This paper examines a form of “live project” that casts the design studio topic in three distinct roles. In one guise it is a collaborative, “real world,” engagement with a range of stakeholders. In another it presses toward the production of buildings, while in a third, it acts as the vehicle for higher level academic design research. Within the design studio at the University of Auckland, School of Architecture and Planning these three imperatives are juxtaposed to define the contested territory from which the architectural project emerges as negotiated, speculative-yet-realisable outcome.
The aim of this discussion is to demonstrate the triple focus model of live project and the problem currently confronting it: a local instance of a complex, widespread problem between the architectural academy, the profession and the market.
Since 2007 a succession of community groups, businesses and developers have brought their projects to the design studio at the school. Typically they have come looking for speculation as to the potential of their projects, the kind of breadth of exploration that generally is not viable within commercial architectural organisations. Meanwhile, through these projects, students are asked to conduct research into the development of their own critical, architectural making practices.
The text begins with an account of one particular project – a speculation as to the development opportunities of heritage buildings on “earthquake prone” sites in Auckland for one of the country’s most progressive developers. It looks at the larger academic, professional and market conditions being responded to and thus situates this type of live project before concluding with an outline of potentials for its advancement. In so doing it signals work to come.
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