Learner Internships

Can you offer an industry internship for a student?

Design Highlight Block Student Intern

Third year learners in our Bachelor of Architectural Studies programme have the opportunity to undertake an internship within the industry in which they will practice. Industry internships need to be with architectural practices, including interior architecture, and an architectural designer’s or technologist’s practice. You will be helping ensure that our learners graduate ready to be effective at work in the industry.

This opportunity is limited to our best learners, with a B+ or higher average mark across their second year courses, so that the experience is valuable for both you and the learner. Internships are from 90 to 120 hours of work. Learners are receiving course credit for their learning so the internships are generally unpaid, however employing a learner part time in an architectural practice may also fulfil the internship requirements.

The goal of the internship is that each learner will:

  1. Synthesise their skills, knowledge and capabilities and apply these in an authentic context.
  2. Critique their application of skills, knowledge and capabilities in the context.

Contact details

Please contact Tobias Danielmeier if you would like to discuss a possible internship.

Examples of learner projects

Cultural monument
The design of the spaces we occupy contributes to shaping our identity, individually and collectively.

A series of fortified pā could once be found along the coast of Otago. One of these sites is Māpoutahi, on a headland between Doctor's Point and Purakaunui north of Dunedin. Architecture learner Denzell Christian (Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei, Ngāti Kahu) designed a monument for Māpoutahi for the final year project.

"The Māpoutahi Monument sets out to depict the defining cultures of New Zealand's cultural landscape, Māori and European, through built form, while also providing a space of neutrality to facilitate new experiences and absorb learnings."

In an evolving social and cultural landscape, individuals are coming to terms with the past and developing their own sense of identity. A visitor would pass through European and Māori design features before reaching a space to sit, gazing out to the northeast. Denzell consulted with local iwi Ngāi Tahu and drew on the Māori stories about the seven stars of Matariki.

"Within this project Matariki represents opportunity for reflection of our national identity, opportunity to celebrate the rare social, cultural, environmental landscape we find ourselves in, and opportunity to apply knowledge of this landscape towards an inclusive, integrated future."

April 2023

Industrial heritage
Could an historic building take on new life as a community and arts centre?

The Sims building in Port Chalmers is a historic foundry, currently vacant and roofless. It forms an important part of the industrial heritage of Dunedin. A charitable trust is seeking to save the building and residents would like to see it used as a community centre. How might it be converted to a multipurpose community centre?

Architecture student Sasha Meyer has developed a concept for a new Koputai community and arts centre incorporating the old Sims building. Respecting the heritage value of the foundry building, a new purpose-built artists' centre could be added on to meet community needs.

"This design re-introduces a depiction of Māori culture in Port Chalmers and signifies the current cultural phenomenon of 'third space' - a meeting place between Pakeha and Māori culture. The timber beams and roofing of the new design represent an upturned waka, which leads toward the foundry building and 'third space' contained at the entrance, where new and old meet."

Sasha's design leaves the space inside the Sims building open, with moveable furniture, so that it can be used as a community performance, function or wedding venue.

July 2023

Refugee accommodation
Temporary accommodation for displaced persons should provide more than just a roof over their heads.

People displaced by manmade or natural disasters can be living in temporary settlements for seven to ten years. Architecture learner Jana Burger chose to design refuge pods for her project. Jana's modular design is universal, able to be constructed in different locations, contexts and typologies. 

The design relies on 3D printing construction, a new but rapidly increasing construction technology, which enables timely construction.  Adjustable levelling jacks are built into the bottom of individual pods so that they can be used on uneven sites. Pods can be connected to each other, and pods can be moved by forklift or by adding wheels to the jacks. Weatherproofing improves water-resistance of the 3D printed bioplastics, and extends the pods' lifespan up to 15 years. The bioplastics can be melted down and recycled.

Jana was concerned that current emergency shelter responses do not adequately address the personal needs of those displaced. Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms are built in to Jana's modules, and the pods can be reconfigured inside, rearranged relative to each other, and upgraded, to respond to users' changing needs, e.g. family size. Jana's aim was to give displaced persons a sense of ownership and belonging. 

March 2023

Outdoor education facility
Architecture learner Nicolas Sharp casts a vision for a replacement outdoor education facility for his high school.

Located 35km northwest of Wanaka, Mātakitaki is an outdoor education facility for Otago Boys High School. Since 1977, the lodge has been a place of many great experiences and memories for students. Due to its age and location, however, it is no longer suitable for use during winter months. 

Mātakitaki project approaches sustainable design by using a vernacular and cultural response to place, while using building science to work alongside the natural environment and climate conditions. The aim has been to create a building that responds to place, time, climate, culture and landscape.

As the students arrive at the site after a long day of venturing into the landscape, they first drop off their gear at one of the five shelters. They then continue up the terrain where the two main communal structures, Hauāuru (West) and Rāwhiti (East) Mātakitaki are aligned down the two branches of the valley. Behind Rāwhiti Mātakitaki is an elevated stone Pātaka (food storage), as well as a Toutou Whare (woodshed). 

The structure of the shelters has been kept as straightforward as possible to allow students to be a part of the construction process, learning skills that they don't necessarily learn in the everyday classroom. The floor structure will go up first to allow the students to have a platform to pitch a tent on or even sleep under the starts while they build the walls around them. Replanting of native trees that once populated the site allows this to become a living project where education never ceases.

February 2023

Wetland community centre
An Architectural Studies learner wins an architectural award for her wetland vision.

Georgia Pope's concept envisages restoring a wetland at Forbury Park Raceway and the adjacent Kettle Park sportsground. Her project won the 2021 New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Southern Branch Student Award.

The “Kaituna Wetland” proposal would collect and hold excess water using natural filtration, creating a healthy wetland to help reduce the risk of flooding in nearby residential areas. It would also utilise extensive native planting to help protect St Kilda/St Clair beaches from erosion, including restoring Kettle Park back to natural sand dunes to protect the wetland from sea swells.

“Recovering the former ecological and landscape values of the wetland would reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels,” Georgia says. “My design allows for water to come in from either end of Forbury and a backflow valve releases the water out to the ocean when a certain water level is reached."

As well as paths and boardwalks, Georgia’s design would include a community centre comprising a series of connected and standalone spaces accommodating scientific, educational, recreational and retail purposes. It took Georgia several months to research this area of South Dunedin, which used to be a large wetland called Kaituna.

“My design then took another 3-4 months, most of which focused around landscape and environment and then integrating the buildings within that context. Wetlands are complex ecological systems.”

Comprising a mix of fresh water from the Caversham hills and tidal seawater from Otago Harbour, Kaituna was a habitat for native birds, fish and plants. It was a significant hunting and gathering area for many generation of Māori. After European settlement, Kaituna was drained and reclaimed for farming and then urban development.

Update: Georgia Pope won a Silver in the Spatial - Student category of the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards 2022 for her project. 

July 2022

Dementia facility
An existing site inspired two different designs for a purpose-built building.

Leslie Groves Hospital operates a dementia community programme for approximately 20 people who come during the day. This programme is currently run at a different location and Leslie Groves want to bring the programme into a new building on their main hospital site. Two Architectural Design learners took the opportunity to design for Leslie Groves, to meet the needs of the programme and to suit the specific site.

Jordan Cousins aimed for an open and spacious layout with minimal visual complexity. He aimed to provide comfort and familiarity in an easily navigable structure, to create a place that gave identity and continuity of life for the individual and the group as a whole. His design featured a concave layout oriented to the view and sun, but with large eaves to reduce glare and achieve a more even light quality. 

Lucy Stephens sought to create stimulating spaces for clients to be active and involved. Her facility design is arranged around a central greenhouse and courtyard. Incorporating modular components would minimise the disruption from on-site construction.

These designs had input from our Occupational Therapy learners, to help ensure they would be suitable for the programme users.

March 2022

Opera house
Performances in this transportable venue would combine the magic of music with modern architecture.

Opera music is famous because of its beauty and the way it uses the power of music to tell a story. Most performances are staged in opera houses, limiting access to those who live in those centres and who are not discouraged by the formal and traditional atmosphere. Architectural Studies learner Nick Jones has designed a portable opera house that could take performances to the regions. 

His opera house can be packed down into 12m long shipping containers for transportation. A grid system for the floor and walls facilitates set up on site, without needing a crane. The dimensions, shape and materials were chosen for optimal acoustics. Maple veneer lines the interior for both its beauty and resonant qualities, contributing with the furnishings to an atmosphere of elegance. It would accommodate an audience of 100. A waterproof tent is stretched above, creating in its eaves an outdoor space for audience members to mingle before and afterwards.

This opera house is like a musical instrument, packed carefully away after each performance, and brought out for another audience to share a magical experience that is both acoustically and visually stunning.

November 2021

Meeting house
A meeting house design brings people together in community moving through time and place.

Polynesian peoples see the ocean as a place that connects, and used the stars to navigate on great voyages between island groups. Their vessels were lightweight and durable, propelled by a three point sail. Boat-building technologies were also used in architecture; the Polynesian fale/whare is responsive to the elements and flexible. Desmond Émila Makasini Marculy Ola (Mila) has designed a large modern community centre that integrates Polynesian culture with modern architectural practice.

A large roof form has a timber rain screen that extends beyond the edge of the building envelope like a flax basket. From each side it resembles a woven sail, and from the front and back the prow of a boat. A curtain of glass provides a minimal barrier, giving the sense of openness to sea and sky. A cruciform building plan references the Southern Cross constellation, and the movement of the stars is referenced in the lighting. A large lobby area allows for appropriate reception and welcoming of distinguished guests. The multi-purpose space would comfortably seat 300 guests and could be used for meetings, workshops and ceremonies. A central core houses services and amenities including a large commercial kitchen, and a mezzanine provides smaller meeting places.

Mila has received the inaugural Te Kāhui Whaihanga - NZIA Southern Branch Student Design Award. His work was very much praised by our external academic and industry reviewers and he is truly deserving of the award.

July 2021

Dunedin hospital
It's not just the treatment; the hospital environment can also aid recovery.

Research shows that exposure to nature helps speed up recovery from injury and ill health. Jordan Mitchell, one of our Architectural Studies learners, chose to re-envision a hospital ward as his final year studio project. 

Jordan chose to focus on the surgery ward in the current Dunedin Public Hospital to work within the constraints of an existing building. His redesign has fewer beds, to comply with the latest standards. Materials are also code compliant for the hospital environment. Louvres control sunlight entering from outside.

Jordan used natural colours and light to create an atmosphere that emulates nature. The corridor features a "beech tree canopy" with back lighting that changes throughout the day. LED spots imitate sunlight filtered through the crowns of trees. These ideas are highly relevant for consideration in design and fitout of Dunedin's new hospital.

March 2021

Residential development
A balance of private and shared spaces encourages extended family living.

Urban sprawl in New Zealand continues as people still chase the dream of a owning their own single-family home with section. Others settle for living in a small apartment, physically close yet disconnected from their neighbours. Architectural Design learner Bentley Archer sought an alternative housing solution to bridge the gap between the two, combining the positive aspects of both lifestyles while reducing a family's footprint.

Bentley chose to work with a site that was on the boundary between the inner city and the suburbs. He started by looking for opportunities to share spaces that might be less frequently used. Dedicated dining rooms are replaced with smaller informal eating spaces, complemented by larger flexible shared spaces which connect each pair of homes. Screened by plants from a busy road, the backs of the houses feature bathrooms and stairwells. The upstairs bedrooms and downstairs living areas face north onto a private courtyard and a shared green space. 

Bentley envisages multiple generations living together in two connected homes, with a mix of private and shared spaces connected by translucent sliding walls. His detailed plans presented several options for configuration and use of the shared areas. Garden tools and a car could also be shared. His design gently challenges our notion of privacy and achieves space efficiency.

January 2021

Encouraging recycling
Four Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Architectural Studies learners have received Dunedin City Council Emerging Architecture Awards.

As part of their coursework, Freyja Munro, Leon Frommann, Georgia Wilkinson and Chunhui (Lance) Wang responded to a DCC brief to design two recycling hubs for Dunedin’s tertiary quarter. Dunedin’s student area has a higher density of residency, which means students have more recycling than fits into their recycling bins. 

To support the existing recycling collection service, the DCC planned to trial two new recycling hubs in the area, one next to the University of Otago’s Marsh Study Centre on Castle St, the other on the corner of St David St and Forth St, near Otago Polytechnic. The initiative follows the successful trial of two recycling hubs in the central business district, one on Moray Pl at the bottom of View St, and the other under the Jetty St bridge on Vogel St.

The final designs were chosen by a panel comprising Otago Polytechnic, local architecture firm Everyday, and DCC staff (from Ara Toi and Waste and Environmental Solutions) and the contractor, Ahika Consulting.

Design criteria included the hubs: 

  • Being complementary to the area
  • Being user-friendly
  • Being imaginative and attractive
  • Being easily accessible
  • Stimulating positive waste minimisation and recycling messaging
  • Incorporating a community noticeboard for educational information.

Leigh McKenzie, DCC Waste Minimisation Officer, says it was great to see the learners’ fresh ideas.

“The concept was for students to design something for the tertiary area as part of their architecture studies. The students thought outside the box when approaching the brief and came up with some innovative ideas which were used as the basis for the final design.”

Director of Everyday and Otago Polytechnic Lecturer in Architectural Studies, Campbell McNeill, says the projects also enabled the students to explore beyond obvious notions of sustainability.

“For example, we dove into the concept of ‘regenerative development’, a process which helped guide the students to understand layers of social, ecological and economic contexts of the two sites and the wider city. A selection of the students’ ideas are proving happily persistent through the design and build process. The process shows that understanding a project’s unique socio-ecological context can produce architecture that goes beyond a static design object and positively effect a greater ecosystem.”

For their winning concept designs, each of the learners received $500 towards their course fees.

July 2020

Building refit
How might an existing building better serve the needs of the startup community?

To support early stage business startups, the Startup Dunedin Trust operates a co-working space 20 Leithbank in North Dunedin, called The Distiller. The Distiller has a number of desks and offices available for startups which are in, or transitioning into Startup Dunedin's programmes. This provides a community for budding entrepreneurs, offering support and guidance, and helping build confidence, skills and networks. 

These premises are in need of a refit, and the 2019 second year Bachelor of Architectural Studies learners were invited to prepare and submit plans for redevelopment of The Distiller. After a briefing from Startup Dunedin and a site visit, the learners had eight weeks to develop their ideas. Each learner brought their own ethos and imagination to bear. For example: 

  • "humans adapt and survive; buildings should do the same:" Maui Tompset
  • "startups are outside the box so the design should reflect that:" Libby Shaw

The learners presented their very different plans to representatives of Startup Dunedin. The plans will inform Startup Dunedin's thinking about redevelopment of The Distiller to support another generation of new businesses in Dunedin.

Rachel Butler, Audacious Student Programme Manager says:

"We were utterly blown away by the students' attention to our needs as a client, the creativity and detail they provided, and the strong sense of identity each presentation had. We have since made significant changes to our space based on and inspired by the day of student presentations. We would not hesitate to recommend every presenting student to another Dunedin business."


August 2019

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