Winners of the 2017 Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards set a high standard for the region, say judges.
From Waiotahe to Whangapoua, compact housing to large commercial buildings, small budgets to big commissions, the award winners reveal a rich variety of site, scale and style, says awards convenor and Hamilton-based architect Steven Chambers.
Nineteen buildings won awards at last month’s event held at Tauranga Art Gallery.
The winning works in the peer-reviewed awards programme set a very high standard for architecture in the region, says Steven. And despite the diversity of the 25 projects the jury visited, there was one thing the award-winners had in common.
“At each property we visited it was a delight to see the architects and their clients revelling in the fantastic environments they had created,” he says.
“It was a testimony to the positive relationships that were formed right at the very start of each project, when briefs were written and concepts were investigated. Good architecture is the result of positive working relationships between those who commission a building and those who design it.”
Steven particularly admired the dedication and creativity shown by architects working to limited budgets.
“These projects showed that architects and clients were not going to allow budget constraints to compromise the architecture and the user experience, and as a result we saw the imaginative use of materials, clever arrangement of space and the provision of sympathetic work, study and living environments.”
Steven’s fellow jurors were Nelson architect Andrew Irving, and experienced Waikato / Bay of Plenty architects Belinda Ellis and Jane Hill.
Two very different education projects won awards this year. Tarawera High School, by RTA Studio, was designed according to the Ministry of Education’s new directives for Innovative Learning Environments.
“The school is an inspiring exemplar of architecture embedded in place and community,” says Steven. “It exceeds the potential limitations of budget to deliver uplifting and authentic innovative learning environments.”
While Tarawera High School is colourful and open, the new Law & Management Building at the University of Waikato, designed by Opus Architecture, is a “powerful expression of solid mass and void”, he says. The large-scale concrete building “asserts itself boldly on its corner site, communicating both permanence and quality.”
Hamilton architecture practice Edwards White received three awards this year, including a commercial award for the refurbished South Bloc Building in Hamilton. The building was taken back to its “strong modernist bones” before being re-crafted into a series of light-filled, flexible and enjoyable spaces.
“This project adds immensely to the built quality of Hamilton’s CBD,” Steven said.
Edwards White also received this year’s sole interior award for the IT Partners Office Fitout in Hamilton, and a housing award for The Splay House, in which “simple sculptural forms radiate around a generous central living court, creating intimate connections between all spaces.”
Cubro, a medical equipment supplier in Tauranga designed by Wingate Architects, was the second commercial award winner. “This building is a flagship for client, contractor and architect collaboration. It will age gracefully on its prominent site,” Steven said.
Ignite Architects’ extension and refurbishment of the Papamoa Plaza shopping centre in Mount Maunganui won a hospitality and retail award. Steven says one key to the project’s success is the strategic repositioning of the foodcourt from the interior to the “light-filled, glazed public edge” – a move that “bridged the divide between community space and typical faceless suburban mall”.
Another hospitality and retail award winner was The Kinloch Club at Kinloch, on the shore of Lake Taupō, designed by Patterson Associates.
“This building reflects the design team’s commitment to creating environments that are dramatic yet comfortable, lavish yet not ostentatious, and that yield spaces with a human quality and sense of welcome,” says Steven.
One public architecture award was conferred this year, upon a new congregational space connected to St John’s Church in Hamilton East. The space, designed by MOAA Architects, “is a delightfully unexpected addition,” says Steven.
Seven new houses and an alteration project continue the rich tradition of innovation in Waikato and Bay of Plenty domestic architecture. The winners include a small town house arranged around a courtyard – a stylistic departure for homes in Cambridge – by Christopher Beer Architect.
“Tight budget constraints have driven innovative craftsmanship enhanced by simple material,” Steven said.
The prefabricated Farquhar House in Whangapoua, designed by Alignworks, “redefines how ‘bespoke’ and ‘prefab’ can co-exist within residential design”, while with the Andrews Family Home in suburban Taupō, Bull O’Sullivan Architecture “pulls a complex fly roof over a simply expressed plan arrangement and revels in the resulting spatial complexity.”
NZIA Enduring Architecture Awards are conferred on projects more than 25 years old that have withstood the test of time. This year two “incredibly inspiring” houses received the award.
“The two houses couldn’t contrast more,” says Steven. “The Miller House by Rod Smith has been immaculately restored in a way that pays the utmost respect to the original architect’s ideals and the Karewa Parade House by David Page, ageing gracefully, is almost untouched since its construction.”
“The longevity of these houses, which were commissioned more than 40 years ago, confirmed to us that good architecture can always remain current,” Steven said.
The Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards
Part of the New Zealand Architecture Awards programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects,which has been sponsored by Resene since 1991.
Winning projects are eligible for shortlisting in the New Zealand Architecture Awards, which will be announced in November.