Award-winning AUT architecture student

02 Dec, 2022

Auckland University of Technology Master of Architecture (Professional) graduate Matangireia Yates Francis is the winner of the 2022 Te Kāhui Whaihanga Resene Student Design Awards.

The long-standing and prestigious awards acknowledge and showcase the mahi of the top four Master of Architecture (Professional) final-year projects from the four accredited architecture programmes in Aotearoa.

Matangireia’s (Te Arawa, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāti Maniapoto) project, 'TŪHONONGA: Co-occupying with Earth and Sky', is a vertical papakāinga design that explores the use of Māori narratives to create architecture that co-exists with more-than-human entities like Ranginui, Papatūānuku and Tāwhirimātea.

TŪHONONGA was developed within a research studio linked with a mauri-centered National Science Challenge research programme, led by AUT’s He Puna Ora, a Regenerative Action Lab.

Te Tatau o Te Arawa was the key research partner, while the projects were sited on Ngāti Whakaue Tribal Lands. Projects were guided by Ngā Tohu Mauri Ora, a housing wellbeing compass and system change tool generated collaboratively from a He Puna Ora kitset.

This is the first year AUT has been eligible to enter the annual awards, due to the recent accreditation of the Master of Architecture (Professional) programme by the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB).

The awards bring together the top four student projects from each of New Zealand’s schools of architecture: AUT, The University of Auckland, Unitec and Victoria University of Wellington.

The judging panel comprised Louise Wright (architect at Melbourne-based Baracco+Wright Architects), Judith Taylor (associate at Context Architects and Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects President) and Jacob Scott (cultural designer and member of Ngā Aho, the network of Māori design professionals).

They described TŪHONONGA: Co-occupying with Earth and Sky as step in the direction of a sustainable future:

“If te ao Māori presents solutions to a sustainable future, this vertical pā could be the design blueprint that guides us in building homes that support successful co-occupancy with taiao (the natural world).

“Through architecture grounded in tikanga Māori at the physical, spatial and spiritual levels, this proposition re-imagines people living in harmony with Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother). The vertical arrangement creates connection to both and recognises this space as essential for architecture to occupy. It also re-establishes star observation and celebrates Matariki.

“Beautiful and elegant, this presentation considers architecture for all through co-occupancy. Architectural resolution – concept, structure and detailing are all well considered. There is an infusion and embedding of knowledge, living and being.

“In successfully translating traditional narratives, they are brought to light in the Anthropocene age, dropping the veil dividing the physical and spiritual realms. In doing so, the project challenges current architectural thinking and presents boundless opportunity for potential.”

Raised in Rotorua, Matangireia completed a Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design at AUT in 2019 before enrolling in the School of Future Environment's Master of Architecture (Professional) programme in 2020.

For his winning thesis project TŪHONONGA he was supervised by Associate Professor Amanda Yates (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata).

The four AUT finalists for the 2022 Te Kāhui Whaihanga Resene Student Design Awards were: Vena Latu, Matangireia Yates Francis, Audry Yu, and a team entry from Rory Norton, Lana Webster, Holly Anaru, Rana Fatoohi, Allan Phan.

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