The Gold Coast’s evolving Chinatown precinct will soon feature the inventive and intriguing creations of a group of Griffith University first-year Architecture students.

Charged with designing projects to enhance the Southport concept’s art, architecture and atmosphere in time for Chinese New Year in February, posters and models from the students were displayed during Chinatown’s Saturday night market in November.

With People’s Choice and Teachers Choice sections now decided, the City of Gold Coast will fund the construction of a number of projects to “activate” Chinatown’s laneways for the February 13-20 new year celebrations.

Gold Coast student Nikki Findlay was the public’s favourite, voted just ahead of Theresa Bower, with Nikki’s design featuring a “moon forest” canopy of bubbles representing the night sky and the connection between distant places and people.

“The Gold Coast is home to a large number of immigrants who have left family and loved ones in other countries to start new lives in Australia,” said Nikki.

Detail from architecture student Erik Hellstroem's design

Detail from architecture student Erik Hellstroem’s design

“Using the fairytale of Princess Kaguya (Moon Princess) as my inspiration, the design resolution aims to symbolise the idea that the night sky will connect us to those we love no matter how far apart we are.

“The installation gives visitors the opportunity to write a message that is sent symbolically to one of the bubbles in the sky and which will light up to represent the universe receiving their wishes and thoughts.”

Detail from Kirra Keating's Chinatown project

Detail from Kirra Keating’s Chinatown project

The winners of the Teachers Choice section were Kirra Keating, Erik Hellstroem, Emily Paterson and Hamish Gray.

Associate Professor Karine Dupre, from the Architecture Discipline in the School of Environment, said the competition challenged the students on several levels. The overriding theme was one of connection.

“The Chinatown precinct exemplifies the growing multicultural nature of life on the Gold Coast and this allowed the students to think broadly about their designs and how to bring them to life,” said Associate Professor Dupre.

“The City of Gold Coast is an invaluable partner for the Architecture Discipline and projects like this one provide important practical experience for our students.

“The standard of work presented by these first-year students certainly augurs well as they continue through their degree.”