Architecture students are a busy and devoted bunch. In light of such devotion it should come of no considerable surprise that 60 of the country’s finest, rocking laptop tans and pepped up to their eyeballs on No-Doze would dedicate the best part of 24 hours to a furiously paced design competition – 36 of whom travelled the length of the North Island on the train to do so!
Last Friday 6th and Saturday 7th August saw these students converge at Unitec school of architecture in Auckland to compete in the annual Superstudio competition. Organised by SONA in Australia and SANNZ (Student Architecture Network New Zealand) in New Zealand, Superstudio is an international short-form ideas competition which sees students from the country’s three architecture schools come together to compete against students across Australasia in a 24 hour no holds-barred contest. Designed as a chance to challenge the limits of what is normally a slow and drawn out process, the event encourages students to push the boundaries and cast aside any technical favouritism in place of the creative, the imaginative and the plain bizarre.
WHAT WENT DOWN:
On the Friday morning, a crew of bleary-eyed VUW students diligently set their alarms to catch the 7am train to Auckland. Thirteen hours, 352 bridges and 14 tunnels later the Southern rabble arrived at the UNITEC architecture campus in Mount Albert to meet other students from New Zealand other Schools of Architecture – Unitec and the University of Auckland. 22 hours remained to produce convincing architecture schemes for an esteemed judging panel (Patrick Clifford, Patrick Loo and Lester Mismash). The assembly was then divided into teams of three across the schools requiring each individual to cooperate with complete strangers as they hastily put together fantastical schemes for the scrutiny of their peers.
After a brief sleep (for some) Saturday saw most teams up and about early in the drizzly conditions visiting various sites throughout the city to locate their designs. Once back in the studio, the teams got down to some serious scribbling and squabbling as they started to push and develop their ideas often to the consternation of the other team members. Thankfully, a number of practicing architects were on hand to offer support and their advice was welcomed by the students as the realities of the time constraints began to take their toll.
After an intense scramble to the finish line, the pained cries of flustered students subsided and the group made their way back to the lecture theatre to present their proposals to the waiting panel. Disappointingly the judges barely seemed to raise an eyebrow at the ensuing hilarity. Nothing seemed to be off limits as break-dancing brick walls and Justin Beiber jostled for the top spot against some of the more macabre offerings that saw a dual-purpose drug rehab clinic and kindergarten occupying the same space.
The closing of the competition coincided with the SANNZ AGM (see separate news post for this good news). After sorting out the housework, a generous bar tab ensured that the event’s competitors were well looked after and a solid posse battled through the night – some ending their festivities at Britomart station for the long journey home.
Overall the quality of the proposals was truly inspiring, particularly given the short amount of time taken to produce them and the light-heartedness with which many approached the challenge proved a seriously refreshing antidote to what has traditionally been a stronghold of the super-serious.
Superstudio is a pretty fantastic platform for young students and currently stands as the only significant point of communication between architecture students across the country. Most left the weekend feeling suitable invigorated by the camaraderie displayed by all the participants and by all accounts this year’s event was a success which will hopefully be repeated when Superstudio is hosted by Auckland University next year.
Huge props to Gordon Harris for supplying drawing material and prizes and Modelshop for supplying prizes and some cash support.
HUGE thanks too to KiwiRail for generously providing the Wellington contingent with the means to get there and back for next to nothing. The Tranzscenic was a glorious experience, beating any ‘Airline of the Year’ anyday.
Thanks also to Stuart Taylor for the bones of this text
What Happened at AGM?