Dorien Viliamu

Master of Architecture (Professional) student Dorien Viliamu plans to use his degree to open his own architectural firm in the future.

Master of Architecture (Professional) student, Dorien Viliamu
Dorien Viliamu

Dorien grew up in Massey, West Auckland, the eldest of five siblings. He attended Massey High School and studied a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at the University of Auckland before deciding to continue on to study a Master of Architecture (Professional).

Why did you choose to study a masters degree at the University of Auckland?

"My decision to study at the University of Auckland was predicated on aspirations to become a great architect. Growing up, I was always encouraged to do my best, and a key factor in choosing to study at the University of Auckland was its well-established reputation in architecture. 

"The main reason for choosing to continue studying with a master’s degree was due to the requirements for becoming a registered architect. The registration prerequisites require completion of the Master of Architecture (Professional) and in the future, I have goals to eventually run my own architecture firm."

A key factor in choosing to study at the University of Auckland was its well-established reputation in architecture. 

Dorien Viliamu

What has stood out for you so far as a highlight of the programme?

"The master’s degree offers a certain freedom and depends heavily on the standards you set yourself. There are fewer papers in the first year, and thesis year is completely run by you and your supervisor.

"The thesis year can be a double-edged sword: you can self-direct meeting times and work hours, but it is also easy to procrastinate. I feel that standards set to excel determine a journey of hard work and continuous late nights. 

"A stand-out highlight of the course so far is being selected as one of the 2020 Brick Bay Folly winners, where I had the opportunity to design and build a fully-scaled sculpture with three other classmates.

"From this valuable experience I had the chance to collaborate with established architects and engineers from Naylor Love, Leigh's Construction and Richard Harris Architects. It was the most demanding six months of architecture to date, made up of late nights preparing technical drawings and conceptual models and managing budgets of thousands of dollars.

"The most valuable memory was the coming together of our families and friends to help stain and construct the sculpture before a pressing deadline. Although the academic connections and learning experience were immensely valuable, the ability to journey through it with family and friends was just as important."

Tell us about your lecturers and supervisors

The lectures and supervisors are super helpful and understanding. My supervisor Karamia Muller and the rest of the supervisors involved with Oceanic topics are constantly pushing my design ideas and thinking, providing important references and feedback. They also give generous support and reassurance during the stressful periods of thesis year.

Do you feel your masters degree will help you achieve your goals for the future?

"I have long-term goals of running my own architecture firm and inspiring through creating great buildings. For me, I feel that architecture is the art of designing buildings with empathy. It requires an understanding of the forces of nature, an awareness of the complexities in the building process and an ability to overcome the challenge of beauty. Additionally, architecture needs to acknowledge and address diversity in lifestyles, culture and people.

I have long-term goals of running my own architecture firm and inspiring through creating great buildings.

Dorien Viliamu

"This masters degree, with its opportunities and significant support from staff and peers, has helped me develop the skills to start a journey towards empathetic architecture."

What advice would you give to somebody considering postgraduate study?

"I believe that self-awareness is essential in making major decisions such as taking up postgraduate study.

"Figure out a rough idea of where you want to head to long-term and take the approach that makes you happy. As I want to run my own architecture firm in the future, and because of registration requirements, I felt that continuing to study as opposed to taking a break was right for me. Also, a big factor for continuing to postgraduate study was so I could stay within my same year level, given that they're such a great support network. You really do create family-like relationships in architecture!"

Dorien works part-time for the University as a teaching assistant for the Digital Research Hub and a mentor with Tuākana programme.

He is a two-stripe white belt in Jiu-Jitsu and plays guitar for his church band, a skill he picked up entirely from YouTube.