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Auckland Architecture Awards sees celebration of diversity and strong competitive edge

Diversity was the major theme last night at MOTAT’s Aviation Hall in Western Springs, as the Auckland Architecture Awards were celebrated.

44 awards were shared among 20 firms for projects that ranged from small housing developments to large infrastructural works. 

Major hotspots for award-winning architecture included the Britomart precinct with its retail and hospitality destination appeal, Hobsonville Point’s primary school and multi-unit residential development Squadron Lane, as well as Titirangi’s awards in both public and housing categories.

Awards convenor and head of Unitec’s department of architecture, Tony van Raat, says one of the key things to stand out in this year’s competition is the range of diversity now available.

“The trend is now diversity, and a better relationship to cities,” van Raat says.

“[Firms are] displaying better understanding of relating to more environments, with wider design around enjoyment and in relation to the city.”

van Raat says this year’s entries were of a very high standard, revealing the skill, care and insights of their architects. He says that even though New Zealand has a lower volume of buildings being produced, the best that we have to offer is the best available anywhere internationally.

“New Zealand society continues to be well served by the profession, and in the Auckland region we were pleased to see that high standards are now common practice,” he says.

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One major aspect revealed at the awards, especially in the small project architecture category, is the various firms’ shift towards sustainability.

“Emphasis has been placed on importance of sustainability, which includes availability,” van Raat says.

The modest offerings that have come forth can still be great architecture, even though they’re not adorned with high budgets, says van Raat.

Julian Mitchell, of Mitchell & Stout Architects, who won awards in multiple categories with Lake Pupuke House and Lopdell House, says over all it was a “really, really strong year”, and competition was fierce.

“It’s really hard to make anything affordable, but [architects] are coming up with really small, delicate houses that are affordable,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell says being able to go to the awards in the MOTAT aviation hall was an amazing experience.

“Noticeably, last night everyone was in a very positive mood, and it’s an amazing thing to be around aeroplanes.”

He likened it to being a part of a different type of architecture that was equally as impressive.

The full listing of award winners can be found here.

Rights-cleared, hi-res images of all award-winning projects and a pdf of the 2015 awards booklet, with citations and a convener statement, can be downloaded here.

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