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NSW Talk: The Waka in the Window

NSW Talk: The Waka in the Window
Mike Thomas, Principal of Jasmax in New Zealand, will explore the visibility of indigenous culture and need for narrative to develop an environment that is reflective of New Zealand's unique cultural mix, an issue with great significance in Australia too.  He will share some of Jasmax's work in this area, especially with regards to the Christchurch post quake rebuild.

New Zealand, like many colonised nations including Australia, has integrated variously with its indigenous peoples.  A large proportion of the practitioners that have an influence over landscape and how it performs and appears are of European origin.  Few of us speak Te Reo or have a deep appreciation of Maori culture that we are able to apply meaningfully or with any accuracy to our work (yet we share many common values).  The result is an aggregate depreciation of cultural identity and a paucity of cues as to the unique cultural heritage of New Zealand.  Why, when we travel through New Zealand, apart from our cinematic natural landscapes, do we not see much, if any, evidence of indigenous New Zealand that defines us as a nation?

Historically, cities occupied landscapes and were laid out in response to climate, topography and politics – and their built form followed. Modern practice has us inserting new landscape compositions into cities, thus we are reinventing ourselves with every project.

One of the few options left to us is to apply narrative. That is, we need to re-apply symbols of Maori, and other cultures, into our urban landscapes using modern methods and stories. Is the application of cultural narrative good or bad?  Should we “just do it” to get the ball rolling or do we need to take special care to get it right every time so that we have fewer but well-conceived insertions that collectively define us as a nation. There are arguments for both.

Jasmax is on a journey to develop a look and feel that is unique to New Zealand through an integrated design environment that includes architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, interior design and sustainability. Sometimes we get it right.  Sometimes we don’t. In his talk, Mike will explore and share some of Jasmax's projects as examples of these and how they went about them, including:

Mike Thomas
Principal and Senior Lansdcape Architect, Jasmax

Mike is a landscape architect with almost 20 years’ experience in private practice. He has worked on winning international design competitions and public realm projects in Hong Kong and China for four years, as well as his native New Zealand.

Mike is a Principal of Jasmax, NZ’s largest and most awarded architectural firm with over 240 employees and four branches nationwide. He leads the procurement of new work and provides design leadership to 15 qualified landscape architects…..and a bridge architect. This is a unique position for a landscape architect to hold in a large design led architectural firm. The result is the evolution of an interdisciplinary design practice that designs “places” rather than “parts of places”, where landscapes are internalised and building programmes engage the landscape. Many of his best clients are within his own company. Together they share a desire to design environments that are inspirational, meaningful and sustainable. 

In 2008 Mike set up and managed the Christchurch branch of Jasmax, although following the quakes, he is now based back in Auckland. He leaves Christchurch with a design led legacy of “design first, discipline second”. Because of his connection with Christchurch, Mike now focusses his efforts on the post-quake rebuild, and in particular the reinstatement of a new 21st Century, landscape led public realm that is fully accessible.

Start time 6pm
Location Austral Bricks Design Studio
Ground level, 50 Carrington St, Sydney (across from the Wynyard Bus Interchange)

AILA would like to thank WE-EF LIGHTING for bringing Mike Thomas to Australia.     

23/03/2015 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Austral Bricks Design Studio Ground Level, 50 Carrington St SYDNEY NSW 2000

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