Master of Architectural Professional (MArch Prof.) education is relatively consistent across Aotearoa, New Zealand. The first year includes taught strands of technology, design, professional and critical studies, and research methodologies that serve as the foundation or backbone for the final capstone thesis year. Over the two-year intensive period of Covid-19 lockdowns from March 2020-2022, the region of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) bore the brunt of full lockdowns (level 4)—educational facilities were closed—immediate pivoting to online learning for all students was necessary for the periods— 45days March 2020, ~17days August 2020, 14days Feb 2021 and 107days, August 2021. Initially, the catchphrase “The Team of 5 Million” buoyed the 1.6 million Aucklanders to do their part, yet there were unintended consequences for students of these lockdowns. The pragmatic way students maximised laptops prioritising graphic cards and rendering ability over video cameras meant lecturers were constantly metaphorically peering into Reynor Banham’s ‘black box architecture’, the zoom-black-box. By the second lockdown, cameras had been ordered— lecturers could finally see supervisee faces—discombobulation had been averted. Teaching and supervising the fifth year of architecture is demonstrably more straightforward than teaching other year groups. Nonetheless, the impact of the yo-yoing of in-person and zoom over two years, the difficulties in getting laptops out to students for design, software licencing issues, rendering issues, and camera issues were readily apparent for both Lecturers and students. Online vivas for the student capstone project has created a hybridity and flexibility of teaching and learning, which undoubtedly will be further refined ‘our—new—normal’.
Annabel Pretty is Discipline Leader for the Master of Architecture Professional and a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture, Unitec New Zealand, whose research investigations are located at the intersections between architecture, photographic representation of architecture, and visual representation. The research trajectory includes supervising thesis students on the Master’s, whose projects lie within social architecture, art and architecture, and live studio projects. Current research has sought to investigate the ‘sublime follies’: the hyperreal representations of buildings.