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New Zealand Institute of Architects









Highly Commended – Kun Tao

Kun Tao, from Unitec School of Architecture, has been highly commended at the 2019 NZIA Resene Student Design Awards with her project ‘Dairyland’.

Project description

The project is an exhibition building – what’s on show is dairy farming in New Zealand. Due to theimportance of the industry to New Zealand’s economy aspects of the industry have been misrepresented or skewed by vested interests. This project brings some of these aspects to light and expresses them architecturally in order to allow consumers to choose products based on new knowledge and awareness.

The chosen design approach belongs to the tradition of architectural satire with an educational purpose. Cows can be seen walking along the edge of the building, with people rising up in an elevator on the outside; a stream emerges from under the building; a large fan gently blows gases over the city; and calf carcasses spiral down the internal atrium to a café below. The architectural process has resulted in a design which is thought-provoking and confronting.


The project is a provocative treatment of a contentious contemporary issue: the environmental, reputational and psychic costs to New Zealand of its lucrative dairy industry. Taking its prompt from one of the ‘clean, green’ billboards that, for a while, greeted tourists to New Zealand’s largest city, the scheme proceeds to confront Aucklanders with the realities of the dairy economy. The thesis is, literally, an in-your-face presentation of bovine life and death: a building in Aotea Square, rendered in revealing section, exposes the various aspects of dairy production and its by-products. The very idea is enough to make you swear off burgers.

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