The role of building physics in the New Zealand architecture curriculum
Authors: Rosemeier, Kara
ABSTRACT: The process of designing fit for purpose building structures is a complex task, which
includes a requirement to comprehensively conceive their physical performance. While in the
architecture programmes of many overseas universities building physics is anchored as a mandatory
subject (usually taught over two semesters), in New Zealand building physics is solely offered at
University of Otago as part of an Energy Management degree. Architecture students in New Zealand
remain however, largely ignorant of the applied science of building physics. It therefore seems that
architecture educators in New Zealand, in contrast to many of their overseas peers, consider building
physics to be dispensable.
This paper questions the justification for this. It elaborates on the importance of proficiency in building
physics for meeting contemporary architectural challenges like affordability, peak oil and climate
change. It argues that New Zealand is at the cross roads. It needs to either cement building physics
firmly in the architecture curriculum or, alternatively, limit the responsibility of architects to aesthetices
and spatial layout. It is believed the former direction will equip students with a better understanding of
the built environment and enable them to respond to assignments more appropriately.