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Over the weekend of 25–26 September, 28 Vic students of the fine art that is architecture traversed up to Auckland to compete in a frantic 24-hour design competition run by SANNZ, the Student Architecture Network of New Zealand. As part of Auckland Architecture Week, the event was set to be “24 hours of relentless camaraderie and rivalry”, with the University of Auckland hosting students from all four schools of architecture across the country. Student teams of 4–6 had just 24 hours to come up with a design for a surprise brief in competition for glory, cash and a pineapple-shaped trophy—3D printed of course.
The competition began in the afternoon with a series of workshops led by tutors and architects. Held in the student bar, creativity was generously plied with flowing alcohol and food. After varying degrees of productivity, a walking bus took students to the Auckland Museum, where further bar-side inspiration took place at a Pecha Kucha night where architects, artists, curators and students shared an impressively diverse range of ideas. For those who had inadvertently consumed a bottle of wine far, far too quickly, it was also a great chance for a tactical vomit in some very nice toilets.
At 10.30pm the brief was finally revealed—a meteor strike to the moon has increased the Auckland tides by 4 metres in height; the challenge was now to design for the new subaquatic waterfront. It was also revealed that groups had to have a mix of students from at least two architecture schools, and while some groups separated for the night to sleep, others brainstormed into the night. Vic students largely stuck together, though one brave student ventured into a four-strong Auckland team alone but to largely incompatible results, beginning with their rejected suggestion of “Labia Party” as team name.
A painful 8am start saw another surprise thrown at the students—a Wheel of Fortune to determine the type of medium that groups would present in. There were four possible categories: found image, moving image, performance art, and one to one. With a 3.30pm deadline, groups quickly spun the wheel to cries of both delight and horror, and quickly got to work. Creative output was varied, with some groups already having established the brunt of their concept the night before, while other students spent much of their time completely lost and locked inside the labyrinth of stairwells and corridors of the ridiculous Auckland campus. The hours quickly slipped away for the teams as the afternoon deadline loomed, with drawing, debating, collaging, filming and collaborating happening at frenzied paces unseen in the usual studio environment.
After the deadline passed, sighing, crying and high-fiving teams presented their work with a panel of esteemed judges also in the audience. The collective volume of work had an intensity that only such a quick-fire competition could produce, with the audience complicit in the garishness that took the stage. Oyster invasions, dudebros trying to rap, surgical procedures on mermen, barbershop singing, and John Key drowning were all respectable results in this time-limited setting, and it was cathartic for students to both watch and produce “designs” free of usual academic stringency.
The judges went and deliberated, with the results seeing a strong Vic presence in the winner’s circle, with at least half of each top three team consisting of sleepy Te Aro students. The rewarding of the pineapple trophies heralded the end of the competition, and students eagerly celebrated with seemingly endless amounts of drink and food.
The after party was also a great time to reflect upon the past 24 hours. Comments reflected a differing range of experiences, from third-year student Luke Dodd’s “fucking fantastic” to fourth-year Scott Meekings’ “forked up”, going on to explicitly describe the feeling of having a fork up his urethra, though it was unclear whether this was in relation to the competition or his actual bodily situation. As the number of guests dwindled, the Vic contingent remained strong, milking every last drop of wine and every last wheel of brie, a deserving end to an impressive weekend for all those that took part