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New Zealand Institute of Architects









L. Mason Rattray – winner

L. Mason Rattray

Photo by David St George


L. Mason Rattray from Unitec Architecture Department has won the 2016 NZIA Central Innovation Student Design Awards with his project ‘Tipping the Balance’.

Project description

The project consists of a planning and architectural system for designing and building integrative dairy farms in India. The model seeks to increase self-reliance, economic opportunities and upward mobility for people in rural areas while providing an alternative to the industrial-scale farming that is becoming prevalent in these regions. On the farm, emphasis is placed on the design and provision of well-ventilated living quarters, a canteen as a central social space, and the separation of private and working areas. In order to address the growing demand for dairy goods, the farm model is adaptable and scaleable.


While ostensibly this project is about the planning and construction of dairy farms in India, its real concern is the treatment of people and how lives can be rapidly improved through a holistic combination of agriculture and society. This is a people-centred project, ambitious in its aim for efficient and healthy farming, and a vehicle for overcoming, or at least softening, long-established social mores. Specifically of its place but adaptable to many places, this is elemental architecture of a most engaging, poetic and compassionate kind.

Other finalists