Metalcraft Roofing Support NZ Architecture Students To Attend The ‘Total Immersion’ ...

Metalcraft Roofing support NZ architecture students to attend the ‘Total Immersion’ Architecture Student Summer School 2013

Richard Leplastrier, seminal architect, great teacher, old friend of Glenn Murcutt, talks about building architecture in the landscape, as “furnishing the greater room.” The ‘greater room’ at the annual architecture student summer school at Morning Bay north of Sydney is bounded to the west and north by the sandstone escarpments of Kur-ing-gai National Park, and to the east by the wonderful marine inlet of Pittwater, with all its boats.

Each year, since 2005, 32 students from all over Australia and New Zealand, with visitors from as far afield as Argentina, China, England, Ireland, India, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Spain have spent a week at the boat-only-access YHA Hostel with Richard, with award winning architect Peter Stutchbury and, former Dean of Architecture at Newcastle (and interim Head of School at University of Auckland in 2006), Lindsay Johnston.

It has been called ‘Total Immersion’ in architecture. Participants eat, sleep, walk and talk architecture. It all started with the annual two-week Glenn Murcutt Master Class in 2001, which is now in its 13th year, and the same model was adopted for the one-week student event. Bringing senior students together to undertake a design project on a selected site within walking distance of the hostel. Participants, which now include some recent graduates, work in groups of four and are encouraged to study the landscape and topography with guided walks with the ‘masters’, and a landscape architect and geotechnical expert.

As an antidote to the ubiquitous use of computers in architecture schools, hand sketching as a mode of observation is demanded. “To draw – to draw out, to draw a thorn from your finger, to draw out insights through observation” – Richard tells us. Any rush to design a building is resisted until the greater room has been thoroughly investigated.

Progress to a design is a journey with intensive tutorials, evening lectures, and recurring visits to the project site, conducted in a collaborative and confidence building spirit – and a degree of joviality with good ‘tucker’ and a few beers and wine along the way. The last work night is usually a late one, model making on the floor, drawing on tables out under the verandah, possums and goannas walking through. Final group presentations take all of the last day, with some guest critics, commentary and feedback is always generous and constructive.

The program is supported by privileged visits to hard to see, award winning or published buildings by Richard and Peter.

Tony van Raat, ‘Head’ at Unitec in Auckland has been a great supporter of the event over the years, often contributing to participants fees, and has written; “The value the students derive from attending the program is unquestioned and they’re almost incoherent with enthusiasm when they come back. We give our support because the job of education is just that – to provide opportunities for people to get enthusiastic about architecture”.