From a heliport to a NYC loft: Eclectic winners announced in 2011 NZ Architecture Awards

From a heliport to a NYC loft: Eclectic winners announced in 2011 NZ Architecture Awards

Last year’s regional architecture awards, held by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), revealed the wealth of stunning, smart and stylish architecture on offer throughout the country. And now the NZIA has selected the absolute best, announcing the winners of the 2011 New Zealand Architecture Awards. 

Buildings ranging from an office tower in Auckland to an opera house in Oamaru, from houses on Waiheke Island to a serene Hawkes Bay house designed by Sir Miles Warren in the 1970s, and even a New York City apartment, were among the winners in the official awards programme. 

The New Zealand Architecture Awards indicate the breadth of work undertaken by the country’s architects, and offer a snapshot of the state of the country’s architecture, says Awards jury convenor, Wellington architect Hugh Tennent. 

The Awards are evidence that New Zealand architecture is in a healthy and vibrant state, despite current economic and financial difficulties,” says Tennent. 

“We were particularly impressed with some brilliant public and commercial buildings. The Birkenhead Library and Community Centre is a wonderful community asset, St Kentigern School Jubilee Sports Centre is very cleverly sited, and the high-rise at 21 Queen Street shows that sustainability and commerce can be reconciled.” 

Tenanent also notes residential architecture as another strong category. 

“Highly accomplished houses are being designed by New Zealand architects, often in beautiful settings. New Zealanders traditionally have prized landscapes over buildings, but architecture and the environment shouldn’t be at odds. 

“Houses like those designed by Mitchell and Stout, Patterson Associates and Fearon Hay on Waiheke Island, and by Stevens Lawson at Te Mata and Wanaka, and the Dunedin eco-sanctuary designed by Architectural Ecology, prove architecture can be appreciated in the landscape in its own right.”

As well as recognising new work, the jury gave Awards to older buildings of enduring worth. 

“The Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington is nearly 30 years old and the Freyberg Pool was built in the 1960s, but they still feel modern and they’re still enjoyed by the community. They’re integral to the Wellington cityscape.”

The jury also acknowledged two buildings of even earlier vintage, the original Supreme Court in Wellington and the Oamaru Opera House. 

“The Supreme Court is a very well done restoration job, while the Oamaru Opera House is an excellent example of clear, unfussy adaptive re-use,” Tennent says. “The town should be very proud of what it and its architects have achieved.” 

One message the Awards send, Tennent says, is that architectural quality is not dependent on building scale. Several Awards were given in the small project category. Appropriately enough, one went to an Auckland building commissioned by Plunket, the organisation that cares for our smallest citizens. 

The Awards jury, comprised of Hugh Tennent, Auckland architects Marshall Cook and Daniel Marshall and international juror, Sydney architect Camilla Block, made awards in 10 categories. From the winners that follow below, the jury will select an overall winner who will receive the 2011 New Zealand Architecture Medal, will be announced on 20 May. 

2011 New Zealand Architecture Award winners, with judges citations

Commercial Architecture

  • Auckland Heliport, Onehunga, Auckland

Architect: Maxcey Architects Ltd

“Bringing transparency and translucency to internal walls and the operable southern façade, the Architect has designed a building that celebrates flight and flying machines.” 

  • 21Queen Street, Auckland Central

Architect: Peddle Thorp Aitken Limited

“A Cinderella-like transformation of an unremarkable but fundamentally sound building into a graceful tower that enhances the cityscape of downtown Auckland Commercial Architecture.” 


  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre, Otorohanga, Waikato

Architect: Architecture Workshop Ltd

“Standing in counterpoint to the subterranean experience that awaits its visitors, the building has a poetic quality that sustains multiple readings – as hinaki, or eel trap, for example, or cave of light.” 

Enduring Architecture

  • Foster House, Havelock North

Architect: Warren and Mahoney Ltd 

“All elements, built and natural, cohere and complement each other to produce a quiet and calm effect.” 

  • Freyberg Pool, Wellington

Architect: King and Dawson 

“Swimmers in Wellington will often be grateful for a building around them, and always be thankful for the modest wonder that is the Freyberg Pool.” 

  • Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Architect: Warren and Mahoney Ltd 

“Drawing on, and learning from, their experience at Christchurch Town Hall, the Architects produced a building with a lofty auditorium, boldly cantilevered balconies, state-of-the-art acoustic performance and perfected sightlines.” 


  • Oamaru Opera House, Oamaru

Architect: Williams Ross Architects

“In this perfectly pitched project, a fine but neglected provincial opera house has been successfully redeveloped as a magnificent resource for its town.” 

  • Supreme Court of New Zealand, Wellington

Architect: Warren and Mahoney Ltd

“The building’s history has been celebrated, while the insertion of contemporary furniture has allowed functional and relevant occupation.” 

Interior Architecture

  • Supreme Court of New Zealand, Wellington

Architect: Warren and Mahoney Ltd

“The interior of the court is an extraordinary room displaying, in its joinery and execution, a high level of refined craftsmanship.” 

International Architecture

  • Tribeca Loft, New York

Architect: Fearon Hay Architects Ltd 

“In this sophisticated example of architectural interventionism, bedrooms created as elevated glass cases have been inserted into the shell of a New York apartment to produce spaces with a delicate and ethereal quality.” 

Public Architecture

  • St Kentigern School Jubilee Sports Centre, Remuera, Auckland 

Architect: Architectus 

“Some architectural conjury – more vanishing act than magic trick – has been deployed on this project. The burying of a large volume into a slope between two sports fields has unlocked the potential of the site.” 

  • City Gallery Wellington, Civic Square, Wellington

Architect: architecture+ 

“The extension and now second alteration of the original building is a case-study in the successful adaptation of heritage structure and evidence of a highly-developed understanding of urban space.” 

  • Birkenhead Library & Civic Centre, Birkenhead, Auckland 

Architect: Archoffice 

“Textured surfaces and dappled light help to realise the Architect’s idea that the experience of reading a book in the library might be akin to reading a book in a tree.” 

Residential Architecture – House

  • Island Retreat, Waiheke Island

Architect: Fearon Hay Architects Ltd

“The house is rather severe in appearance. However, this austerity is alleviated by occupation, as the inhabitants move within a loose courtyard conceived as a camping space and the taut boxes open up to reveal refined interiors.” 

  • Waiheke Island House, Waiheke Island 

Architect: Mitchell & Stout Architects Ltd

“The house offers several extraordinary moments: the ‘thinking room’, a double-height space for music and contemplation so arresting that one’s breathing changes upon entry; the guest sleeping areas, tiny screened spaces reminiscent of Ryokan architecture and also suggestive of tree huts; and the brightly yellow main bedroom. This is a house that engages with the spirit as well as all the senses.” 

  • Local Rock House, Waiheke Island 

Architect: Patterson Associates Ltd

“The hard, good looks of the house are softened by the texture of the local rock, with no sacrifice to the restrained refinement of the composition.” 

  • Te Mata House, Havelock North

Architect: Stevens Lawson Architects Ltd

“A recessive, black form provides shelter from the wind and sequential framed views. Art is important to this project: the house, which itself has a sculptural quality, was always envisaged as a repository for artworks, and a cleverly striated plan allows the clients’ collection to be incorporated into both rooms and circulation areas.” 

  • Te Kaitaka – Lake Wanaka Retreat, Wanaka

Architect: Stevens Lawson Architects Ltd

“The building, which is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka, possesses a sculptural quality that mirrors the surrounding landforms and mountains.” 

Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing

  • Te Puni Village, Victoria University of Wellington 

Architect: Architectus

“A dense programme is cleverly resolved in this facility providing student accommodation and communal spaces on a steep slope overlooking the city.” 

Small Project Architecture

  • Parakete Ora, Sandringham Plunket, Sandringham, Auckland 

Architect: SGA Ltd – Strachan Group Architects

“A simple form and straightforward economy of construction testifies to an understanding of New Zealand lightweight building traditions and techniques. This sympathetic building is an excellent introduction to architecture for some of our youngest citizens.” 

  • Kapiti Retreat, Raumati South

Architect: Geoff Fletcher Architects Ltd

“A building reduced to its essence, this little beach house is testament to the virtue of sufficiency. Simple and pleasurable, it has everything one needs, and no more.” 

  • iPAD at Porikapa Beach, Porikapa Beach, Taranaki 

Architect: Architex New Zealand Ltd 

“This is a fine specimen of that elusive species, the successful modular house. No space is wasted in this inventive building.” 

Sustainable Architecture

  • 21Queen Street, Auckland Central

Architect: Peddle Thorp Aitken Limited

“A 1970s commercial building, tired but by no means exhausted, has been given a new and more profitable lease of life.” 

  • Orokonui Ecosanctuary Visitor Centre, Dunedin

Architect: Architectural Ecology Ltd 

“The function of the facility is celebrated by the architecture, which provides a commanding space overlooking the protected regenerating flora and oriented towards significant landforms.” 

Urban Design

  • Newmarket Railway Station, Newmarket, Auckland

Architect: Opus Architecture and Herriot+Melhuish:Architecture in association

“On a technically demanding site, the Architects have skilfully handled the programme to produce an urban room that uplifts the journey for the city’s rail users.” 

  • Frankton Bus Shelter and Public Toilets, Queenstown

Architect: Mary Jowett Architects Ltd 

“This carefully considered project is a most welcome community asset, offering shelter and public amenity with style and delightful straightforwardness.”

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