W+A+NZ / SGA BUILDING WORKSHOP: July 2017 - January 2018


Between July 2017 – January 2018 I attended and fully participated in a Women+Architecture NZ / SGA Building Workshop. Sixteen women from the architecture related occupations attended the workshop. It involved constructing a prefabricated lodge in the SGA workshop in Kingsland and installing it on the Motu Kaikoura Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Dave Strachan, Strachan Group Architects, was our building teacher / instructor. The Motu Kaikoura Trust were SGA’s clients.

The learnings for me were: how to build a building: use of tools of the trade; the construction process; how to approach a construction issue; reading drawings for the intended building detail; the importance of drawing to assist the builder achieve the intended detail; working with  others whom you don't know; the importance of Health + Safety on the job  for starters!

The cupboard + adjoining walls during construction at the Kingsland workshop.
The cupboard on site during the installation of the building.
View from inside the building towards the inlet of Motu Kaikoura.
Te Reo classes 2017 + 2018:

I attended a 36 week Te Reo class at Jazmax run by Te Wananga o Aotearoa in 2017. It covered levels 1 + 2. I am continuing with classes this year, 2018, level 3 + 4 at Newton Central Primary School again run by Te Wananga o Aotearoa. 


I am committed to learning Te Reo, even though I struggle with it. This is because I will forever be grateful to the Maori culture for being able to use various cultural rituals and practices enabling and guiding me through various painful situations. Learning the language is one way of showing my gratitude.


I admire the traditional knowledge and beliefs that Maori have regarding the natural world and it’s resources. Also their community rather than individualistic focus. I want to learn from them.  


I fully support the NZ Institute of Architects for signing Te Kawenata o Rata with Nga Aho, the society of Maori design professionals. This is an agreement that formalizes an ongoing relationship of co-operation between the two groups. It is in the spirit of the Treaty of Waitangi.


Rau Hoskins, Architect, director of design Tribe architectural practice, has explained Te Aranga design principles in a recent NZIA webinar. These design principles are a valuable tool for pakeha architects to understand Maori cultural landscape design principles.

Overseas travel with an architectural focus:

Overseas travel with an architectural focus is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate and learn from architecture by renowned architects. I have seen some wonderful Modernist Architecture.


2010; I went to India and saw Corbusier's buildings in Ahmedabad and Chandigarh


2015: I went to the US, to LA, Phoenix Arizona, New Orleans, Florida and Cuba and saw buildings designed by Richard Neutra  Rudolph Schindler, Case Study Houses, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Frank Lloyd Wright.


2017: I travelled through Sicily and Italy and went to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon in Athens. I saw buildings designed by Carlo Scarpa, remarkable Greek temples, Michelangelo's works, Caravaggio paintings, St Peter's Square and Basilica along with many other churches, Ponte Vecchio. 


2018: I went to Brazil on an  Architectural Tour with a group of architects and saw buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, Lina Bo Bardi and landscapes by Roberto Burle Marx.

2019: 3 weeks in July in Poland was very interesting finding Brutalist and Socialistmodernist buildings (apartment buildings, bus shelters, cinema theatres and so on) constructed in the 1960s - 1990s that are typical in the Eastern European countries but have largely not been photographed for the west to see. 

April 2016 Your Home + Garden Article about the Artist's Studio

Article submitted to competition run by Women+Architecture, January 2016: 

 ’Collaboration in Architecture’


My use of ‘collaboration’ in the architectural process means to work jointly on an activity or project. 


In order for a building to be designed and built people have to work together to achieve the same thing which inevitably requires them to develop a process together, either deliberately or by default, to reach their common goal.


Often there is a team of people thrown together who don’t necessarily know each other and they are expected to work together to complete the project. How can such a team achieve a mutually pleasing experience? Amongst the collaborators, who holds what power and how is it managed? The collaborators are not operating within the same knowledge base. How does it work when one party cannot make sense of what is being discussed? Who can speak? How is knowledge shared? What sorts of conversations bridge the gaps? How are shared understandings achieved? How are architectural ideas, construction detailing, owners’ new ideas of what they want expressed and understood?


On a recently completed renovation project my experience was that it was a mutually pleasing collaborative process. How was this achieved?


Each collaborator followed a professional way of working that included inclusive meetings and discussions about issues that arose with summaries provided to affected parties. This meant each party had the opportunity to articulate their intentions, knowledge, opinions and ideas in a relatively safe environment allowing discussion and opinions to be respected. Issues were discussed until a way forward was agreed to.


The important factor is that a good collaborative process enables the parties to respect the relationships as well as protect their own interests. I have also found that it is important to have well documented meeting minutes so that at any time the process can be analysed to date.