The Saucer Rendered Exterior Perspective

The Saucer


Thomas Nguyen / University Of Auckland

12. Student design award

The project aims to replace an existing structure with a new timber pavilion that reflects Summerhill Charitable Trust's values of recreation, education, and connection to the neighbouring regional park. The design requirement specifies the use of cypress timber grown on Summerhill Farm, emphasising the sustainable and local sourcing of materials.


The saucer represents a simple yet elegant solution that transcends the ordinary. Through the interplay of dynamic curves, straight edges, and the innovative use of log tectonics, a dialogue is created between architecture and nature. The design blurs the boundaries between the built environment and the surrounding landscape, creating a seamless integration with the natural world.

The overall form and composition of the pavilion revolve around the juxtaposition of dynamic curves and straight edges, taking inspiration from organic forms found in nature and formal shapes in architecture. The primary elements that embody this juxtaposition are the overall composition and varying heights of the fixed seating logs, in addition to the curved ceiling permeated with the striking grid tectonic. These forms are carefully interwoven to create a sense of movement and fluidity, enhancing the connection between the built structure and the natural environment.

The deliberate use of logs in the design further strengthens the visual connection to the neighbouring Papamoa Hills Regional Park. By incorporating logs as a prominent vertical wooden element, the pavilion not only fulfils the wishes of Summerhill Trust but also enhances its integration with the natural surroundings. Ultimately, the verticality of the logs adds to the visual appeal and reinforces the pavilion's connection to the neighbouring regional park.

The key architectural tectonic discovered in this project involved cutting logs into squares and laminating them into a modular configuration. This innovative approach retains the natural form of timber while transforming it into a modular element that can be integrated into the design. The resulting grid pattern of log rings beautifully encompasses the dialogue between architecture and nature.

Through the interplay of organic and modular elements, both at the tectonic level and in the overall form, the pavilion establishes a harmonious dialogue between architecture and the nature. This design approach aligns with Summerhill's values and invites visitors to reconnect with the natural world. The pavilion provides a serene and contemplative space within the Papamoa Hills Regional Park, reflecting the timber milling practices of Summerhill and creating an immersive experience for visitors.