In Context is the first exhibition in a series exploring the work of architects from Aotearoa New Zealand. Creative projects will be developed outside of the normal constraints of commercial practice, investigating methods for how architecture can be experienced in a gallery context. The series seeks to present architecture in new and experimental ways to audiences.

Curated by Dr Andrew Barrie, Professor of Design at The University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, and built by students from the university, the inaugural project In Context examines ideas by local practice RTA Studio.

RTA’s work has long been described as contextual, their projects carefully knitted into the urban fabric. Established in 1999 and now situated just around the corner from Objectspace, the studio established a reputation for thoughtful interventions in Auckland’s urban fringe. These projects often stemmed from unpromising commissions – tightly constrained sites, limited budgets, or the need to reuse existing buildings – but the results had remarkable strength and clarity, each acknowledging the inseparable relationship between building and environment.

Now working across a range of building types across the country, RTA’s expanded field of operation has drawn the studio to develop new techniques to embed these projects within their cultural, economic, and landscape settings. The ability to understand these projects in reference to their places – inner city, city fringe suburban, agricultural, wilderness – offers new insights into a New Zealand architecture. 

This exhibition maps RTA Studio’s impact on the built environment, presenting nearly 30 projects – unbuilt, built, and in process – in their respective contexts. In Context considers the success of a building not just in the measure of the architecture itself but in its contribution to our sense of place.

-- 

Richard Naish founded RTA Studio in 1999 after a successful career with large practices in London and Auckland. Shortly after, Tim Melville joined as a director until 2013. The studio has steadily grown, with the more recent appointments of directors Ben Hayes and Ben Dallimore. Ben Hayes joined the studio from London in 2003 and Ben Dallimore in 2005. Both have made significant contributions to the success of the practice. The studio is now working on a wide range of projects including urban design, institutional and commercial projects as well as single-family houses. The studio has received more than 80 New Zealand and international awards, including Home of The Year, a World Architecture Festival category win and the New Zealand Architecture Medal. This exhibition coincides with the studio’s 20th anniversary. 

Dr Andrew Barrie is an Auckland-based practitioner and Professor of Design at the School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland. He is a regular contributor to architecture and design journals, and is one of New Zealand’s most experienced curators of architectural exhibitions. Andrew’s own design work has won numerous awards in both New Zealand and Japan, and been exhibited nationally and internationally.

 

 

Model. Image: Samuel Hartnett.

Whanganui Collegiate School Administration Building, Whanganui, 2019. Image: Simon Devitt.

Model. Image: Samuel Hartnett.

Freemans Bay Primary School, Auckland, 2019. Image: Simon Devitt.