"There is no better architect than mother nature”

News News & events

11 Nov 2019

A design blooming out of Marcela Ramos’ (third year BA of Architectural Studies student) imagination won her this year’s Sustainability Award at the annual Exit exhibition which is currently shown in Kahukura.

She took the poroporo plant’s characteristics of healing properties, aesthetic look and its durability and integrated them into her community centre model.

“I used these amazing properties as a starting point for my model design that is part of this year’s Exit exhibition at Kahukura.”


The native poroporo flower inspired this community centre model. 

Ara’s annual Exit exhibition showcases the Bachelor of Architectural Studies students’ final project of the degree and features a wide scope of models and ideas.

This year the models offer design solutions to three main typologies: religious, community and gallery/museum buildings. The majority of the designs are located within the newly developed South and East Frames of Christchurch’s CBD.

Ara’s architectural studies tutor, Bernadette Muir, said the degree is a project-based learning programme and building the models gets students thinking about space, form and exploring how structure works.

“For this project we ask the students to wrap all their design thinking, concept development, creativity and their sketching into a project-based format. They also need to consider things like technology, building performance, the structure of the building and how it improves the use of space.”

At the opening event last week, industry professionals joined the students and families to present five different awards:

  • Highest Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies for Sustainability in Year 3 by Jasmax - winner Marcela Ramos Monarrez
  • Highest Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies for Design in Year 3 by Warren and Mahoney - winner Olivia Williams
  • Highest Academic Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies in Year 3 - winner Friederike Kircher
  • High Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies for Design Technology in Year 3 by ADNZ - winner Léon Forgues
  • Highest Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies for Urban Design in Year 3 - winner Lachlan Grant
  • Additionally, Malvin Adicahya received a Highly Commended Award for High Achievement in BA of Architectural Studies for Design Technology in Year 3 by ADNZ.

Ramos said she couldn’t believe it when she found out that she won the sustainability award for her community centre model.

“My heart was pounding when they started to describe the design of who won this award. At some point I started doubting that they were talking about mine. But once it was mentioned that the whole project is based on a flower I knew and I couldn’t believe it! I put so much work into designing and building this model.”


Marcela Ramos won the sustainability award for her design. 

Ramos said it is very important to her to make buildings sustainable.

“Architecture has some of the biggest impacts of our carbon emissions and since I am going to be part of this industry in the future, I think it is also my responsibility to make sure we are reducing that footprint significantly.

“I wanted to set an example with this design that we could do it and showcase how this building can be sustainable and being built with local materials. The building is basically a flower: It is not affecting anyone, but it is giving back to the community,” said Ramos.


"There is no better architect than mother nature," said Ramos.

The Exit exhibition and models are displayed in the Kahukura building of Ara’s Madras Street Campus until 11 November. Afterwards some of the models will move to Tūranga (Central City Library).