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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Finalist – Nicole Teh

Nicole Teh from the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning, was a finalist in the 2019 NZIA Resene Student Design Awards for her project, 'The Common Life of Uncommon Objects: Architecture in an Uncanny Ecology '.

Project description

The proposal is a neighbourhood-scale intervention, culminating in the form of a ‘combobulation station’. This is an uncanny anthropocenic re-interpretation of what we know today as community recycling centres: facilities that handle the processing, sorting and transferring of inorganic goods. This station represents my reaction to the feelings of discombobulation around currentclimate conversations, a place where familiarity with our everyday habits has been fragmented, provoking the uncanny and the surreal.

The project explores the question: How can a neighbourhood-scale architectural intervention translate the ecological mega-narrative of the Anthropocene? The project also recognises the intrinsic value that our objects harbour in being the extension of our everyday lives. Here, domestic objects are small-scale tools for communicating a surreal and large ecological narrative.


A clever proposal, at once ingenious and unsettling, turns commonplace and even ugly buildings designed to dispense fossil fuels and fast foods into receptacles for the collection of obsolete products and their conversion into usable objects. The scheme is expressed with sophistication and wit; the drawings and renderings are accomplished and compelling, and reconstituted detritus of our consumerist lives has been pressed, with dexterity and often whimsical effect, into new life. The project makes an all too real point in a rather surreal manner.

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