Cultural Signals Exhibition / Art Installation


NameCultural Signals
CuratorEdith Chen, Michael Hsu, Nicola Hsu, Isabelle Sun, Angela Wang
Organiser / VenueUniversity of Auckland
CityTāmaki Makaurau Auckland


Cultural Signals was an exhibition and publication produced by architecture students at the University of Auckland in 2004. It was the initiative of a group of largely Asian students at the School of Architecture, who Tim Adams playfully referred to as ‘The Joy Luck Architecture Club’ in his response in the publication, and followed a similar student exhibition in 2003. The theme of the 2004 exhibition was inspired by Tao-Hua Yuan / Peach Blossom Spring — a Chinese fable about searching for utopia.

In their introduction, the curators said that Cultural Signals aimed to address “issues concerning modern New Zealand architecture with its real, perceived, or proposed influences from different cultures”. The project was supported by academic staff, including the Head of School, Errol Haarhoff, who wrote in his foreword:

Recognising that many students at the school have cultural links to Asian countries, the intention was create [sic] an exhibition or student work that revealed their cultural heritage, and to encourage the school as a whole to embrace this diversity in architecture.

Both the curators and Haarhoff situated the exhibition in relation to the changing nature of New Zealand society and design practice, with Haarhoff writing:

I suggest that the work of the students behind the 'Cultural Signals' project is just such an outcome, searching for new ways in which cultural diversity might produce new futures in the practice and profession of architecture in New Zealand.


Last updated: 27 February 2024 Suggest an Edit