Student Profile: Stacy Vallis

Te Hīkoi a Rūaumoko E-Pukapuka | Rūaumoko’s Walk E-Book Release
November 4, 2020

Stacy Vallis, PhD

Kia Ora! I recently completed my PhD at the University of Auckland, School of Architecture and Planning with co-supervision by Professor Jason Ingham, and collaboration with Dr. Caroline Orchiston through QuakeCoRE’s Flagship Programme 3. A shared dedication to addressing New Zealand’s vulnerable historic unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings drew me to the work of QuakeCoRE when I began my doctoral studies in 2016.

My research responded to the loss of numerous heritage buildings as a result of the Canterbury earthquake sequence (2010-2011) coupled with the prevalent risk to public urban safety, that together highlighted unreinforced masonry as a previously overlooked construction typology in local architectural discourse. Architectural heritage conservation served as a framework for examining the application of international contemporary conservation theory to selected national case studies that analysed the history, significance, and scope of seismic retrofit initiatives for URM precincts, supported by the use of emerging digital, geospatial technologies for rapid documentation. Key findings from my study demonstrated that New Zealand cities and towns feature evolving traditions of local URM construction technologies, against shifts in local and international conservation theory discourse. Informed by these findings, I developed a four-principle theoretical framework to guide pre- and post-disaster building upgrade across three defined URM precinct typologies.

Since completing my PhD, I have accepted a postdoctoral fellowship through the Digital Futures Research Centre based at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. My postdoc research will be driven by themes of public wellbeing, disaster response, and the integration of emerging technologies within our existing urban centres, previously explored during my doctoral studies through QuakeCoRE projects. In this role, I will examine human-centred approaches for optimising the development of digital technologies for post-pandemic Sustainable Smart Cities.

Global events have again highlighted the challenges of living in urban centres, as well as the importance of integrated disaster response and recovery systems within the built environment. A special highlight that defined my doctoral journey was the invaluable opportunity to learn about these issues alongside multidisciplinary teams and through initiatives like the annual Disastrous Doctorates conference/workshops within QuakeCoRE – I am now excited to apply those lessons to new challenges!

Over the course of my studies, I’ve also been closely involved with the efforts carried out by the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a non-governmental professional organisation dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage sites across the world. During this time, I developed a passion for heritage advocacy by facilitating intergenerational dialogue between emerging and established practitioners, internationally, and within our backyard here in Australasia. I believe that New Zealand’s heritage story is characterised by innovative responses to environmental conditions, generated by its culturally rich and diverse communities!

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