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Apr 13, 2017

10 questions for an architect

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Megan Rule is a New Zealand Registered Architect, who graduated with honours from the Auckland School of Architecture in 1992.

Megan has contributed to the New Zealand Architecture sector for many years, and won numerous awards, including the NAWIC Helen Tippet Award, 2016. Described as “a role model for women in architecture” Megan is the co-founder of Architecture+ Women, and is actively involved in mentoring young architects.

She has made a significant contribution to the industry and have always highlighted the career path for many women to come. She is also an active member in the National Association for Women in Construction NZ, and often takes time out of her busy schedule to support other women in the construction industry.

How did it come about that you choose a career in Architecture?

A childhood fascination with building blocks, drawing, art and earth.

I loved observing building projects and very occasionally participating informally firsthand. In a rural context my family was involved in building pragmatic solutions

What influences your signature design style?

A desire for engaging, with enduring materials like earth or timber to express elegant timeless spatial forms that can joyfully energise us and adapt effortlessly to our lives.

Are you concerned about environmental and social sustainability in your buildings?

Yes, I chaired the Environmental Group for NZIA Environmental Policy development in 2010. I am interested in enhancing our communities and ecologies through good design and stewardship.

If so, what roles does green building play into your work?

Passive design, very often under rated, offers long term sustainable health benefits where investment in good design can reduce or eliminate current and/or future costs. This includes climate orientation, geological condition, landscape ecology, traditional long lasting local materials, adaptable loose fit forms, end user participation and low tech handcrafting balanced with high tech mechanical or digital fabrication.

Who inspires you?

Kazuyo Sejima of Japan, a recent Pritzker Prize recipient, captured my imagination during university with her modest experimental and multi generational series of Platform houses. Nelson Mandela represented a patient and persistent character against the odds.

Mary Colter of USA, whose early 20th century cultural and hospitality projects in the Grand Canyon are timeless and sustainably current. Locally architects Min Hall of Nelson and Christina MacKay of Mason & Wales, and latterly of VUW, are among my very early influences. The list of role models expands with discovery of both fresh young talent and under recognised pioneers.

What is the difference between projects you carried out at University vs real working life?

Our constant challenge is to bring the first successfully together with the second against the odds of often, disparate demands of team players in the building process. It can take determination and energy to retain core concepts derived from University together with pragmatic compliance constraints in the present building environment.

Which project has been your favourite to work on?

Northland Waterfall Chapel is an example of a project where the team come together almost effortlessly, participating fully and openly in the whole process, and the end result has proved very satisfactory for the local community.

What have you found to be the most difficult challenge obstacle to overcome in your career as an architect?

It‘s much hard work with moments of delight

While I started my career ignoring gender and just got on with pushing on, I was surprised by a lack of female colleagues and apparent drop out rate later on. Recently as a founder of A+W.NZ, established to research and celebrate females in architecture, we have seen an increased improvement and awareness.

Ultimately though our real challenge is in regaining and retaining respect for our important role in designing, synthesizing, facilitating and coordinating otherwise complex conditions into simple, desirable and enduring outcomes.

The market can be very competitive for an Architectural Graduate entering the job market, what top two pieces of advice would you offer them?

  1. What you do in your spare time counts. Proactively seek opportunities that align with your values and that you enjoy. Don’t wait to be asked.
  2. Be a learner, be confident and take risks. A successful NZ colleague rose from a ‘foot in the door cleaning job’ at a local practice to becoming an associate at arguably one of the world’s greatest practices in Europe where staff and especially female staff are highly regarded.

With the Auckland market being so buoyant, what career advice could you give the Architectural Graduate still developing their career?

Get a range of 

experience across different areas of architecture and practice. Travel and get international experience, whether on the ground in third world countries or the first world.  Every experience counts no matter how seemly unrelated. Diversity informs our expertise and enriches both ours and others lives. Be persistent and welcome unsuccessful moments, as steps closer to your success. Network and develop mutual mentoring relationships.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to be remembered for?

Doing a small part towards a better place for us all,be it enriching lives or our environment with healthier and inspirational places for people and communities to enjoy.


Megan Rule, New Zealand Registered Architect, South Pacific Architecture

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