James Corles | University Society Kupe Leadership Scholar

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Innovation in New Zealand architecture tackles the concept of place, which is defined by overlapping tapestries of culture and environment. Our culture, environment, and architecture are at risk of hazards in our dynamic landscape. Seismic activity, flooding and housing pressure challenge architectural norms and call for sustainable innovation.

Developing our architectural progression through a cultural lens offers opportunities to solve issues around housing. Housing issues disproportionately affect Māori communities; however, involving these affected communities in the process can foster positive solutions. Development in Māori architecture will improve economic vitality, boost cultural pride and cultivate collaboration. Challenges in this field include developing papakāinga (Māori co-housing) and research into how ancient Māori knowledge can be adapted to have relevant benefits in the future of the construction industry.

By applying cultural values, harnessing new technology and materials we can design solutions that celebrate socio-economic success through the vehicle of architecture.

Sponsor: University Society

Mentor: Pip Cheshire, CNZM

Architect and writer, recipient of the NZIA Gold Medal and Past President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

A distinguished architect, he is committed to voluntary work, educating and mentoring. 

He has led the transformation of the Britomart urban renewal project, and was one of three design team members for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and volunteered his time to document early explorers’ huts in the Ross Sea region in Antarctica. He undertook the master planning and design of the University of Auckland’s award-winning Leigh Marine Reserve campus at Goat Island.

He has been a fellow of Te Kāhui Whaihanga, the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) since 2007 and was its National President from 2014 to 2016. During his presidency, he led the development of Te Kawenata o Rata, a covenant between the NZIA and Ngā Aho (a society of Māori design professionals), helping to make the institute relevant to Māori practitioners. He has demonstrated a commitment to young people, education and sustainability through his mentoring, leadership and Adjunct Professor role at the University of Auckland. In 2013, Mr Cheshire was awarded the NZIA Gold Medal, the highest individual award an architect can receive in New Zealand.’