Annabel C. Pretty
Peter McPherson


The ambiguous nature of the word “design” offers up a complex dialectic dialogue for the architectural studio lecturers to impart to their students. Discussing the “design”, more commonly referred to as the programme or scheme, is quite a different beast to the process or design methodologies the students use to create an architectural proposition or “design”. Clarity around this notion of design as both the process, in being design-led, and also as the end result, becomes a necessary task for studio lecturers to inculcate into the student body.
This paper aims to navigate through the mire/path of the design methodologies as adopted within architecture studio teaching at second year level within the Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Unitec Department of Architecture – by way of using the tried and tested notions of First Insight / Empathy, Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, Verification, with the anticipation that these are the essential tools with which to interface teaching and practice, within the context of a “live build project”.
Three years’ worth of case studies of large scale Interdisciplinary and collaborative “live build projects” in Christchurch in conjunction with the Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA) are used to demonstrate and investigate the heuristic design processes that are an integral part of a prospective architect’s arsenal of skills. These case studies offered a complex window of tasks, not least that the students were designing in Auckland 1000 km away from the Christchurch sites, and each year posed a different set of problems and clients-related issues. Luxcity 2012 / Canterbury Tales 2013 / CityUps 2014 were the students’ responses to FESTA’s call to rejuvenate the city centre after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and all of which were assembled only for a 24-hour period over Labour Day Weekend.


How to Cite
Pretty, A. C. and McPherson, P. (2017) “Design dialogues. Ambiguity of ‘Design’ within Architectural Studio”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(3), pp. 53–62. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i3.113.
Chapter I
Author Biographies

Annabel C. Pretty, Unitec Institute of Technology, School of Architecture

Annabel Pretty is Academic Leader for Master of Architecture (Professional)  & Senior Lecturer within Architecture (Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture) at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland. A mobile architectural photographer, designer and writer who teaches second year studio within the Bachelor of Architecture programme as well as supervising Masters of Architecture (Prof) students. Formerly an Associate Head of Design School. Her current research interests lay in, representation of Architecture, live studio projects, design methodologies, e-learning technologies, and innovation within the wider Design and Architecture field. Elected twice as New Zealand’s Executive board member for Cumulus Association; the only global association to serve art, architecture and design education and research, and is a forum for partnership and transfer of knowledge and best practices. Cumulus consists currently of 257 members from 54 countries.

Peter McPherson, Unitec Institute of Technology, School of Architecture

Peter McPherson has been with Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland since 2010 as a member of academic staff in the Department of Architecture.  Projects involving the realisation of a built outcome have formed a central part of Peter’s teaching approach and he co-ordinated large scale fabrication projects LuxCity and CityUps.  His areas of research include digital technology in design and approaches to the teaching of design.  
Peter arrived at Unitec after several years working at Foster+Partners in London, England.  Experiences in London included working on a range of projects including masterplans, supertall towers, luxury resorts and various civic, office and apartment buildings across a number parts of the globe.  This experience highlighted the importance of a research based, interdisciplinary approach to architecture.