The Festival of Architecture is an annual series of engaging, enjoyable and almost entirely free events that celebrate and investigate the role of architecture in improving the quality of life in Aotearoa New Zealand’s towns and cities.


The Festival, co-ordinated by the New Zealand Institute of Architects along with other organisations interested in widening the understanding of architecture in New Zealand, matches people of all ages and levels of architectural interest with activities that will extend their knowledge of architecture and design.

The 2019 Festival of Architecture programme includes a variety of mostly free events: speakers and presentations, building and walking tours, exhibitions, open studios (meet a ‘real’ architect), design competitions, debates and workshops. What makes a building or public space good or great? What influences are shaping our buildings today, and what pressures will shape them into the future?

Centres confirmed for participation in 2019 include Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Nelson, New Plymouth, Queenstown, Tauranga and Wellington, with more to be announced soon.

Festival Director

Festival director Tony van Raat



This year’s Festival Director is Tony van Raat. ‘Van’, as he is widely known, is the immediate past chair of the NZIA’s Auckland Branch. He has been Commissioner of both New Zealand exhibitions at the Venice Architecture Biennale (in 2014 and 2016) and is also the former head of school at the Unitec Department of Architecture.

Says Van:”Most of us understand that architecture and the built environment play an existential role in our lives. We live almost all the time in or around buildings and they form the stage on which we act out both the great and the minor dramas of our lives. That’s why good architecture is important and that’s why people both need and deserve it: and if they need it they should stand up and demand it. But to do that people must first experience what it is and The Festival of Architecture is the event which enables us to display to our communities just what really good architecture looks like.”