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Campus Unlimited

Bringing Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti (UPT) back to Christchurch.
upt banner.jpg
to be announced on May 18th

The tragic earthquake in Christchurch earlier this year rendered the downtown inoperable. With 40% of building in the central business district set for demolition the face of the city will be changed forever. At the heart of the city lay the campus of the Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti(UPT).

On February 22nd 2011, students and Learning Advisors from UPT were spread throughout their campus. All escaped but only one of their three buildings remains. What made their situation unique is that the campus of their 'special character school' was situated throughout the devastated Christchurch inner-city.

UPT's urban campus was unique and within the New Zealand schooling system they stand out for the way in which they have redefined and shared power and responsibility for the learning process; and there approach that sees that the whole community provides context for their curriculum.

Currently decamped in satellite spaces throughout the city the UPT community overwhelmingly wish to return to inner city. They are looking for a new campus that will not only advance their renowned special character but will act as a catalyst for sustainable re-appropriation of the city. The challenge to develop a non traditional learning environment that can transform the lives of students and bring youth back into the center of the city.

Results of Campus Unlimited

We are very pleased to announce the winners of our Open Design Ideas Competition, Campus Unlimited, which was hosted on the Open Architecture Network (Worldchanging). Architecture for Humanity Auckland received many great entries that really shared the spirit of the developments in Christchurch. All of the entries addressed the question:

What would Christchurch look like if education was the centre of its future?

The results are as follows:

First Prize
Michelle Lo, “Cycle Christchurch”, The University of Auckland

Runner up Prize
Martin West, RHWL Architects, “The Triangle of Life”, London

People’s Choice Award
Tony Rowell, “The Three Baskets of Knowledge”, The University of Auckland

All of the 18 finalists were exhibited on the newly revitalised Cashel Mall, Christchurch and a prize giving was carried out on the opening of the exhibition. The students from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti School were present at the exhibition along with the UPT community and voted for the People’s Choice Award.

Although Martin West, the runner up winner, was not present due to being based in London, he generously donated his prize back to the school, true to the values of what Architecture for Humanity is all about.

The exhibition opening was also joined by White Elephant Trust - a dynamic youth organisation whom AfH is also currently helping out in Christchurch - which contributed with a DJ and music for the event.

None of this would have been possible if it was not for the phenomenal enthusiasm that the UPT community have demonstrated over the period AfH has been working with them. We also greatly appreciate our Jurors for their time and expertise. Our Christchurch members, who spent much of their own time on the exhibition to ensure its success, did an incredible job and we feel very fortunate to have them working alongside us.

Now, as all of the different groups work toward their goals in the rebuilding Christchurch, we know that the community stands strong and great ideas have been shared. AfH felt an incredible resilience in the students and wider Christchurch community and we look forward to working with them in the future.

- The team at Architecture for Humanity Auckland

Update from AFH-AKL April 25, 2012

Thanks once again for your patience! It has been a long slog, but we have finally set the date for the first public exhibition of the competition finalists - all 18 of them!

We have selected the winners and they have been notified.

Winner's names and their projects will be announced in public on May 18th.

If you are a finalist and you haven't heard from us, you are still in the running for the people's choice award: a very cool limited edition IPad from the founders themselves. This will be selected from the public vote on the first day of the exhibition, and the winner will be announced at the end of the night.

Update from AFH-AKL Feb 22, 2012

Thank you for your patience! We are still under jury review.

With continuous aftershocks in Christchurch, it has been difficult for us to progress on our initial timeline.

The first round of jury has been completed, and the top entries have been selected. However, the winners will not be notified until the end of second round.

The second round, which is the public voting round, will be carried out in a public site in Christchurch over a period of next couple of weeks to select the "People's choice award" out of the 18 finalists, which will be awarded the founder's prize (iPad with limited edition AFH inscription).

We are opening the finalists up for public vote as we believe that those affected by the earthquake should have a say in their community and interested in their future. We do not want to influence their judgment by announcing the winners in advance, and that is why this is process is taking time.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Team from AFH-AKL

Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti is a co-educational state high school in New Zealand providing an innovative learning environment where students are central to their learning. They get their name from their firm philosophy to discovery learning. Believing in the potential of youth, pupils are guided to be self-directed in their education, knowing no bounds to their success. 'Paenga Tawhiti' is the Te Reo Maori (New Zealand Indigenous) name given by the local Iwi (Tribe), Ngai Tahu, and reflects concepts of endless horizons, borderless worlds and limitless possibilities.

At the moment, AFH is offering assistance in the form of advocacy and support for Unlimited, who are hoping to move back into the CBD where their unique brand of education works best. This may also involve helping the White Elephant Trust and Youth Health Trust, who were in collaboration with Unlimited before the disaster.

The long term goal for Unlimited is to return to the central city, wherever that might be. This is reflected quite strongly in the student survey conducted following the earthquake and their temporary relocation to a suburban site, where some 84% of the students rated moving back to the 'central city' as being extremely important. Architecture for Humanity recognises that the rehabilitation of Unlimited is akin to an 'urban acupuncture', in the sense that working with Unlimited and their various partners will be greatly beneficial to the youth body in Christchurch, many of which have overcome great trauma and loss, so working with them to create a space to belong to will be of great importance.

Here is an interview with Eric Cesal, Architecture for Humanity's head architect in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and his view on the role of design in post-disaster context:

Interview with Eric Cesal on "Role of the Architect in Disasters"

You can view the Christchurch Council's Draft Central City Plan here:

We will continue to upload more videos in the FAQ section in the coming weeks - feel free to ask questions that haven't already been answered here by writing to

Competition Details

  • Name: Campus Unlimited
  • Host: Architecture for Humanity Auckland
  • Type: Public
  • Registration Deadline: December 15th 2011
  • Submission Deadline: December 15th 2011
  • Entry Fee: $25 USD International Design Professionals , $10 USD New Zealand Design Professionals , $0 USD Students
  • Award: $2000 NZD, IPad 2 runner-up, IPad 1 founder's prize (people's choice award)
  • Contact: afh-auckland
  • Status: Completed

About Our Partners

We would like to thank our supporters for making this competition possible.

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