Palmerston North takes the biggest bite of the Western Architecture Awards pie

Round six of the local architecture awards has wrapped up, with Palmerston North entries proving big winners on the night. A total of five Palmerston North projects took home an award in the 2011 Western Architecture Awards, with 12 awards dished out in total. 

Like the Wellingotn awards, the number of entries this year were down on the Western front, but Awards jury convenor and New Plymouth architect Murali Bhaskar said the quality of the projects showed that “good architects can overcome very financial constraints”. 

The jury was particularly impressed by a number of public projects in which architects had worked closely with communities to produce buildings that are valuable civic assets. Take the Palmerston North Community House for example. Judges said the one-stop services centre designed by Shadbolt Architects “exemplifies the difference an architect can make to the life of a community”. Meanwhile judges said the Palmerston North Youth Space, designed to “a very modest budget” by Proarch Architects, is “a much-needed destination where the city’s young people can meet in a safe and enjoyable environment”. 

The complete list of winners, together with judges comments, follows: 

Commercial Architecture 

Knoll Ridge Café, Whakapapa, by Harris Butt Architecture T/A HB Architecture 

The client’s brief for a mountainside building that would enhance his customers’ alpine experience required clever solutions to substantial challenges. Wind and snow loadings, site access and sheer buildability in a location requiring the aerial delivery of materials were among the issues confronted. The result is a stunning building that sits comfortably in the snowscape, mimicking the terrain with its unique yet simple roof form.        

Totally Vets Hospital, Feilding, by Dalgleish Architects Ltd 

The cleverly arranged entrances to this elegant shed lead to a calm, airy and light interior, featuring an impressive foyer and retail space. The functional requirements of the facility, which are akin to those of a hospital for humans, have been carefully considered and efficiently accommodated, and the standard of the detailing is in sympathy with the quality of the architectural form. 


I-Site, Wanganui, by Void Architecture Research Urbanism  

The Architect has successfully adapted and partially restored an old building handicapped by its accretion of ill-assorted materials. The original timber façade has been retained, while the interior has been opened up and, at the Architect’s suggestion, a gallery has been inserted. Capitalising on the building’s riverside site, the Architect has produced a visitor information centre that is now an attraction in its own right.    

Planning and Urban Design 

Wanganui Gateway, by Void Architecture Research Urbanism  

The Architect’s response to a brief for a gateway to Whanganui expressive of the city’s identity combines elements of urban design, engineering, landscape architecture, sculpture, gardening, lighting and craft. Its site, purpose and civic dimension meant that this was not a straightforward project, but the Architect has devised a built gesture that challenges visitors as they approach and depart an historic city.      

Public Architecture 

Palmerston North Boys High School – Dining Hall, by Proarch Architects Ltd 

Sited alongside a major arterial route, the dining hall at Palmerston North Boys High School caters for 160 boarders and 20 staff, and serves the secondary function of providing a buffer against the road and its traffic. The Architect’s clever planning and disposition of a generous space anticipates further increases in the school’s roll. 

Palmerston North Community House, by Architype  – Shadbolt Architects Ltd 

This project exemplifies the difference an Architect can make to the life of a community. Responding to a brief shaped by the requirements of numerous user groups, and working through a complex design process, the Architect has delivered a one-stop services centre for 16 Palmerston North community organisations. Through the use of façade elements such as bright, welcoming colours, and the timber slats and the patterns on precast concrete walls that refer to the region’s human and natural history, the Architect has transcended the limitations of a very tight budget.      

TSB Hub Sports and Event Centre, Hawera, by Jackson Architects Ltd 

The Architect has responded well to a complex brief and managed a challenging design process to provide a facility that has an important place in the life of a provincial town. The new sports and events centre has been successfully integrated with the facilities of the adjacent high school. Natural light and fresh air are brought into the efficiently organised interior spaces, and there is a human scale to the two entrances. 

Residential Architecture — Houses 

Cotton Bond House, Palmerston North, by E3 Architects and Duckett Architecture in association 

Scrupulous attention to detail is manifest in this modern dwelling in suburban Palmerston North, which is the result of a close collaboration between the clients, both of whom are artists and art collectors, and their Architect. The clients’ appreciation for clear circulation has prompted the Architect to clarify junctions between spaces and materials to minute tolerances. The palette of black and white used in materials and finishes further suggests that this building with its floating pavilions is an accomplished amalgam of home and art gallery.        

Humphries Residence, Palmerston North, by Architype – Shadbolt Architects Ltd 

On a greenfields site subject to district plan envelope restrictions and design covenants, the Architect has produced a well proportioned ‘lodge’ style house with a clear circulation axis focused on a large central volume. This is a comfortable family home, characterised by material variety, as specified in the brief, and warm surface finishes.     

Wallin House, Bell Block, by Saunders Architects Ltd 

In this project, a substantial alteration to an existing building, the Architect has designed a house that makes full and lively use of a small urban site. The Architect has accommodated the clients’ requirement that open plan living be combined with discrete spaces and private areas. The double height atrium around which the house is organised is a successful means of introducing natural light into the interior of a materially diverse building.   

Small Project Architetcure 

Opunake Primary School – Te Putahi Ako Canopy, by Chapman Oulsnam Speirs Ltd 

Providing both protection and a link to the outdoors for two classrooms, the canopy over Opunake Primary School’s Te Putahi Ako (Learning Centre) is a restrained, contemporary addition that sits well with the existing building. The balustrade of the accompanying ramp is a lightly handled juxtaposition to the canopy, which is appropriately scaled to the children it shelters, and the new structure is well aligned with the school’s powhiri gate. 

Palmerston North Youth Space, by Proarch Architects Ltd 

Working with a very modest budget, the Architect has refurbished an existing building in Palmerston North’s café precinct to provide a much-needed destination where the city’s young people can meet in a safe and enjoyable environment. The Architect has responded to the brief and the character of the facility’s users by designing a well-organised and flexible space. 

The Palmerston North Youth Space also won the Resene Colour Award, with judges commenting the bright colours complement the lighting scheme and together these elements have aided the Architect in overcoming budget limitations to produce an appropriately vibrant space.

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