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A touch of award-winning southern sustainability

A touch of award-winning southern sustainability

From an opera house to a bus shelter, and even public loos—the winners from the recent NZIA 2010 Southern Architecture Awards are a diverse bunch. And sustainability gets a decent look-in too.

Judging panel convener architect Chris Doudney says there had been a very high standard of entries and it was gratifying to see steady progress towards more sustainable architecture, particularly in residential projects. 

“It was a privilege to be able to view these projects,” he says. “Certainly more clients are recognising the importance of sustainable design and requesting that as part of the brief. 

 “We saw some very interesting elements including the use of geothermal bores as heat sources for heat pump systems.” 

Doudney, who is based in Christchurch and Dunedin, was joined on the jury by architect Michael Wyatt from Queenstown and architectural graduate Hannah Sharp from Dunedin. The lay juror was heritage and built environment consultant Elizabeth Kerr from Dunedin.

As well as visiting all shortlisted properties, the judges met whenever possible with the architects and clients. The buildings were judged against a series of key criteria including their contribution to the advancement of architecture as a discipline and enhancement of the human spirit.

And now, starting off with the grandest of winners... 

Opera House redevelopment

The Oamaru Opera House Redevelopment by Williams Ross Architects was a winner in the Public Architecture category, hailed for reclaiming a previously almost unusable building and creating “a magnificent community asset for performance”. 

The new backstage facilities wing, with its two-storey glazed atrium was praised as making “a tour de force of the old Oamaru stone wall it abuts”. 

Jurors also noted: “The conserved original building sits comfortably alongside the confidently detailed modern elements. The interior fitout skilfully complements the iconic architecture.”

New home for global leader in film industry

The Natural History New Zealand Dunedin Premises was a winner in the Commercial Architecture category. Jurors said the project had transformed a jaded industrial building “providing a new home for a global leader in the film industry”. 

Features of the project by Baker Garden Architects include the rigid existing floor plates being broken to create a sunlight-filled atrium with a bridge-like circulation arrangement connecting flexible perimeter workspaces.

Elegant ecosanctuary and flagship loos

Public Architecture Award winners also included The New Orokonui Ecosanctuary Visitor Centre in Dunedin, by Architectural Ecology, admired as an “astonishingly elegant work of architecture” achieved from a simple brief and modest budget. 

The Frankton Bus Shelter and Public Toilets in Queenstown, by Mary Jowett Architects, was described as a flagship facility that earns the respect of its users. 

Sustainable Architecture awards for university buildings

The new University of Otago – William James Building, also by Architectural Ecology, won a Sustainable Architecture award and was praised as responsive, energy efficient and sustainable, pointing “the way forward for campus development”. 

The University of Otago, Microbiology Building Re-Clad and Climate Control by Opus Architecture was also a winner in the category. 

Jurors admired the way a new skin over the existing concrete facings, together with upgraded heating and ventilation services had “transformed this previously deteriorating and underperforming building”. 

They also noted the “subtle two-tone bronze colouration, which glows gently in morning and evening sunlight”. 

Commercial architecture winners also included Wyuna, at Glenorchy, Otago, by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Chin Architects. 

The project, a community recreation facility for a planned residential development, includes a spa, pool and boathouse. 

Jurors said the building is confidently and beautifully detailed giving “a nod to historic working sheds on the surrounding farm”, and sits in harmony with the commanding landscape. 

Residential Architecture—Houses

Winners in the Residential Architecture – Houses category included Albert Town House by McCoy and Wixon Architects, described as “a delicate house camped on the banks of the Clutha”. 

Jurors admired the way the living space and outdoor areas had been “skilfully manipulated along the river edge of the site in an open gesture of freedom and lightness”. 

A Northburn Peninsula House in Cromwell, also by McCoy and Wixon Architects and glazed on three sides was seen as “welcoming, bright and airy” and “sits lightly on the Central Otago landscape”. 

An Arrowtown House, by Kerr Ritchie, which is “nestled gently against its hillside among the apricots”, was praised as a “warm, enchanting and distinctly modern home”. 

A Kelvin Heights House in Queenstown by Athfield Architects was described as a “joy to inhabit,” with a “masterly composition of overlapping courtyards, terraces, rooms and circulation spaces”. 

The QT Haus in Queenstown, by Richard Priest Architecture, was admired as powerfully executed, combining “Lakeland alpine living with urban chic”. 

The clever use of natural light and materials, including wood, textured concrete, steel and glass, was seen to lend “an ethereal quality” to the generously proportioned Ross Creek House at Maori Hill, Dunedin, by Mason & Wales Architects. 

Te Kaitaka – Lake Wanaka Retreat by Stevens Lawson Architects, was described as “this rock-like multifaceted house – tucked into the rugged hillside” with a sense of calm permanence and protection in an exposed remote site. 

The Waite House in Wanaka, by Rafe Maclean Architects, was seen as stylish and contemporary, tracing the low linear ’kiwi modern’ style of the 1940s while dealing directly to new expression. 

Alterations and additions to the McMillan Street Residence in Dunedin by Richard E Shackleton Architects, was described as an “enjoyable transformation” of a cottage. Jurors admired the “witty steel verandah columns” and “new garden-focused modern extension”.

More about the awards 

The awards are open to all NZIA Practices, and projects can be entered into one or more of 10 categories – Public Architecture, Residential Architecture – Housing, Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing, Commercial Architecture, Urban Design, Interior Architecture, Heritage, Small Project Architecture, Sustainability, and Enduring Architecture.   

There is no limit to the number of awards the local jury can make in any category.   

The programme has three tiers, progressing from the eight regional awards to national recognition – the New Zealand Architecture Awards—and through to the ultimate accolade, the New Zealand Architecture Medal.   

All local winners become eligible for consideration for a New Zealand Architecture Award, decided by a national jury, which includes an overseas judge, in early 2011.   

In May at the NZIA’s annual Gala Dinner, the finalists for the New Zealand Architecture Medal will be announced, and the winner named later in the evening. Only one New Zealand Architecture Medal is bestowed each year, in recognition of a single built work.