2013 Auckland Architecture Awards point to economic recovery

Forty-one projects were recognised in the annual awards last night, ranging from commercial buildings to schools, heritage re-fits to homes, a surf club and a giraffe house.

The ASB North Wharf development, the new head office for ASB Bank designed by BVN Donovan Hill and Jasmax last night won an architecture award for its contribution to sustainable architecture. The Auckland Architecture Awards jury called the building, which incorporates innovative solar harvesting technology, “a bold response to a sustainable imperative.”

Forty-one projects were recognised in the annual awards last night, ranging from commercial buildings to schools, heritage re-fits to homes, a surf club and a giraffe house.

Awards jury convenor and Auckland architect Megan Rule says the standard of the entries is reflected in the high number of awards presented.

“The global recession had an impact on many architectural practices, but we’re emerging from that with vigour,” Rule said. “It’s encouraging to see such excellent work across the board.”

Among the trends discerned by the jury, Ms Rule identified a tendency  to smaller-scale work across all categories, from public buildings to houses.

“While the architectural imprint was reduced, the projects themselves were more crafted and elegant,” Rule said. Sustainability, too, is on the rise, not just in terms of acknowledging an eco-philosophy but in extending this to offset the carbon footprint of buildings.

Another observation was the sense of family-friendliness that architects had brought to public environments and workplaces. “Perhaps that’s because more women have an increasing influence in the industry, as architects but also as clients and end users,” Rule said.

While there were many superb houses in the line-up, this design excellence did not extend to multi-unit developments, a category in which no awards were made. “Sadly, this is an area where the involvement of architects is lacking,” Rule said. “This is surprising when you consider how important multi-unit projects are set to become in Auckland.”

Doubly awarded
Five projects were recognised in two separate categories. Quad 5, an office building at Auckland International Airport designed by Jasmax, received awards in both the commercial and sustainable architecture categories. The jury described the project – “a benchmark building with a distinctive green living wall” – as a social success.

Another Jasmax design, the AUT Sir Paul Reeves Building, won accolades in the education and interior architecture categories. The jury praised a bold design, rich in texture and colour, which “reclaimed an inner-city street for occupation by the university community.”

The three other double award-winners are residential projects. A pair of modest, affordable homes designed by Strachan Group Architects for community housing trust VisionWest, won awards in the housing and sustainability categories. The prefabricated homes employ low-energy, passive-design principles and offer a social housing solution that “reinforces community with its simplicity, and open and linked site relationships.”

Strachan Group Architects were recognised in both the housing and sustainability categories for the Nikau House in Parnell. The project was described as “passively responsive to the environment with carefully considered placement of thermal mass and cross ventilation.”

The final house that claimed two awards, again in the housing and sustainability categories is a Ngunguru home designed by Tennent + Brown Architects. “The architectural concept of a house as bush camp has been wonderfully played out in form and materiality,” the awards jury said.

The education category was well populated and a high standard of work was noted, particularly in tertiary institutions. St Kentigern College’s MacFarlan Centre, designed by RTA Studio, was commissioned for the school’s 60th jubilee. The administration and student services’ block was praised for the manner in which it “nods to tradition while incorporating modern materials and environmentally sustainable features.”

Two university projects, both designed by Warren & Mahoney Architects, received awards. The University of Auckland University Hall was cited as an “innovative structural system using prefabricated bedroom pods.” The Massey University Albany Student Amenities Centre took its cue from the Spanish Mission aesthetic of the existing campus buildings but in “an entirely new way.”

Kay & Keys Architects designed the award-winning Unitec Marae Stage 2 Wharekai (Manaaki), a food hall incorporating details that “articulate an indigenous relationship with the natural elements.”

Revitalised commercial and retail spaces were hailed in the commercial architecture category. Bringing new life to the 32-storey ANZ Centre in the Auckland CBD were Warren and Mahoney Architects, which re-designed the public lobby and added a new reception wing to achieve “international scale and quality.”

The adaptive re-use of a rundown 1960s Victoria Park building was undertaken by McKinney + Windeatt Architects. They worked to a very restricted budget on Special Building to achieve a result that adds “interest and personality,” and demonstrates that “good architecture is good business.”

In Ponsonby, the Mackelvie Street Shopping Precinct, designed by RTA Studio, was described as “a real head-turner”. Its reference to the Victorian and Edwardian shops that surround it was respectful and simultaneously future-proof, the jury said.

Respecting the past has paid off for the two projects that received awards in the heritage category.  Judges praised Fearon Hay Architects for its even-handed design of the Fox St Office. Using industrial steel to insert structural and functional elements into a Parnell warehouse that once housed the Ford Motor Company, the architects have been sympathetic to age and imperfection. The awards jury commented on a sympathetic approach that avoided any attempt to “make good.”

The refit of a double-bay Ponsonby villa by Salmond Reed Architects also earned an award in the jeritage category. While many original features were sensitively restored, a new annex has a light and contemporary form. The high level of detail in the Allendale House and Annex meant it side-stepped the “blandness of a very modern approach by balancing the decoration of the villa.” The updated façade also received a Resene Colour Award.

Visitors to Auckland Zoo will be impressed with the Giraffe House, designed by Glamuzina Paterson Architects in association with Hamish Monk Architecture. The jury said the design team made “inventive use of the intersecting roof forms and the skillful play of scale between giraffe and human-sized elements.”

Accessing Parnell Baths from Tamaki Drive is now part of the waterfront experience thanks to the Pt. Resolution Footbridge, designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects. Art meets sculptural elegance in the bridge, which includes a mosaic mural and is designed in an “angular and sinuous language.”

The visual and auditory experience at The Edge-ASB Theatre has been enhanced following an interior fit-out by Archoffice which, the Awards jury agreed, “significantly improves sightlines and acoustics.”

Further afield, Jasmax was responsible for designing the long-awaited Surf Club at Muriwai. Described as “a refined and functional series of sheds along a processional spine,” the building celebrates its rugged and lively coastal setting.

Restaurants and bars both well represented in the Interior Architecture category. The St Heliers Bay Bistro “caters to sophisticated night-time diners with its excellent acoustics and elegant ambience,” the awards jury said, noting that McKinney + Windeatt Architects designed the café’s interior as a blend of European and Kiwi influences.

At Newmarket bar and restaurant York Street Mechanics vintage motorcycles are celebrated in a richly layered interior using industrial materials and mechanical props. The awards jury was intrigued by the space, designed by Bureaux, judging it to be a venue “both cosy in winter and outdoorsy in summer.”

In describing the design of dessert restaurant Milse by Cheshire Architects, the awards jury said it “introduces a touch of the casbah to the Britomart pavilions”. Islamic latticework and patterned wooden panels combine to create an interior that has the feeling of an exotic and moody grotto.

The West Coast lifestyle is referenced in the Lincoln Road Fitout by CPRW Fisher, another recipient of an award for interior architecture (and a Resene Colour award). With its bright yellow umbrellas and wine barrels, the workspace is “a playful and lively celebration of beaches, bush and vineyards.”

In the planning and urban design category, three awards were given. “Land of the Lost,”designed by Matter and Auckland Transport in association with AUT, Transport NZ and Resene, featured a repeated mass of brightly painted wooden bicycle cut-outs on an unused stretch of Spaghetti Junction. The temporary installation encouraged Aucklanders to think of their place as a “city of cycling.”

Hurstmere Green is a rejuvenation of a North Shore park by Sills van Bohemen Architects. Previously under-utilised, the park, with its new design, “effectively and efficiently links the busy shopping street of Hurstmere Rd with Takapuna beach.” Carved sculptural elements refer to the myth around the creation of Lake Pupuke and Rangitoto Island.

In the Sunderland Precinct Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), Construkt Architects and Isthmus Group have drawn on international best-practice standards to set out a vision for a strong and vibrant community at Hobsonville Point. “With the increasing emphasis on creating a higher-quality, more compact Auckland, this plan is a step in the right direction,” the awards jury said.

Small but perfectly formed
Three projects received awards in the small project architecture category. The first can be fully enjoyed by members of the public – Archoffice’s Auckland Council Amenities, designed as a modular WC that could easily be replicated at various city locations. These utilitarian structures appear as “perforated dot matrix billboards showing art images associated with their locale’s history,” the jury said.

Arruba Bach by Bossley Architects is a tiny but joyful addition to a small beachside community on the Awhitu Peninsula. The bach, the jury said, “nestles into the boughs of a large pohutukawa and offers a poetically generated response to the restricted site.”

In the alteration of a Remuera Arts and Crafts house, Robin O’Donnell Architects have achieved a successful re-arrangement of poorly planned internal spaces. The light-filled result respects the heritage of the house but makes for “an eminently more enjoyable home.”

The Auckland Architecture Awards demonstrates that the New Zealand love affair with houses continues, with no less than 13 private dwellings taking honours in the Housing category.

RTA Studio’s Stable Lane project is a conversion of a Newton horse-feed store into a family apartment, a remarkable achievement that included nine kilometres of cedar detailing. The Awards jury called the work a “rigorous re-tread” of the triple-brick building.

The jury likened the conversion of an Upper Queen St Loft Building, by David Howell Architect, to a piece of minimalist sculpture. The industrial-style design employs “panels of glass-reinforced concrete that pivot open on the northern side to admit sun.”

In a “meeting of minds between architect and client,” Glamuzina Paterson Architects created a small-footprint home in Blackpool, Waiheke Island. The inclusion of recycled totara flooring which the home-owner had stored for 15 years amplifies the fact this project was a “labour of love.”

Sea views are captured in almost every room in another Waiheke beach-front house – a “cleverly detailed” holiday home designed by Wendy Shacklock Architects as an adaptable retreat for multi-generational clients.

A series of houses by Takapuna beach, designed by Athfield Architects, embrace the spirit of the bach. The property is unfenced and the front lawn slopes gently to the beach. “Lush grass, waxed concrete, oiled floors and industrial steel make for a rich materiality that invites touch,” the awards jury said.

A large home in Mission Bay – Godden Cres, designed by Dorrington Architects & Associates – has as its centerpiece a well-proportioned living pavilion with views of the garden and pool. The awards jury specifically commented on the home’s “well-resolved spatial composition.”

Guy Tarrant Architects have provided sun, views and privacy in the practice’s design for the Tarrant/Millar house in Pt Chevalier. The house’s immaculate detailing and an elongated plan, the awards jury said, allows a “very neighbourly solution to the suburban setting.”

Copper cladding and bagged brick walls provide textural interest in the Cliff Top House, designed by Xsite Architects to capture northerly sea views. The jury was impressed by the “balancing of horizontal and vertical elements” in the Remuera house.

St Marys Bay House by Patterson Associates claims its spot on the award podium by being a “radically simple pavilion” that not only captures views of the harbour and city but keeps a “low profile” to maintain good neighbourly relations.

At Dune House, at Omaha, Fearon Hay Architects’ design maintains a good connection with the beach. Nestled into the sand, the beach house’s limited material palette is “counterbalanced with inserted elements of richness, such as the striking brass kitchen.”

Heritage recognised
In recognition of the importance of our built heritage, the jury presented two awards in the enduring architecture category. In 1967 architect Lillian Chrystall won an NZIA Bronze Medal for a house designed for the son of the creator of the jandal. The Yock House overlooking Orakei Basin is, the awards jury said, almost as iconic as that casual footwear. For almost 50 years, the house has provided a retreat that “subtly integrates the client’s liking for things Japanese with a desire for privacy and informal living.”

A two-storeyed home on a cliff edge is the second recipient of an enduring architecture award. Architect Peter Bartlett designed Newcomb House with the Californian Case Study homes in mind. With a concrete-block base, a redwood brise soleil aloft, and a view over Judges Bay, the result is an architecture that is “proudly Pacific.”