A Wooden Wonder at Brick Bay

Opening outside - Calvin Hui_web.jpg

The Brick Bay Folly competition, now in its fifth year, has gone from strength to strength. The 2019 winning team has created an organic wooden wonder. This prestigious and exciting project receives many entries each year.

This year’s winners are four first year Masters students at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, with an incredibly bright vision - Leo Zhu, Dorien Viliamu, Daniel Fennell and Wenhan Ji. 

Brick Bay Art Manager Claire Ulenberg explains, “A Folly is an architectural object that is deliberately non-functional and instead examines its surroundings and enhances the natural landscape. The Brick Bay Folly demonstrates the intersection of architecture and sculpture and the increasing overlaps in references, concepts and techniques between the two disciplines. It can be inhabited and is for visitors to be enveloped by the architecture.” 

The philosophy of the Folly project is to support young and emerging New Zealand architects or students in an accredited New Zealand architecture programme. The winning entry received an overall $35,000 grant towards realising the proposed project. Previous winners have been Architectural Graduates who were already out in the working world practising, whereas this year’s  team had to balance their full-time University studies, with building their first large scale structure ‘in the real world’. 

The Wood Pavilion is comprised of 419 pieces of 90x45mm timber, with a natural stain using Resene paints. Leo Zhu, leader of the team, describes the concept as an exploration into the materiality of timber. It was one of the biggest learning curves for the students as Zhu states, “There were quite a few challenges we didn’t foresee. Designing versus constructing is quite different and this was the team’s first experience at attempting to construct a project of this size. Pretty much every day, we were presented with a new problem to solve so our plans would change daily. We couldn’t have done it without our mentors – Richard Harris, Yusef Patel (Associate Head of Architecture School, Unitec) and design tutors Uwe Rieger and John Chapman from the University of Auckland.”

This Folly rests on a gentle slope, with its wings spread, surveying the woodlands over the lake. The design of ‘The Wood Pavilion’ aims to express the qualities of wood as an architectural material, its lightness and its composition. Freed from the horizontal and vertical arrangements in a traditional structure, the walls here are sloped at 20 degrees. 

‘The Wood Pavilion’ provides shade and shelter for visitors; a contemplative resting place. The final design is a structure with an immersive spatial experience of light and materiality; the interior is open for exploration.

Visit the 2019 Brick Bay Folly now, proudly sponsored by Resene, Naylor Love, Brick Bay, Architecture NZ & Architecture Now and Sam Hartnet.


17 Arabella Lane, Snells Beach

Susannah Marshall