New Zealand's Festival of Architecture widens its brief

New Zealand’s Festival of Architecture kicks off around the country on Friday (14 September) and this year is aiming to broaden the discussion beyond architecture to the importance of design in towns and cities. There’s walking tours around cities, lectures, open homes, exhibitions and competitions - all designed to coax the general public in to taking part.

“We’re finding as many different ways as possible to engage the public in conversation about design, the importance of it, and how it can improve their lives,” says curator Jeremy Hansen. “Every festival is more successful if it’s generous in terms of who it allows in. And I think landscape architects and architects both stand to benefit from public engagement in design conversation because they’re both fighting the same battles and trying to achieve quality outcomes. So it seemed to make sense to invite landscape architects to take part, and the New Zealand Institute of Architects was very keen on that as well.”

 Ted McCoy Lecture Series: Christopher Kelly, principal of Architecture Workshop, discusses three recent projects, including Lindis Lodge in the Ahuriri Valley (pictured above), in the 2018 Ted McCoy Lecture to be delivered in Dunedin and Queenstown.

Ted McCoy Lecture Series: Christopher Kelly, principal of Architecture Workshop, discusses three recent projects, including Lindis Lodge in the Ahuriri Valley (pictured above), in the 2018 Ted McCoy Lecture to be delivered in Dunedin and Queenstown.

While Hansen is loathe to highlight individual events as standouts (because so much volunteer work has gone in to all the events) he does recommend the free lecture series by Allison Arieff. She’s a prominent American writer on architecture and urban issues, and is presenting this year’s Sir Ian Athfield Memorial Lecture in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. Arieff is the editorial director of “The Urbanist”, which is the magazine of an urban planning and policy think tank, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association.

 Allison Arieff, respected American design writer and urban advocate, presents this year's Sir Ian Athfield Memorial Lecture in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

Allison Arieff, respected American design writer and urban advocate, presents this year's Sir Ian Athfield Memorial Lecture in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

Many design studios are opening their doors to demystify what it is they actually do. And walking tours will take in successful projects like Victoria Square in Christchurch, the Dunedin Warehouse Precinct and Wynyard Central. “It allows the public to question them about what they this is successful about those spaces and why they function well,” Hansen says. “Hopefully it’ll provide an insight into the design process in an easily accessible way which might mean those members of the public who have been on a tour like that, can better advocate for better quality design outcomes in our cities.”

The festival runs from September 14 to September 23. To get a full list of events click here.

 The festival will see the last chance to see Future Islands, New Zealand’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, which is on display at Ara Institute of Canterbury during the Festival of Architecture in September.

The festival will see the last chance to see Future Islands, New Zealand’s exhibition at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, which is on display at Ara Institute of Canterbury during the Festival of Architecture in September.