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(L–R): Sanjeev Ganda (Victoria University of Wellington), Annie Tong (University of Auckland), Callum Lamont (University of Auckland) – winners of ArchEngBuild 2017 – with Chelydra Percy, BRANZ CEO

Inspiring collaboration in the next generation of construction careers

Thirty architecture, engineering and construction management students, one brief and just three days to develop a fictional experimental village for the New Plymouth Council – that was the creative task facing entrants in the annual ArchEngBuild competition this year.


Teams were given a fictional scenario where they had to pitch a concept design for an ‘Incremental Village’ as part of the council’s 2030 Live+Work On The Edge economic development project. The concept was to encourage young innovative business-savvy individuals and families to the region. 

The Incremental Village is an extension to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena’s Pritzker Prize winning concept of the incremental house. Alejandro Aravena’s idea is that participants purchase a standard-designed half-built home and build the remaining space to fit their individual needs. 

The brief for the New Plymouth village was to incorporate the half-built accommodation, but also include working space and shared community space, and be based around an economic development for Taranaki.

The three-day competition was held at the Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth in early July. Teams had to consider all aspects for the fictional village concept, including its location, consent issues around safety, method of construction (onsite or prefabricated), and the governance/ownership structure. 

Real empathy

The winning team of Annie Tong (University of Auckland – architecture), Callum Lamont (University of Auckland – engineering) and Sanjeev Ganda (Victoria University of Wellington – contract management) created a stunning and functional Farm to Table community.

The Farm to Table village consisted of multi-storey commercial and residential units where the focus was on the production of fresh produce onsite. Farm to Table is aimed at those wanting a unique low-impact lifestyle where fresh produce can be commercialised through the local farmer market and even internationally. 

The judges said they were impressed with the environmental, social and cultural considerations shown within the designs which showed a real empathy toward Taranaki. 

Despite being strangers at the beginning of the three days, the judges commented that the collaboration within the teams was a breath of fresh air for the construction industry. “Some of the best projects happen when there is true collaboration between engineers, architects and builders, where the work is developed through mutual respect for each profession,” they said.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration

Now in its sixth year, ArchEngBuild brings together architecture design, engineering and construction final-year students simulating a real-life client brief situation to demonstrate the importance of effective cross-disciplinary collaboration. 

Chelydra Percy, BRANZ CEO, says BRANZ is thrilled to again be a key part in bringing this event together. “Collaboration across the industry is vital to promote quality and inspire better buildings. We know from previous years that students who have taken part come away with a deeper understanding of the roles and intricacies of each other’s disciplines. Our hope is that this sets up the good practice of working together into their future careers and ultimately benefits the wider industry and clients,” she says. 

The event was originally an idea of the Cement and Concrete Association (CCANZ), and has been supported by the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ).

This year’s event was sponsored by BRANZ, CCANZ, the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA), the New Zealand Timber Design Society, and the Wood Processors & Manufacturers Association of NZ (WPMA), with support from the NZ Institute of Architects (NZIA), New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB), and Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).

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