Architecture Awards recognise design diversity and enduring quality
Projects large and small, private and public, urban and rural, have been recognised in the 2013 Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards, which were announced on Friday evening (25 October) at the Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton.
The 15 award-winning buildings, which range in scale from commercial offices and a university library to compact houses and a farm shed, are located across the region, from Hamilton and Cambridge to Tauranga and the Coromandel Peninsula.
“The judging process was an intense journey,” said the convenor of the Awards jury, Hamilton architect Glen McHardie. “Over three days, we visited 30 projects and had great discussions about them all.”
McHardie said several themes emerged in this year’s Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards, which is an official, peer-reviewed programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. One was the stand-out performance of the firm Wingate + Farquhar, which won five Awards, including all four Awards in the Interior Architecture category.
“By challenging the status quo of standard office fit-outs, Wingate + Farquhar are bringing flexibility and a sense of playfulness to workspaces,” McHardie said. “It’s a pleasing approach that adds value to the work life of employees.”
McHardie said the jury, which included architects Ken Crosson and Grant Edwards and Hamilton accountant Graham Haines, also noted a general trend towards a more sustainable architecture.
“It’s good to see the fundamental principles of energy efficiency integrated into designs and becoming the norm,” McHardie said.
Another gratifying result of this year’s Awards, McHardie said, was the presence among the winners of two Hamilton houses – the Brian and Jean Smith House, designed by Rod Smith, and the Harris House, designed by Roger Walker – which were built more than 25 years ago.
“It’s important to seek out good examples of our architectural heritage, celebrate them, and learn from them,” McHardie said.
Winners of the 2013 Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards
Wingate + Farquhar’s four Awards in the Interior Architecture category went to the firm’s fit-outs for two law firms, an accountants’ office and a large café. The fit-out for Hamilton lawyers Norris Ward McKinnon is organised around a “dancing staircase” – a spiral structure in timber and steel – and uses bespoke furniture and patterned wallpapers to bring a relaxed, boutique sensibility to the spaces.
In the Cooney Lees Morgan project in Tauranga, Wingate + Farquhar designed an open-plan office for a long-established law practice that sought a more collaborative work environment. The Awards jury remarked that the architects’ playful use of colour and their deployment of materials produced “a variety of settings that respond to personal preference and enables staff to work productively.”
Also in Tauranga, Wingate + Farquhar explored the idea of workspace as art gallery in the fit-out for Staples Rodway Accountants. White walls, polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings act as a fitting setting for the firm’s collection of art and pottery, providing, the jury said, an “exciting backdrop that supports the serious endeavour of productive work.”
Another Award-winning Tauranga project by Wingate + Farquhar is the Elizabeth Café and Larder. The café, located in a new gateway building, has a “relaxed and engaging atmosphere,” the jury said. The clever use of space in the large open-plan area, a palette of timber and steel, and a restrained use of bold colour have created “warm and vibrant spaces”.
Wingate + Farquhar’s fifth award, this time in the Commercial Architecture category, is for a much larger Tauranga building, the four-storey ANZ Business Centre, sited on a prominent ridge on the edge of the city’s CBD. With its sculptural canopy and vertical and horizontal louvres on the façade, the building offers a “strong face to the city,” the jury said.
The Mystery Creek Event Centre HQ near Hamilton, designed by Chow:Hill Architects, is the second Award-winner in the Commercial Architecture category. A single-pitched roof spanning 70 metres combines with grass berms so that the building appears to emerge from the landscape. The roof generates a variety of internal volumes, bold colour and exposed services create a vibrant interior, while a more muted exterior palette of natural materials such as ground concrete and cedar “allows the building to sit comfortably in the rural environment,” the jury said.
The successful integration of a new-generation library into an existing university building by Warren and Mahoney Architects and AECOM was recognised in two categories: Education and Sustainability.
“The traditional notion of the library as book repository has been superseded as a place of learning and socialising,” the Awards jury said. Noting the architects’ thoughtful integration of green technologies, the jury also praised the University for its “commitment to the on-going monitoring of the building’s ‘life-time’ costings”.
The owners of the compact Te Awamutu House, designed by Stevens Lawson Architects, are unlikely to officially track their home’s energy use, but this project was also the recipient of an Award in the Sustainability category. Its design, the jury said, “demonstrates an understanding of sustainability first principles”, and achieves its environmental goals without recourse to “advanced or expensive technologies”.
The Te Awamutu House also received one of the five Awards made in the Housing category. “An orthogonal modern box with a series of arcs that elide the boundary between interior and exterior and knit the house into the landscape,” was the jury’s verdict.
A respectful approach to the environment is common to the other four awards in the Housing category. When McCoy + Heine Architects designed the Beach House Flexman Family holiday home, they were mindful of its visual impact on its Hahei waterfront site. Separate cedar-clad forms minimise the building’s bulk and deep recesses on the beach-front façade “break down the impact of the large areas of glazing,” the jury said.
Tramping huts were the architectural cue for Mitchell & Stout Architects in their design of Otoparae House. Located in a picturesque King Country valley, the building, with its cantilevered roof, “bends with the contours of the land”.
Overcoming the challenges of a small site and neighbouring two-storey properties, Antanas Procuta Architects designed Pipi Beach House to capture a view of the sea and Whangamata beach from a roof deck reached by an external circular stair in stainless steel. The jury described the house as a “low-maintenance holiday home with a striking appearance”.
In response to their clients’ brief for a platform from which to observe the ‘big sky’, Patterson Associates designed Maungakawa House as stage set within a bushy landscape. The house – part family home, part art gallery – exhibits a “bold recti-linearity and use of colour within its organic natural context,” the jury said.
The rural theme continues in Parbhu Barn, designed by Chow:Hill Architects, which received its Award in the Small Project category. This elegant shed at Horotui houses a tractor downstairs and a farmworker above. The self-sufficient design “pays homage to the Waikato rural vernacular,” the jury said.
There can be no greater recognition of a home’s merits than that it is never sold. The Brian and Jean Smith House, with its sunny outdoor courtyard and a snug reminiscent of an English cottage, was designed by Rod Smith Architects in the late 1970s and built in the mid-1980s. Twenty-seven years later, the Hamilton house’s original owners are still in residence – “a testimony to the timelessness of the design intent,” the jury said, in giving the house an Award for Enduring Architecture, a category that celebrates buildings of at least 25 years of age that continue admirably to serve their purpose.
The jury described the second recipient of an Award in the Enduring Architecture category, the Harris House designed in 1980 by Roger Walker Architect, as “a diamond, set in a fabulous lakefront setting.” The house, which overlooks Lake Rotoroa, is an “unusually quiet and matter of fact” example of the work of an exuberant architect, the jury said. “It sees Walker at his calmest, and it shows, both inside and out.”
All winners of 2013 Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards are eligible for consideration for the top tier of the annual Architecture Awards programme, the New Zealand Architecture Awards. These awards will be announced in May 2014.
The New Zealand Architecture Awards programme is supported by Resene and judged by juries appointed by the New Zealand Institute of Architects and its branches.
John Walsh, Communications Manager, New Zealand Institute of Architects
P: 021 276 7447