Emerging talent, revived buildings star in NZ Architecture Awards

Nineteen architectural projects ranging in scale from a big indoor sports centre in Wellington to a micro-bach on the Coromandel Peninsula, and sited in locations as various as Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf, the shores of Lake Hawea, and The Mall in Washington, DC, have been acknowledged in this year’s New Zealand Architecture Awards which were announced in Auckland last night ( Friday). Alongside the awards bestowed upon exemplary buildings, the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal for career achievement was conferred on Auckland architect Pip Cheshire.

The New Zealand Architecture Medal, which is awarded to the most outstanding of the New Zealand Architecture Award winners – the best of the best – was presented to The Imperial Buildings, a group of heritage buildings on Auckland’s Queen Street which have been restored and revived by Fearon Hay Architects. 

The Awards jury convenor, Auckland architect Andrew Barclay, said The Imperial Buildings was a fitting overall winner in a year in which the adaptive re-use of older buildings was a strong theme in the New Zealand Architecture Awards.

Speaking on behalf of fellow jurors, Auckland architects Jane Aimer and Pete Bossley, and Sydney architect Rachel Neeson, Mr Barclay said “the conversion of older buildings to new purposes may be a symptom of current economic circumstances, but it also signals a greater awareness of the worth of existing buildings, and of the possibilities they offer to imaginative clients and architects.”

Imagination was necessarily at a premium in many of the Award-winning buildings, Mr Barclay said, because budgets were often modest.

 “Some of the projects the awards jury enjoyed most used very little, very well. On buildings like the Whakatane Library and Exhibition Centre by Irving Smith Jack Architects and the Rotoroa Shelter & Exhibition Centre by Pearson & Associates Architects, the designers used limited resources to great effect.”

Mr Barclay said the 2013 New Zealand Architecture Awards also revealed the emergence of young architects such as Glamuzina Paterson Architects, which won Awards for the S House in Auckland and the Lake Hawea Courtyard House in Central Otago, Assembly Architects, designers of the Wellington Zoo Hub and Kamala’s Pavilion, and the Victoria University team which entered the First Light House into a highly selective international student design competition in the US.

 “The awards affirmed another encouraging development – the breakthrough of established but still youthful talent into larger-scale work,” Mr Barclay said. “It’s hard to make the step up, in a small country, but Fearon Hay Architects are now bringing the same high standards to commercial projects that they bring to their bespoke houses.”

Projects promoting sustainable values and enhancing the civic realm also featured in the New Zealand Architecture Awards. Patterson Architects’ 6-Green Star Geyser building in Parnell, Auckland, received awards in both the commercial and sustainable categories, and Athfield Architects’ Te Hononga-Christchurch Civic Building, a striking, six-Green Star re-working of a sound but formerly undistinguished building, was also twice-awarded, in the public architecture and sustainable categories.

In Wellington, the dramatic, angled glass façade of Telecom Central, designed by architecture+, serves to give a strong urban presence to a building that unifies two existing structures and an old carpark into a 35,000 square metre office tower.    

Sustainability, in both the environmental and social sense of the term, was the impulse behind the establishment of Re:START, the morale-boosting container retail precinct in central Christchurch designed by The Buchan Group, and also informed the design, by Architectus, of the Karanga Plaza and Kiosk in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.

Architectus won a second award for the practice’s design of St Cuthbert’s College Performing Arts Centre in Auckland, a building praised by the Awards jury for attending to both its functional requirements and its relationship with its residential neighbours.

Another institutional project to receive a New Zealand Architecture Award was the ASB Sports Centre which, the Awards jury said, is “an elegant and imaginative solution to the challenges of a tough building type and a bracing Wellington site.” The evident success of the building, the jury added, is a tribute to the ambition and vision of its designers, Tennent+Brown Architects & SKM Architects in association.

A few kilometres from the ASB Sports Centre, the Regent Park Apartments designed for Wellington City Council’s City Housing by Designgroup Stapleton Elliott is also making a positive contribution to community well-being. “Social housing necessarily entails modest amenity, but this project demonstrates it is possible to reconcile economy and generosity,” the Awards jury said.

Several smaller projects, the jury said, captured the rare quality of delight. One, the Cloudy Bay Shack designed for a Marlborough vineyard setting by Paul Rolfe Architects and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, was described by the jury as “an exquisitely sited and thoughtfully planned building” that complements the high standards of an iconic New Zealand winery.

An even smaller residential building that won over the Awards jury was the Hut on Sleds, a tiny Coromandel bach designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects (Auckland). “If brevity is the soul of wit, then this little beach house is bound to put a smile on the stoniest of faces,” the jury said.              

Another modestly sized house to win an Award was the Waiake Beach House in Torbay, Auckland, designed by the perennial Award-winning practice, Stevens Lawson Architects. The Awards jury said that on a tight site on a beachfront road, the architects have designed “a house of dramatic form, staunch to the street, but encouraging of intimate occupation.”  


Gold medal

New Zealand Institute of Architects President David Sheppard presented the gold medal for career achievement to Pip Cheshire, architect of such acclaimed buildings as Auckland’s Q Theatre, the Leigh Marine Laboratory, the Congreve and Stringer Houses, and master architect of Auckland’s Britomart precinct.           

The New Zealand Institute of Architects praised Mr Cheshire’s design skills and also his contribution as a writer, teacher and mentor of young architects.

 “Pip’s intellectual honesty and integrity have directed him away from paths of least resistance, and self-belief and a necessary stubbornness have enabled him to follow a course of his own making,” the Institute said.

 “One of the abiding and fascinating characteristics of Pip’s career is his determination to reconcile his ambition with his desire to pursue meaningful work consistent with his personal principles.”  

The New Zealand Architecture Awards is a programme of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, supported by Resene. 



New Zealand Architecture Awards 2013: List of Award winners by category

New Zealand Architecture Medal : The Imperial Buildings, Auckland, by Fearon Hay Architects 

Commercial  : Cloudy Bay Shack, Blenheim, by Paul Rolfe Architects & Tonkin Zulaikha Greer

Geyser, Parnell, Auckland, by Patterson Associates

Telecom Central, Wellington, by architecture+

Education: St Cuthbert’s College Performing Arts Centre, Epsom, Auckland, by Architectus

Enduring Architecture : School of Music, University of Auckland, by Hill Manning Mitchell 

Heritage : The Imperial Buildings, Auckland, by Fearon Hay Architects 

Housing : Lake Hawea Courtyard House, by Glamuzina Paterson Architects

Regent Park Apartments for City Housing, WCC, by Designgroup Stapleton Elliott 

S House, Mt Eden, Auckland, by Glamuzina Paterson Architects

Waiake Beach House, Torbay, Auckland, by Stevens Lawson Architects

International Architecture : First Light House, by Victoria University of Wellington 

Planning and urban design: Karanga Plaza and Kiosk, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland, by Architectus   

Re:START, Christchurch, by The Buchan Group

Public architecture:  ASB Sports Centre, Kilbirnie, Wellington, by Tennent + Brown Architects & SKM  

Te Hononga-Christchurch Civic Centre by Athfield Architects

Rotoroa Exhibition Centre, Rotoroa Island, Auckland, by Pearson & Associates Architects

Whakatane Library & Exhibition Centre, by Irving Smith Jack Architects

Small project achitecture:  Hut on Sleds, Whangapoua, Coromandel Peninsula, by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects (Auckland)

Wellington Zoo Hub, by Assembly Architects 

Sustainable architecture:  Te Hononga-Christchurch Civic Centre by Athfield Architects

Geyser, Parnell, Auckland, by Patterson Associates