unit Y is a registered Charitable Trust, set up to enable students of architecture, recent graduates and communities to realise their architectural ambition through building projects.
benefits of working with us
students and recent graduates
We offer a learning focused alternative to commercial architectural enterprise to help students move from study to practice
We offer opportunities to work with real clients on real projects
We aim to support ourstudents architectural ambition as they are introduced to a commercial environment.
We provide a structured, safe environment with commercially experienced practitioners providing oversight.
Our intention is for students to take the knowledge they develop with us back into the design studio for the benefit of the student body.
Our approach allows a broad exploration of the potential of a project
We ask “what is possible?” through expanded research and conceptual design phases
We provide design outcomes to support funding applications for building projects
We help clients get architecture projects off the ground
We have experts in every area we work in. We have strong collaborative relationships in academia, with students, in communities, in architectural practice, in industry.
We maintain energy and enthusiasm throughout to the benefit of the client and community
We work with clients to assess feasibility
We deliver outcomes which achieve community as well as commercial goals
background to the trust
unit Y was established on the back of a succession of ‘live projects’ taught by Mike Davis at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning.
‘Live projects’ are so called because they have real clients, sites, budgets, time frames and other constraints that push toward their realisation.
Projects to date include Muriwai Surf Life Saving Club (2007); Housing (4) New Zealand (2008); EcoTech (2009); Confucius Institute (2010); Kaipatiki Project (2011); College Rifles Rugby Club (2012); Akarana Golf Club (2013); Fletcher Developments (2014); Samson Corporation (2014); Sunset Beach Surf Life Saving Club (2015); Huia Settlers Museum (2016); Matamata Cricket Club (2018); Newton Central School (2018).
Typically, while students created visions for projects for our clients, their learning through those projects stopped at concept stage. The bulk of the research and learning opportunities embedded in the development and realisation of those visions remained largely untapped by the students who produced them.
unit Y aims to overcome the limitations that generate this situation to make the whole of the architectural process available to students as a space of learning.
about the trustees
BFA, BArch, PhD
Kathy is a senior lecturer in the architecture programme at Auckland University who in her teaching and research works at the intersection of art, architecture and urbanism. In 2016 Kathy was Co-Creative Director of ‘Future Islands’, the official New Zealand exhibition for the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, which has since toured New Zealand venues including Objectspace (Auckland) and the Adam Art Gallery (Wellington). In 2013 Kathy produced the project ‘Muddy Urbanism’ for the Lab at the 5th Auckland Triennial for Auckland Art Gallery. This project looked at the Whau river in Auckland’s inner west and proposed new interfaces between urban policy, ecological systems and community participation for regeneration of the catchment. With HOOP-LA, an Auckland based cooperative, Kathy develops performative art events that connect people to local places and their stories ().
BCom, Chartered Accountant
Rachel is a Partner in the Advisory team of BDO Auckland, an international network of accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory firms, based in the Auckland CBD Office. With her significant experience, including three years in the UK working in the financial services industry, Rachel provides business advisory services to small and medium businesses, working with them to grow and reach their goals.
In her day to day role Rachel advises a wide spectrum of clients and together with the experience and expertise of the whole BDO partnership.
Rachel’s services include compliance accounting, general tax advice and planning/structuring, general business advice to SME and mid-market businesses, forecasting and modelling, buy and sell advisory, valuation and strategic planning. Rachel has a team of 5 professional staff working directly with her to provide services to clients.
BArch (Hons), MArch, PhD
Mike Davis is Director of Architecture programmes at the University of Auckland, School of Architecture and Planning where he teaches and researches in the areas of architectural design and architectural media. Mike holds a PhD from RMIT, Melbourne and a Master of Architecture in Architecture and Urbanism from the Architectural Association, London.
He is an NZRAB registered architect who has practiced architecture in New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands, and been involved in projects from Ethiopia to New Caledonia.
Commencing her career as a lawyer, Vanessa translated her skills to building brands, strategy and innovation. Vanessa has lived and worked in New Zealand and the Netherlands, with clients across Europe, the UK and Asia.
Using a toolkit which includes human-centred design, Vanessa works with clients to deliver compelling customer experiences, design organisation structures, develop new programme offerings, align products and services, craft meaningful brand stories – all to enable an organization to operate more effectively and deliver meaningful and tangible outcomes.
As former President of the Board of Directors of the YWCA Auckland (elected 2009, re-elected 2011; 2013 and 2014-16 as President), Vanessa brings governance experience in the not-for-profit sector.
For more information or to find out how we might work together, please contact Mike Davis: