9 June 2017

Architectural student learns by doing

Linley Boniface

Architectural student Rohini Contractor was given the opportunity to help co-ordinate construction of an elaborate entrance pavilion for a public art event before she’d even graduated.

Rohini was in the final year of her Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree when she started working on the pavilion for Sculpture on the Gulf, an outdoor sculpture exhibition on Waiheke Island, near Auckland.

The pavilion was designed by professional architects and built by Unitec’s architecture, engineering and construction students.

For some students, the work went towards course credits. For others, it was paid work experience that gave them a chance to take the skills they’d learned in the classroom into the real world.

Rohini says her weekly meetings with the project’s architects and structural engineer have been invaluable.

The students learned to use Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machinery, which uses computers to control machine tools in a very precise way.

“We needed to model the building on a computer, take that 3D model and then programme that into the CNC machine,” says Rohini.

“We’ve gone back and forth heaps, editing the different sections of the model several times to make sure it was structurally and visually correct.”

Architecture and planning lecturer Yusef Patel says projects like the entrance pavilion enable students to learn about the practice of architecture and how it plays out in real life. 

“Students get to interact with the people who are building it, which builds respect, trust and understanding between disciplines. 

“These are all experiences that architecture students don’t usually get.”

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About the contributors
Linley Boniface

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.