group’s environmental element
    • parameters:
      • installation must be easy to set up and take down to allow for quick changeover between groups in the studio / prototyping space
      • duration of audience experience – 3 minutes
      • use available or easy-to-source equipment and materials (can be ‘lo-fi’, not expecting significant financial outlay on materials)
      • communicative / evocative experience that doesn’t require verbal explanation
  • readings: as individuals, spend some time exploring more of the readings to help develop a critical framework for the project
    • post responses/reflections on your blog
  • precedent research: explore and analyse works of art, design, storytelling and participatory/learning spaces that extend your understanding of the spatial possibilities…
    • post responses/reflections on your blog

Week Two: share experiences with clients, generate initial concepts

Tuesday: present group experiences

Clinic: setting up your bus Sketchup model
Wednesday 4.30-5.30pm, 11A26/Zoom

Friday: set up 1:1 bus prototyping space, drawing exercise (part one: drawing the atmospheric qualities of your Atua/element; part two: thinking-through-drawing for idea generation)

 For Tuesday Week 3:

  • initial concept generation drawing: Keep working into your drawing from Friday’s session to ‘draw out’ the key ideas that you want to discuss with the Pūhoro team. Try and put all of your thinking on this drawing so that it can be the centre of your discussion with them on Tuesday. Draw attention to key ideas as they emerge.
  • wk1-2 content to share with off-site students: As discussed we want to show support (tautoko) and form collaborative relationships with your classmates who are studying from China – Angus, Jiayi and Tinghao. Please put any material you have from weeks one and two into your group’s folder in the shared google drive folder to share with them. This includes documentation of your group experience in nature and the re-presentation of that experience last Tuesday, as well as any raw material/content you have collected or generated.
  • precedent research: Continue your own precedent research in a way that feels useful to you. Note that it is unlikely that you will find many (or any) examples of this kind of project, as it has not necessarily been done before (which is what makes it so exciting!). You might want to look at examples of different aspects e.g. bus fitouts/modifications, mobile STEM/learning ‘labs’, immersive storytelling and learning experiences, installation artworks or performances that create immersive experiences of natural atmospheric qualities, etc.

Week Three: present initial concepts, select concept and pūrākau-based activity, iterate design concept

Tuesday: present and discuss initial concepts, aim to select a concept to develop by the end of the session, including a pūrākau and associated STEM learning aim/activity.

Wednesday 4.30-5.30pm, 11A26/Zoom

Last modified: March 8, 2021