2012 Architecture Awards: Nelson/Marlborough a hotbed of talent

Thirteen projects got the nod at last night's 2012 Nelson/Marlborough Architecture Awards, announced at Stoke’s new Saxton Pavilion, itself one of the award-winning buildings.

Jury convenor, Nelson architect Jeremy Smith, says the quality of entrants and winners was impressive, especially in light of continuing economic challenges.

 “I was on the same jury seven years ago,” Smith says, “and standards now are appreciably higher.”  

There were particularly strong showings in the categories of commercial and residential architecture, he says, with winery architecture also emerging as a significant specialisation. 

 “The top of the South Island has become one of the hot spots in New Zealand architecture,” Smith says. “There have always been able architects in Nelson and Marlborough, but regional development, increased national and even international awareness of the district’s advantages, and a growing appreciation of the value of good design have increased the demand for quality architecture.”


Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, Blenheim - Fearon Hay Architects

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, Blenheim - Fearon Hay Architects

Photo: Patrick Reynolds

Judges said the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre was poetically sites and composed and “international in its ambition and quality”, from its extensive overhanging roof, blanketed in stones, to its subtle planar shifts and interplay with the Wairau Valley landscape and palette of concrete, glass, black steel, fabric and leather.

Cloudy Bay Shack, Blenheim - Paul Rolfe Architects and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects (Sydney) in association 

cloudy bay shack architecture awards

Photo: Mike Rolfe

Judges praised the cleverly shaped form, which in turn conceals and reveals the Marlborough landscape, and further anchors the Cloudy Bay brand. The pared back interiors showcase New Zealand-designed furniture, fittings and art. 


Saxton Pavilion, Stoke, Nelson – Arthouse Architects

Saxton pavilion architecture awards

Photo: Oliver Weber

Challenging the design orthodoxy for public sports buildings, this bold form lends distinctive character to a dual-use facility. Athletics and cricket are both well provided for in a high quality and well-scaled building featuring ample amenity, robustly detailed changing rooms, and a harmonious relationship with the surrounding landscape. The pavilion is a positive and muscular contribution to the genre of sports architecture.


Carver House, Nelson – Redbox Architects

carver house architecture awards

Photo: Elspeth Collier

In this house – the architect’s own family home – on a busy corner site, well positioned and connected private spaces cleverly weave into the public realm. The warm and comfortable house sensitively balances light, scale and intimacy, according to judges.

House for Tree Lovers, Collingwood, Nelson – Arthouse Architects

house for tree loversPhoto: Paul McCredie

Judges said the house has been beautifully conceived, well researched and carefully positioned within an ancient coastal Totara forest. The composition skips and meanders between the trees, ultimately connecting forest and sea. Simple, gentle, and appropriate to its site, the house "exhibits the craft of an architect totally familiar with the qualities of a unique environment.

Okiwa Bay House, Anakiwa, Marlborough Sounds - Tennent + Brown Architectsokiwa bay house

Photo: Marina Mathews

A brave and considered response to a dramatic and difficult site, where all the materials have been sensitively selected, intelligently detailed, and carefully finished and settles comfortably into the steep, bush-clad hillside.

Radman Brown House, Richmond, Nelson – Guy Herschell Architects

radman brown houseJudges deemed this a well-considered and appropriately simple family home. Sustainable practices have been pursued, and the siting of the house and the selection and use of materials are exemplary. A deceptively spacious plan complements and enhances the house’s rural setting. 

Twenty-One House, Nelson - Palmer & Palmer Architects

twenty one house nelsonCleverly responding to the adjacent river and the immediate neighbourhood, this house was judged "a beautifully composed and sequenced series of spaces". The contemporary forms have been well-crafted, and exhibit an imaginative selection and inventive use of materials.

Wairau Valley House, Blenheim - Parsonson Architects

wairau valley house blenheimPhoto: Paul McCredie

This "well-mannered and gracefully proportioned" ranch house is exquisitely planned and detailed throughout. A delightful interplay between off-the-form concrete, finished timber and glass, combined with clever shifts in scale and the layering of forms, has produced a wonderful variety of open and contained spaces complementary to the landscape.

Waiwhero Farm House, Moutere Hills - Tennent + Brown Architects

waiwhero farmhousPhoto: Jason Rothenberg

Sitting lightly within the hills above Motueka, this farm house responds cleverly and sympathetically with the landscape to yield an uplifting and wonderfully elegant contemporary home. The impeccably detailed and finished timber-clad volumes are mediated by subtle shifts in plane and the interplay of edge and connections. A deceptively effortless composition has been shaped and constructed by skilled hands.


Victory Primary School Redevelopment, Nelson – Arthouse Architectsvictory primary school redevelopment architecture awards

Photo: John-Paul Pochin

A lower-decile primary school and its surrounding community was sustainably refreshed through thoughtful efficiencies gained from the reuse of found materials, both fittings and whole buildings. 


House at Melrose Terrace, Nelson – E.A. Plischke (1961)

house at melrose terrace, architecture awards

Photo: Patrick Reynolds

This remarkable ‘rediscovery’ is a lesson in the core skills of home-making from one of New Zealand’s most admired and studied architects. The house was a significant influence on the Nelson architectural community in the 1960s and is still relevant as an exemplar of the planning, refinement and finesse of good modern architecture.

Britannia Heights House, Nelson - Hal Wagstaff Architect (1969)brittania heights house architecture awards

Photo: Craig Potton

Bravely cantilevering out over its steep and dramatic site, this house has an intimate walled garden entry, sunny, private central courtyard, and interior illuminated by a precipitous ribbon of glazing, seeming to expand and recede like the tide below.

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