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2012 Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards

Diversity and quality distinguish
2012 Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards

Twenty-one architectural projects, ranging from work at two of New Zealand’s most significant heritage sites, Rotorua Museum and Turangawaewae Marae, to educational campuses around Hamilton and a small transportable bach on the Coromandel peninsula have been acknowledged in the 2012 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards.

The winners in the annual awards programme run by the Waikato-Bay of Plenty branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects were announced at an event in Hamilton on 26 October.

The convenor of the awards jury, Taupo architect Sean Harris, said this year’s awards were characterised by a wide spread of buildings from regional centres in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty districts.

“We also found that architects are doing a lot more with less,” Harris said. “This may be a result of current economic conditions, but I think it’s evident that clients are increasingly well informed and are, rightly, demanding in their approach.”

“People using architects are looking for quality,” Harris said. “And it shows – there’s no good building without a good client and we were impressed with the standard of the projects we visited.”

Several of the award-winning projects are buildings refurbished for community or communal use. The Rotorua Museum of Art + History, thanks to Sigma Associates, has been extended so that it is now finally completed to its original 1908 design. The result, the jury said, “is a new lease of life for one of New Zealand’s iconic buildings”.

At Ngaruawahia, Salmond Reed Architects have restored and upgraded two buildings at Turangawaewae Marae, the seat of the King Movement. At the meeting house, Mahinarangi, and the royal residence, Turongo, the architects, have, the awards jury said, “taken great care not to disturb the original fabric and decoration of the buildings”.

The Whakatane Library & Exhibition Centre, designed by Irving Smith Jack Architects, won two awards, one for public architecture and one for sustainable architecture. The jury praised this work of “civic reinvention” in which the architects have “turned an unprepossessing former retail space into a pleasant, functional and much-needed civic amenity.”

The adaptation of existing buildings was a strategy pursued across several types of buildings, Harris says. At the Ruakura Research Campus of Tai Wananga, also a double award winner, in both the education and sustainable architecture categories, Chow:Hill Architects “have taken an under-utilised but structurally sound laboratory complex and converted it into a light-filled and well-ventilated modern learning environment”.

In similar spirit, Antanas Procuta Architects have transformed the “rigid and rectilinear layout” of the offices of Waikato University’s School of Psychology into “a freer-formed, light and airy environment”, and Edwards White Architects have turned the tired lobby of a downtown Hamilton commercial building into “an understated, sophisticated and welcoming entry”.

Another educational building to win an award is the Sports Education Centre at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls in Hamilton, designed by Antanas Procuta Architects. The jury said the building’s transparency “allows natural light to flood the gymnasium and establishes excellent connections to a generous open space sheltered by mature oak trees”.

Harris said there was a strong showing of commercial buildings in the awards, among them two buildings in Te Rapa. Number 8 Maui Street, a building for a packaging company, has been “cleverly and appropriately designed” by Archimedia Group as “a packaged container sitting lightly on its site”, and Te Awa, an enclosed shopping complex designed by Ignite Architects, “is informed by cultural themes generated by and important to the iwi client group”.

With the Laser Eye Clinic in Hamilton, Chibnall Buckell Marovic Team Architects have reused an existing base and designed “a well sited and clean-lined building with a modest and expressive street presence”. Te Awamutu’s Vetfocus Veterinary Centre, designed by DLA Architects, is “well planned” with an “environmentally aware strategy that includes the recycling of existing building elements and the incorporation of energy efficient technologies”.

In Tauranga Sharp Tudhope, designed by Jasmax and Matrixx Architects, is, the awards jury said, a “confident and well-executed building on a busy promenade, respectful of context and promising enduring quality”, and in Hamilton Chow:Hill Architects’ fitout of the Staples Rodway premises provides “an easy flow and a light and airy environment, discretely structured by sympathetic design”.

Residential work, of whatever scale, is a forte of New Zealand architects, and it’s not surprising, Harris said, that houses figure strongly in the 2012 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards.

Three of the award-winning houses are in Hamilton. Edwards White Architects’ Arran Road Residence is a “clean-lined building that takes advantage of its site overlooking a park bordering the Waikato river”, while the same practices’ Te Awa Lane Residence is a “comfortable, modern country home” on a greenfield site.

Ambienti Team Architects received an award for a house alteration, a type of work that is a mainstay of architects’ work. The awards jury said that a bedroom wing, courtyard and outdoor areas have added to an existing house in a manner that is both sympathetic and idiosyncratic”.

The four coastal residential award winners include 10 houses at a marae near Papamoa designed by Babbage Consultants. The Mangatawa Papakainga Kaumatua houses might be modest, but, the jury said, they are “making a big difference to the lives of their inhabitants”.
At Whakatane, Carling Architects’ have restored the nineteenth century Kirk House “to its former glory and adapted it to contemporary habitation”, and with the McHardy House at Waihi, Roger Course Architect has produced a “warm and comfortable house well sited to take advantage of its rural prospect and well adapted to local climatic conditions”.

Harris said the awards jury was charmed and intrigued by the Hut on Sleds, a transportable Whangapoua bach designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects, another double award winner, in the categories of small project architecture and sustainable architecture. “Seemingly a back to basics hut,” the jury said, “this beach house is in fact carefully designed to eke out every last bit of its 40 square metres of space in order to accommodate a family of five”.

Harris said an important quality of good architecture is that it is designed and built to last. For that reason, he said, it was pleasing to give an award for enduring architecture to the Cowley Residence, a house designed in 1962 by the late Hamilton architect Dick Mercer.

“Fifty years after it completion this house remains an exemplary work,” the awards jury said. “In its form, scale and programme it perfectly expresses a moment in this country’s architecture – a time when New Zealand houses were modest in size, sufficient in amenity and made of local materials.”

The 2012 Waikato-Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards is an official awards programme of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. Joining Sean Harris on the awards jury were New Plymouth architect Murali Bhaskar, Taupo architect Fraser Cameron and Hamilton journalist Tracey Cooper.


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