Dr Michael John Davis

PhD, MArch, BArch


Dr Michael Davis is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland School of Architecture. He holds a PhD from RMIT (Melbourne) and a Master of Architecture in Architecture and Urbanism from the Architectural Association's Design Research Laboratory (London).

Mike teaches and researches in the areas of design, design research, and architectural pedagogy. He has developed a community facing model of studio teaching through a succession of ‘live’ projects that extends from 2007. In 2018 Mike co-founded unit Y Trust for the purposes of extending the educational opportunities these projects present beyond the borders of the academy.

Having practiced architecture in New Zealand, Canada, and the Netherlands; and with project experience spanning from high density housing, to heritage retro-fits; from government buildings, to resorts in locations from Ethiopia to New Caledonia, Mike retains an active design practice that serves as the base for his design research. It operates in two modes: In design projects where knowledge is embedded in drawn, modelled and built form; and in text which often reflects upon the projects to explicate the embedded knowledge.

Research | Current

Main research interests:

  • ‘Live’ projects: Implications for academy, profession and communities
  • Post-digital media practices: Critical making endeavours in architectural design
  • Fabrication technologies: Repurposing the commonplace to effect the novel
  • Indigenous New Zealand timbers: Extraction, use, reuse and tectonics
  • Design research into the future of the architectural discipline in island economies.

Current research activities:

  • Rapid Autopsy AR project (stage 2). A collaboration with FMHS and the Centre for eResearch | 2020 – 2022 | Role: Co Principle Investigator with Dr Ben Lawrence (FMHS)
  • Gone West: The Middleton House, Grafton (1960-61) and Waiatarua (1968-69) A collaboration with Julia Gatley and Gina Hochstein examining the history and implications of the relocation of Peter Middleton's family home | 2021 | Role: Co Principle Investigator

Selected publications:

Creative works

Blenkiron, C., Davis, M., Guo, J., Haux, B., Lawrence, B., Parker, K., Print, C.,  Rieger, U., Robb, T., Tsai, P., Woodhouse, B., Young, N. (2019). AR cancer research hypothesis tool, in Understanding tumour evolution of a highly disseminated lung NET through multi-player augmented reality visualisation. In Neuroendocrinology Vol. 108 (pp. 33). Barcelona, Spain: Karger. doi:10.1159/000498996

Barrie, A., Boarin, P., Davis, M., & Waghorn, K. (2021, April 30). Learning from Trees: transforming timber culture in Aotearoa [Exhibition]. Venice, Italy.

Davis, M. J., Raymond-Roberts, A., & Holmes, C. (2019, September 14). SML (No. Of Pieces: 1: SML is an assembly of 1:1 scale drawings of a small house. It measured 8.4m x 3.2m. Item 2: A curated selection of six project books) [Item 1: print on fabric. Item 2: print on paper]. Objectspace, Auckland, New Zealand.

Davis, M. J. (2015). Langs Doors [Design]. New Zealand.

Davis, M. J. (2015). The vessel [A material case study in juxtaposed cannons] [Design]. Australia.

Davis, M. J., & Lee, S. (2013). The lab at The 5th Auckland Art Triennial: If you were to live here... [Design]. New Zealand. Retrieved from http://aucklandtriennial.com/lab/

Journal Articles

Paterson, A., & Davis, M. J. (2018). Propagating a legacy: Undisciplined drawings and evolving technology. Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts, (Auckland School centenary special issue), 101-111. Retrieved from https://www.interstices.ac.nz/

Davis, M. J., Melis, A., & Mecredy, E. (2018). Material openings: Ark and the materiality of the vessel. Drawing On: Journal of Architectural Research by Design, (02), 62-75. Retrieved from http://drawingon.org/issue/02

Davis, M. J. (2017). Academy-profession-market: Problematizing tensions in the live project. The Journal of Public Space. Special Issue; Critical Thresholds.Traversing Architectural Pedagogy, Research, and Practice,, 2(3), 85-92. Retrieved from http://www.journalpublicspace.org/

Davis, M. J. (2013). Pursuing a sense of the emergent through craft practices in architectural design. craft + design enquiry – A World In Making: Cities Craft Design, 5, 49-71. Retrieved from http://epress.anu.edu.au/?p=255421

Davis, M. (2010). Maintaining the abstract critical facility in post-digital drawing practice. Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts, 11(The traction of drawing), 82-90. Retrieved from http://interstices.aut.ac.nz/ijara/index.php/ijara/article/view/16

Thesis / Dissertation

Davis, M. (2015). Ark: Pursuing qualities of relation through a provisional compositional taxonomy. (PhD Thesis, RMIT University, Melbourne). Retrieved from https://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/rmit:161294


Davis, M., & Waghorn, K. (Eds.) (2020). Making Ways: Alternative Architectural Practice in Aotearoa. Auckland, New Zealand: Objectspace.

Waghorn, K., Davis, M., & Barrie, A. (2014). The lab: At the 5th Auckland Triennial, 2013. K. Waghorn (Ed.), Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland Art Gallery/Toi o Tāmaki and the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning. Retrieved from https://catalogue.library.auckland.ac.nz/

Teaching | Current

  • ARCHDES 201: Design 4, The Constructed
  • ARCHDES 301: Design 6, The Integrated
  • ARCHDES 700: Advanced Design 1
  • ARCHDRC 701: Advanced Design 2
  • ARCHGEN 703: Design as Research

Postgraduate supervision

Since 2009 Mike has supervised 50 MArch(Prof) theses and 1 PhD to completion. He currently has three PhD candidates and five MArch(Prof) theses in progress.

Mike is looking for new PhD researchers wanting to pursue practice-based study in which design, fabrication and material practices are foregrounded.


  • 2015-8 Judge: Architectural Designers New Zealand (ADNZ) National Awards
  • 2017 Category Winner, New Zealand Timber Design Awards
  • 2017 Honourable mention, New Zealand Timber Design Awards
  • 2016 Exhibitor, Venice Architecture Biennale
  • 2014 Silver Pin, Best Design Awards
  • 2011 NICAI Early Career Teaching Excellence Award


  • Deputy Head of School (2021)
  • School Director: Architecture Programmes (2013-2020 & 2021)
  • Associate Director: Design (2009-2012):
  • Live Project Co-ordinator (2020-)

Areas of expertise

  • ‘Live’ projects and architectural pedagogy
  • Post-digital media practices
  • Architectural composition
  • Fabrication technologies
  • Timber tectonics
  • Design research

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Co-founder of Unit Y charitable trust (2018)
  • New Zealand Registered Architects Board registered architect
  • Associate of the New Zealand Institute of Architects

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Robb, T., Haux, B., Woodhouse, B., Parker, K., Blenkiron, C., Tsai, P., ... Rieger, U. (2019). Understanding Tumour Evolution of a Highly Disseminated Lung NET Through Multi-Player Augmented Reality Visualisation. Paper presented at 16th Annual ENETS Conference for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumor Disease, Barcelona, SPAIN. 6 March - 8 March 2019. NEUROENDOCRINOLOGY. (pp. 1).
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ben Lawrence, Cherie Blenkiron, Uwe Rieger, Tamsin Robb
  • Paterson, A., & Davis, M. J. (2018). Propagating a legacy: Undisciplined drawings and evolving technology. Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts (Auckland School centenary special issue), 101-111. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Aaron Paterson
  • Melis, A., & Davis, M. (2018). Mai I te ngahere oranga: A restricted competition in the Pacific. In W. Menteth (Ed.) Competition culture in Europe: Voices (pp. 64-69). London, UK: Project Compass CIC. Related URL.
  • Melis, A., Davis, M., Mecredy, E., & Liang, B. (2017). The integration of advanced technology in live projects studio teaching: The case of Samson Studio at the University of Auckland (2014-2017). In T. Auer, A. Melis, F. Aimar (Eds.) Disruptive technologies: The intergration of advanced technologies in architecugtre teaching and radical projects for the future city. Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands: Wolters Kluwer Italia.
  • Davis, M. J. (2017). Material openings: Ark and the materiality of the vessel. Drawing On: Journal of Architectural Research by Design (02), 80-93.
  • Melis, A., Davis, M. J., & Balaara, A. (2017). The history and invocation of the Arche in Austrian Radical architecture thinking. Cogent Social Sciences, 3 (1), 1-19. 10.1080/23311886.2017.1368366
  • Davis, M. J. (2015). Langs Doors. New Zealand Prviate commission
  • Davis, M. (2015). Ark: Pursuing qualities of relation through a provisional compositional taxonomy RMIT University, Melbourne. RMIT University. Related URL.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 416
New Zealand

Web links