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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Jacob Dench, finalist


Jacob Dench, from Victoria University of Wellington, was a finalist at the 2016 NZIA Central Innovation Student Design Awards for his project ‘Te Mōrehu’.

Project description

The origins of this work lie in the tree-dwellings of the Muaūpoko iwi at Whakahoro, Horowhenua, where a once-vast and ancient kahikatea forest provided the platform for elevated living platforms. Te Mōrehu (the survivor or remnant) is a suspended architectural intervention – an orator’s platform – designed to inhabit a remnant forest that can be read as a contemporary reinterpretation of the tree pā at Whakahoro. The goal is to reawaken the story of these great trees, and the human culture that lived within them.


Jacob has uncovered a little known passage of Aotearoa’s unique history and reinterpreted it through contemporary tensioned-structure technology. His orator’s platform, a plywood pod designed for suspension within a remnant grove of mighty kahikatea, is a vehicle for the perpetuation of memory and the retelling of stories. It is an inventive work, that breaks free of standard architectural conventions; its foundations are cultural roots and its ambition is sky high.

Other finalists