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(L–R) Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, with the winning team of architectural designer Ziyi (Jacky) Zheng, engineer Jiahui (Tony) Wang and construction manager Luke Thompson, plus Chelydra Percy, BRANZ CEO

ArchEngBuild competition inspires building industry collaboration and innovation

At the recent ArchEngBuild competition, 30 top architecture, engineering and construction management students from around the country showed that the future of New Zealand’s building and construction industry is in good hands.


The ArchEngBuild Challenge is an intensive three-day competition for New Zealand tertiary students held in a host city or town in July each year. The event is now in its eighth year and this year was held in early July in Christchurch.

Competitors in the BRANZ-supported event are formed into multi-disciplinary teams of three, and are challenged with designing a solution to a critical industry issue in just three days.

BRANZ CEO Chelydra Percy says the initiative nurtures collaboration and innovation at the very beginning of students’ careers. “They come away with skills and a deeper understanding of each other’s expertise that help build the capability we need to meet the significant challenges facing our industry. This ultimately benefits all New Zealanders.”

For many competitors, it was the first time they had worked with practitioners from other disciplines. Experienced industry professionals were also on hand to help, creating an opportunity to share expertise and build relationships across the sector.

Zero-carbon city

This year the competition brief was to facilitate a zero-carbon city through buildings that have a low environmental impact and promote zero-carbon building, design and use.

The winning design ‘Urban Garden – Otakaro Community Centre’ from the team of Auckland students

A team of Auckland students won the competition with their exciting design for a zero-carbon urban garden and community centre. The winning students were architectural designer Ziyi (Jacky) Zheng and engineer Jiahui (Tony) Wang, both from the University of Auckland, and construction manager Luke Thompson from Unitec.

The team said their focus was on using resources and technology available now while having ‘ready spaces’ for future technology so adaptation is as easy and cheap as possible. “We hope this building is something that the community would be proud of, as much as we are proud of designing it.”

Combined excellence

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Megan Woods, who presented the winners with their award, commented on the similarity between the building industry’s requirement for multi-disciplinary cooperation and collaboration and the approach required by participants.

“Bringing together New Zealand’s combined excellence in engineering, design and technology to achieve better outcomes for society, for the environment and ultimately the economy is a worthy project,” Ms Woods said.

In addition to BRANZ, this year’s event was sponsored by a number of industry associations, including Concrete New Zealand, Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of NZ (WPMA), Timber Design Society (TDS), and Wood Industry Development and Education Trust (WideTrust), and supported by NZ Institute of Architects (NZIA), New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) and Engineering New Zealand (ENZ).

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