Wellington celebrates architecture’s grungier edge

Wellington celebrates architecture’s grungier edge

In what proved to be an exceptionally popular competition (over 90 entries), unashamedly "grungy" streetwise apartments, the City Gallery, the Zoo Hospital and  the new Supreme Court are among designs celebrated at last night's 2010 Wellington Architecture Awards. 

Judging panel convenor, architect Michael Melville, says he was surprised by the range  of architecture, especially when it came to residential housing. 

“They ranged from immaculate, very tightly designed houses to those that were much more textured and dealt with the sense of space. There was also quite a bit of humour - particularly in the Kapiti Retreat by Geoff Fletcher Architects.” 

Melville was joined on the jury by Wellington Architects Peter Mitchell and Guy Marriage. Lay juror was Philippa Tocker, executive director of Museums of Aotearoa. 

Graffiti architecture – grungy and streetwise 

The Cubana development, on Cuba Street, by Perry Architects, was among winners in the Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing category. 

Jurors praised the project for its “quirky and non-conformist” spaces and described it as “graffiti architecture – grungy and streetwise – and makes no apologies for this”. 

City Gallery and Zoo Hospital 

The transformation of the City Gallery Wellington by architecture+ was a winner in the Public Architecture category, hailed by jurors as “an example of an architect being given the rare opportunity to revisit a dream established many years in the past”. 

They also noted that the gallery, which reopened last year following an 11-month building development,  can now, in itself “be viewed as an object and not a building”. 

The Zoo Hospital, The Nest, by Warren and Mahoney was also a winner in the category, with jurors admiring the way it operates on extremes – at one level with clinical spaces, air sealed and hermetic, and on the other open air stalls for recovering animals. 

Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court of New Zealand, also by Warren and Mahoney was among winners in the Interior Architecture category, praised for its impeccable crafting and purity of form 

The project also won a Heritage award, described as having brought one of the country’s most distinguished and, more recently, most neglected buildings back to life. 

Playful retreat

The Kapiti Retreat at Raumati South, by Geoff Fletcher Architects, a winner in the Small Project Architecture category, was described as having “a constrained playfulness not often seen in New Zealand architecture”. 

Jurors were entertained by the quirky details including a subtle fold in the roof, edgeless kitchen bench, floating entry deck and “equally impossible entry canopy”. 

Jurors concluded: that the architect had “ended up creating a gem. This is a unique and inspirational piece of architecture”. 

Sustainable MAF building with civil emergency function 

The MAF Multipurpose Building in Upper Hutt by Stephenson & Turner NZ, provides a communal café and kitchen with lecture facilities but, during a national crisis, could double as a civil emergency centre for infectious disease. 

The building, a winner in the Sustainable Architecture category, includes recycled materials, passive and active air management, and storm water swales that give water back to the land – but jurors commented that “possibly the biggest and most sustainable aspect is its dual use”. 

Zealandia Visitor Centre 

Zealandia Visitor Centre, by Jasmax, was a winner in the Commercial Architecture category, praised as a “powerful and dramatic entry space” and “an excellent accompaniment to a life sustaining sanctuary”. 

Public Architecture

Victoria University’s Alan MacDiarmid Building, by Jasmax, which includes cutting edge earthquake technology, was a winner in Public Architecture, with judges praising it as entertaining and sophisticated.

The “irresistible” and “unashamedly retro” Customs Brew Bar in Wellington also by Jasmax, won an Interior Architecture award with judges commenting that it could even convert non coffee drinkers. 

Residential Architecture—Houses 

A Seatoun House by Parsonson Architects was among winners in Residential Architecture – Houses with jurors describing its “impossible cantilever that seems to leap across the harbour” as a “structural wonder”. 

The Dixon House at Martinborough by Designgroup Stapleton Elliott was hailed as “a stunning home” and “a delight to experience” while Courtyard House, also in Seatoun, by KebbellDaish, was a “considered and intentional exploration into what is meant by craft architecture”. 

A Greytown House, also by Parsonson Architects, was praised as “discretely detailed with striking forms and clearly arranged spaces”. 

Ground House at Whitby by Archiscape was described as a “beautifully ‘aware’ piece of architecture and Novak + Middleton Architects were seen to have breathed new life into the Te Rama homestead at Waikanae with beautifully finished stone and timber joinery giving the home “a grandeur befitting its past”.

The Pukurua Bay House, by John Mills Architects, situated “impossibly close to the ocean” was admired as “a textural experience with internal spaces that contradict the simplicity of the exterior form”. 

Residential—Multiple Housing and Sustainable Architecture 

Winners in Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing also included the Patent 326 Apartments, by Warren and Mahoney, built on the side of a south-facing Wellington hill and maximising stunning views and sunlight. 

The Te Ara Hou flats at Newtown by Novak + Middleton Architects were a winner in the Sustainable Architecture category, seen as a “project of the most sustainable kind: retaining and reviving a structure as a flagship public housing project”. 

Jurors said that, thanks to careful integration of new features and drastically improved standards, the newly insulated building envelopes would improve residents’ health. 

Small Project Architecture 

A Peka Peka Beach House by Parsonson Architects was among winners in Small Project Architecture, charming jurors with its “hidden passages leading to clever spaces and even cleverer details. 

The Boathouse at Plimmerton by Novak + Middleton Architects was described as simple in its “archetypal form and raw materiality”. 

The Arbuckle House Alteration in Thorndon by Mary Daish Architect and Tse:Wallace Architects in association created “simplicity and a calming, successful living space” out of a formerly cluttered house”. 

An extension to the Cousins family home in Wellington, by Herriot + Melhuish: Architecture (HMA) was seen to cross “The divide between architecture and crafted joinery” and a new kitchen and shed to a Mount Victoria House by Andrew Sexton Architecture was deemed “a winner” for its simplicity of materials and clarity of presentation. 

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.

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