Taira Nishizawa Taira Nishizawa CREDIT: University of Auckland

Architectural and planning issues to the fore

Monday 19 March 2012, 6:34PM
By University of Auckland


Internationally acclaimed architects, designers, writers, artists and curators feature in this year’s Communiqué Autumn Lecture Series at The University of Auckland.

The presenters, whose work span a wide range of disciplines, industries and practices will focus on issues relevant to architecture and planning.

Among the notable speakers are master carver and sculptor Lyonel Grant.
Of Te Arawa and Ngati Pikiao descent, Lyonel employs various media including wood, stone, bronze, flax, ceramics and paint. His practice encompasses the traditions of whakairo rakau, arising from his training at the NZ M?ori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua and contemporary modes of art production.

He has designed and carved innovative meeting houses such as Ngakau Mahaki (‘heartfelt humility’) at the Unitec campus. The rear wall of the house with its embossed shadowy figures signifies all those who have gone before, the centre pillar or pou, constructed of bronze, represents everything up to 1840, while the front of the wharenui embodies contemporary Auckland.

His other notable meeting houses are Te Matapihi o te Rangi in Tokoroa and Ihenga at the Tangatarua Marae on the Waiariki Institute of Technology campus in Rotorua. With Damian Skinner he collaborated on the book Ihenga: Te Haerenga Hou, an important introduction to the evolution of M?ori carving in the 20th Century.

Another highlight is the lecture and tour by Japanese architect Taira Nishizawa, who has been recognised as “one of the ten design vanguards of architecture in the 21st Century” by the prestigious Architectural Review magazine. Taira’s work, which ranges from small houses to large sports facilities and makes particular use of innovative timber structures, has attracted numerous awards, including the prestigious Japan Institute of Architects Young Architect of the Year Award.

Among Nishizawa’s best-known projects is the Forestry Hall To-mochi, a sports hall commissioned as part of the internationally renowned Kumamoto Artpolis programme – a programme that matches public building projects with exciting young architects. Located in southern Japan and completed in 2004, this community centre and sports hall employs a dramatic, irregular three-dimensional wooden truss structure that was a world first.

The inclusion of such distinguished experts has been made possible by the funding of NZ Wood - the marketing arm of the Wood Council of New Zealand. Thanks to their generous support Taira Nishizawa will also lecture in Wellington and Christchurch.

“The sponsorship will assist the School of Architecture and Planning to engage more fully with the wider architectural community while also supporting the academic development of students”, says Professor Jenny Dixon, Dean of the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries at The University of Auckland.

Jane Arnott, CEO of NZ Wood who are sponsoring the lecture series says: “Communiqué is all about knowledge exchange and ensuring that the architecture of the future benefits from the experiences of the past - especially as innovative applications for timber continue to offer new worlds of possibilities”.

Communiqué, which runs from March to May, examines issues central to architecture and planning, while also seeking to present wider views to encourage critical discussion and debate.

The lectures are free and open to the public.
Follow Communiqué on Twitter: +tag: #communique2012

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Research (CAR), the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.