Leading architects honoured in national awards

A new performing arts centre at Iona College, Havelock North, has won this year’s the top New Zealand architecture award.

The Iona Performing Arts Centre was designed by Stevens Lawson Architects, which also won an architecture award for another building on the same campus.

Twenty-eight projects, ranging from a combined train station and tertiary institution in South Auckland to a showroom in Shanghai, and from a radiotherapy unit in Tauranga to an apartment building on the Wellington waterfront, have won awards at the New Zealand Architecture Awards.

This year’s Architecture Awards saw the introduction of three best-of-category awards named for eminent New Zealand architects: the John Scott Award for public architecture, won by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, designed by Patterson Associates; the Sir Ian Athfield Award for housing, won by Lyttelton Studio Retreat, designed by Bull O’Sullivan Architecture; and the Sir Miles Warren Award for commercial architecture, won by the Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building Replacement, designed by Sheppard & Rout Architects.  

The jurors described the Blyth Performing Arts Centre, which also won an award in the education category as a “beautifully planned and executed building in which technical as well as architectural issues have been resolved masterfully.”

Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, the winner of the John Scott Award for Public Architecture, is, the jury said, “an exhilarating contemporary take on the traditional garden greenhouse and an adroit and sympathetic piece of place-making.

“The elegant form is an inspiring contribution to the public realm in Christchurch,” the jury said.

Another Christchurch project to win one of the new named awards was the Lyttelton Studio Retreat, which won the Sir Ian Athfield Award for housing. “This building is a labour of love and a testament to the design capacity, bloody-minded commitment and appetite for sheer hard work of its architect,” the jury said.

Completing the Christchurch clean sweep of named awards, the Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building replacement received the Sir Miles Warren Award for commercial architecture. “Client and architect set out to make a cosmopolitan, industrious and joyful place on a prominent urban site, and they have succeeded admirably,” the jury said.

The commercial category of the awards was, perhaps surprisingly, not as keenly contested as might have been expected.

The second winner in this category was the Mackelvie Street Shopping Precinct in Ponsonby, Auckland, designed by RTA Studio. “New laneways and a series of small courtyards open up the precinct to pedestrian passage and commercial use,” the jury noted.

The education category was comparatively strong, especially at Iona College where, in addition to the Blyth Performing Arts Centre, the school’s information resource centre received an Architecture Award.

 “This elegant building successfully facilitates a teaching transformation, and establishes a collegial relationship with the existing architecture of a century-old girls’ school,” the jury said.

Avondale College was another winner in the education category as was the MIT Manukau & transport interchange by Warren and Mahoney Architects.

Across town, another building with a big community impact is Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, located in Titirangi next to historic Lopdell House. The building, designed by Mitchell & Stout Architects.

Napier is host to an architecture awards winner, in the hospitality and retail category. Monica Loves, designed by C Nott Architects, is “a lively little bar with an industrial chic aesthetic and relaxed ambience,” the jury said. “But it’s so much more than that. It’s a clever bit of city-making that introduces laneway life to Napier.”     

Residential architecture featured strongly in the awards. Five new houses won awards in the housing category, four of them in Auckland.

Stevens Lawson Architects won their third award for In-Situ House in Remuera, described by the jury as “a stunning expression of a single-minded and very well-resourced commitment to uncompromising quality.”

Boatsheds, a house in Takapuna designed by SGA-Strachan Group Architects and Rachael Rush, is a building “infused with life and spirit that perfectly suits its owners and also makes a generous and significant contribution to its neighbouring context.”

Waiheke Island is the site of Bull O’Sullivan award-winning Ostend Road Home. “Crafted rather than merely built, the house is an entirely suitable and very enjoyable home for the young family for whom it was designed,” the jury said.

In Titirangi, the Red House, designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects (Auckland) is “wonderfully connected to its environment.”

Further north, the Castle Rock House at Whangarei Heads, designed by Herbst Architects, is “sited beautifully above a beach and below a mountain and next to a mature pohutukawa.”

Two projects received awards in a category – alterations and additions – that has been established to acknowledge a common and increasingly accomplished type of residential architecture. 

The Awards jury said that Malcolm Walker Architects’ reworking of a Grey Lynn villa “has produced a corker of a house.” As might be expected from the name given to the project – Sod the Villa – “there’s a levity and playfulness to this house, perfectly in keeping with the wit and generosity of the clients, and also expressive of the confident spatial mastery of the architect.”

In the countryside south of Auckland, Herbst Architects won their second 2015 award for Clevedon Estate. “A house sitting on top of a hill has become the heart of an artfully composed rural estate in this adroit exercise in site-making,” the jury said.

Multi-unit housing is an increasingly important type of residential architecture in New Zealand and two Wellington projects received awards in this category.

The Clyde Quay Wharf apartment redevelopment, designed by Athfield Architects, is “a strong addition to the urban shoreline,” the jury said. “Viewed from the harbour the building establishes a nice connection with yachts moored in front of it and houses stepping up Mt Vic behind it.”           

In giving an award to the Marshall Court Apartments for Wellington City Council in Miramar, the jury noted “social housing is a tough architectural genre.” Design group Stapleton Elliott and the client “worked hard to produce safe and suitable pensioner housing, and in the face of the usual budgetary constrictions, they have succeeded admirably.” 

Two awards were made in the Small Projects category. One went to Te Kaitaka –The Cloak, a building in the Auckland Airport commercial precinct designed by Fearon Hay Architects

The other winner was Brooklands Lagoon public toilet, designed by Opus Architecture. “What could have been a utilitarian ablution block has been sculpted poetically into a sensitive expression of historical and cultural references.”

The awards’ enduring architecture category acknowledges buildings that have proved their worth for at least 25 years. Four enduring awards were made, two of them in Auckland.

Lopdell House in Titirangi has been “remarkably transformed by Mitchell & Stout Architects through an intelligent restorative process,” the jury said.

Mitchell & Stout Architects won a second award in the enduring category for Gibbs House in Parnell.

Coleraine House, formerly Buck House, near Havelock North received the third award and Deanwell School in Hamilton, which was designed in the late 1960s by the South Auckland Education Board’s architectural division won the fourth award. “

The list of award-winners was completed by the only building to be recognised in the international architecture category, which is dedicated to overseas buildings designed by New Zealand architects.

The New Zealand China Concept Store in Shanghai, designed by Patterson Associates, is “intentionally a show-off building,” the jury said. “It exhibits its intentions and its contents with clarity and to a thoroughly international standard.”

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