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Whangārei’s Civic Centre Wins Architecture Award

Te Iwitahi - Whangarei Civic Centre | Photo by Mark Scowen Photography supplied via LDR

Whangārei's $59 million Te Iwitahi civic centre has been honoured for it "strong tikanga Māori narrative" at the Auckland region's Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards.

The Whangārei District Council building won a commercial architecture award for Auckland-based TEAM Architects at the event in Auckland on Wednesday 15 May.

Te Iwitahi sought to connect those in the building more closely to nature. The building features include natural lighting and ventilation, two green-walled stairways and a four-storey atrium.

The building was commended by judges for its “universal multi-cultural themes and a strong tikanga Māori narrative”.

Judges said the ambitious civic building placed the community, council staff and principles of placemaking at the very heart of the design approach.

Te Iwitahi was an attractive, collegial and comfortable working environment, the centre highly popular with the community and staff, judges said.

Meanwhile, Whangārei’s controversial Kāinga Ora Puriri Park Road development also won a planning and urban design award for Auckland-based Architectus.

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Judges said the project was a well-planned housing community carefully stitched and integrated into its existing neighbourhood,

“The masterplan for Kāinga Ora provides much-needed new homes for vulnerable members of the community in the Northland region.

“Incorporation of the existing recreational open space, retention of mature trees on the street frontage and access to the adjacent puriri forest make a unique backdrop to the houses. A small community hub offers space to bring residents together."

Puriri Park Road has 37 new homes with people moving into the first of these in mid-2022.

The two projects were among six winners from the North at the architectural awards. The Auckland region covers the area from South Auckland to Northland, with overall national winners announced in November.

The North’s other winners included Glamuzina Architects winning a commercial award for Awanui’s Kā Uri facility, which welcomes visitors to the Far North’s Te Hiku o Te Ika and builds community resilience for Ngāti Kuri.

Awanui’s Kā Uri was symbolic as the physical gateway to the Far North’s Te Hiku o Te Ika, judges said. It comprised a repurposed building that welcomed visitors, hosted events, provided local employment opportunities, supported community programmes and accommodated a waka school.

Mangawhai’s Tara Iti Golf Club won a house architecture award for Auckland’s Studio John Irving Architects.

Studio John Irving Architects also won awards for two projects at the adjacent Te Arai Golf course south of Mangawhai – a hospitality architecture award for Ric’s cafe and commercial category award for The Suites hotel.

Judges said Ric’s was carefully sited in the dunes adjacent to Te Arai links golf course. It overlooked the 12-hole putting green, with views out to Taranga and Marotiri islands.

It was quietly unassuming under a corrugated mantle and evoked a contemporary coastal-rural vernacular, judges said.

Irving also won one of the housing category awards for his Tara Iti Golf Club house near Mangawhai. Judges said Glider, a reimagined A-frame house defied its size by rescaling perspective.

Its simple form was splayed and anchored at four points in the sand dunes of Tara Iti Golf Club. Its timber-clad roof disguised a large skylight to the central living space and was peeled back from the sides to reveal a bedroom suite either side, judges said.

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