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Studio Pacific-designed space for NZ's founding documents

New Zealand’s key founding documents now housed in a Studio Pacific Architecture designed document room


The Studio Pacific designed new home for three of New Zealand’s key founding documents was formally opened by the Governor-General in a moving ceremony at the National Library of New Zealand on Friday. It houses He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the 1835 Declaration of Independence of the Northern Chiefs), Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi) and Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine (the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition) and responds to several significant design imperatives.

‘The building is conceived as a contemporary form of wakahuia – a treasure box. It is a strong simple geometric form on the outside with a beautifully carved contemplative space on the inside,’ says Studio Pacific Architecture Director Evzen Novak. ‘It is built entirely of timber and complex computer controlled machinery has been used to carve out an interior realm that mirrors the importance of the documents it houses.

‘The traditional heavily carved wakahuia is passed from one generation to the next, and is used to store taonga, the most valuable of objects. Just as the key documents showcased here talk of the past, they also provide inspiration for the future. The documents themselves take central stage within the building and the accompanying exhibition.

Studio Pacific Architecture (also responsible for Wellington Airport’s leaning control tower currently under construction) collaborate with a number of partners. In the case of the document room, the partnership has been with clients in the National Library and Archives New Zealand, fellow designers Story Inc., responsible for the exhibition design, Click Suite responsible for the digital design within the exhibition and Fletcher Construction, responsible for the construction.

‘In addition to solving the technical and functional needs for ensuring the future safety of the three key documents, the documents themselves have driven the design, its form and materials, to ensure viewing our country’s taonga [treasures] is a memorable experience.’

About Studio Pacific

Formed 25 years ago Studio Pacific has a staff of 75 based in Wellington, New Zealand. It provides architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and interior design services for projects in all parts of New Zealand and is an NZIA and RIBA practice.

Significant Studio Pacific projects include the new Airways Control Tower at Wellington Airport leaning 12.5 degrees into the northerly winds of Wellington; the ‘Rock’, a new International Terminal extension at Wellington Airport; One Market Lane, Wellington and the New Zealand Memorial in Canberra, Australia.

Other acclaimed buildings utilising New Zealand engineered timber technology in a significant manner include the new Nelson Airport Terminal (now under construction); the timber Aviation Display Hall for MOTAT in Auckland; St Joseph’s Church, Wellington; and Aratoi Museum, Masterton.

Studio Pacific has a strong track record integrating imaginative ideas with the technical challenges of construction to create remarkable and evocative buildings.

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