Vision for New Station Earns Top in Subject Nationwide

February 11, 2019 at 3:59 PM

With the release of the NZQA Scholarship results last week, we were absolutely delighted that two of our students, Andrew Chen and Daniel Mar were named as Premier Scholars, two of only eleven nationwide. We were also delighted to hear that Andrew Chen was named as a Top Subject Scholar, for placing top in Statistics nationwide. 

Then we were delivered a ‘surprise package!’ 

Christopher Dirks was also named as Top Subject Scholar for Visual Design and Communication. The surprise being, Christopher was only Year 11 last year when he took on the Scholarship paper more usually intended for students in Year 13! Not only did he pass as a Year 11 but he was awarded the top mark in the whole country! 

Design and Visual Communication is the NCEA subject formerly known as ‘Graphics.’ At Saint Kentigern, the course is known as Spatial Design; part of the Technology curriculum. 

During Year 10, Christopher indicated to his teacher, Mr Motu Samaeli that he loved the subject, but because he was planning to study for the IB Diploma, he lamented that he would not be able to continue with this specialised NCEA design area in Years 12 and 13. 

Recognising Christopher's outstanding skills, Mr Samaeli proposed the idea that he enter NCEA Level 3 and NZQA Scholarship for Spatial Design during Year 11, two years ahead of most students sitting the exams. Mr Samaeli said, ‘My motivation for suggesting this was based on the extraordinary digital skills that Christopher possesses for his age, certainly the most prodigious and fluent digital skills of any student I have taught in my eleven years at Saint Kentigern. He also possesses an insatiable ability and desire to learn.’ 

The NCEA Level 3 Spatial Design programme is set up so students choose their own design context and work on developing and presenting a design outcome throughout the whole year. A key to Christopher's success was working within a context that combined his passion for trains with architecture - his brief was to develop a new train station design to replace the existing one at his local train station, Meadowbank. 

Trains have been a long-held fascination for Christopher and he passed his license last year to drive passengers on the miniature trains at Manukau Live Steamers. 

His project required detailed site analysis at Meadowbank and throughout his year-long work, Christopher fully exploited his digital skills to execute a visual narrative that evidenced his thinking. The final submission entered for Scholarship was truly unique in format and character. He submitted a 55 page concertina book – which when opened out, extends to 23 metres in length! The book is dominated by high quality, digital modelling and rendering. 

Christopher said he created his work using Inkscape software with the pages printed out in seven long strips on the College long-form printer, which he then  carefully cut and secured in place. It was no easy task! 

The design outcome for his proposed view of Meadowbank Station captured the sculptural organic forms of Zaha Hadid Architects, a source of inspiration, along with something that could have come from a science fiction movie! His final design is a statement piece that embraces the requirements of the site, building purpose and structure, and transcends this to become an extraordinary architectural artwork – especially when you consider he was only Year 11 when the work was undertaken! 

Well done Christopher!

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