Architecture NZ abroad New Zealand has been described as the developed country with the
Concentrating on the current disapora is also only one approach to the
highest percentage of citizens living overseas. Exact figures are unknown;
complex relationships between New Zealand architecture and the rest of the
nonetheless it is certain that a significant proportion of New Zealanders
world. There are of course many architects who are based in New Zealand
live abroad, and that this includes a lot of architects. So, what does this
but working on projects abroad, and many more who have returned to New
extensive diaspora mean for New Zealand architecture and how we
Zealand having spent significant periods of time overseas. All of this leads
understand it? If we think of “New Zealand” as a network as well as a
to complex interweavings of local and international, which reach far beyond
geographic location, how does our conception of New Zealand architecture
where an individual is currently located.
change? Might we think of this condition in more productive terms than the
Indeed, our survey, and all the further questions it opens up, indicates
“brain drain” cliche? And who are these expatriate architects anyway? What
that this is a topic worthy of further sustained investigation, and we plan to
do they do and where do they live? How do they see their relationships to
keep working on it. But for now, we hope you enjoy these glimpses of the
New Zealand? These are the questions we begin to explore in this special
richness and complexity of New Zealand architecture abroad.
issue of Architecture NZ.
Justine Clark, Paul Walker and Peter Johns
To collect content for the issue, we surveyed every New Zealander abroad with an architecture background we could find – ending up with over two hundred responses. We tracked people down via a notice in the
previous issue of this magazine, via the NZARB, institutes of architecture
Here are the questions we asked our respondents:
both in New Zealand and abroad, and various expat organsations. However,
• W here are you?
the most effective means to generate responses were on the internet – we
• W here have you lived/worked since leaving New Zealand?
chased the diaspora through email, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook
• W hat do you do? What is your main field of work?
and sites like Peter Johns’s own butterpaper.com – and we conducted the
• W hat is the name of the practice/institution/organisation you work for?
survey itself online. These digital and social media networks have become
• W hat is your position there?
very important means for New Zealanders abroad and at home to stay in
• W hat has been your most interesting project to date?
contact, both professionally and personally; however we realize that our
• W here did you study architecture?
reliance on them also skews the results. We know, for example, that there
• W hen did you leave New Zealand? How did you come to leave?
are many older New Zealanders spread across the world but we had a great
• A re you a New Zealand citizen?
deal of trouble tracking them down in the time frame available, as many
• D o you have dual citizenship?
of them have little or no digital footprint. We also have a suspicion that the
If so, which other country are you a citizen of?
survey is skewed in more personal ways. It seems that those who remember
• W hat sort of connections do you maintain with New Zealand?
one of us, as friend, fellow student, teacher or colleague, were more likely to
• D o you continue to work in New Zealand?
respond (although there are also many respondents who are new to us).
• D o you maintain registration in New Zealand?
So, we don't pretend that the survey is exhaustive or even particularly
• Are you registered as an architect in any other country?
even. Nonetheless, it provides a fascinating range of information. It shows
• Do you think your practice is influenced by your New Zealand
an amazing, diverse range of work and approaches, and opens up a
architectural background? If so, how?
fascinating series of issues, ideas and further questions.
• Do you intend to return to live in New Zealand in the future? 3.2011 architecturenz 2.2011