Blythe Performing Arts Centre

The NZ Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards winners for 2015 include numerous homes, educational and community buildings and some outstanding multi-residential work. However, the judges commented that the commercial buildings category was “not as keenly contested as might be expected”.

The awards were announced on 30 October, with 28 projects recognised.

The top award, the 2015 New Zealand Architecture Medal, went to the Blyth Performing Arts Centre at Iona College, Havelock North, designed by Stevens Lawson Architects. The project also took out a gong in the educational architecture category, as did the school’s Information Resource Centre, also designed by Stevens Lawson Architects.

The judges said the project was a “beautifully planned and executed building in which technical as well as architectural issues have been resolved masterfully”.

“On this project, client and architects reached for the sublime – and they got there.”

Three new best-of-category awards named after eminent NZ architects were introduced this year and all were won by Christchurch projects – the John Scott Award for public architecture, won by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre designed by Patterson Associates; the Sir Ian Athfield Award for housing, won by Lyttelton Studio Retreat by Bull O’Sullivan Architecture; and the Sir Miles Warren Award for commercial architecture, won by the Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building Replacement in Christchurch designed by Sheppard & Rout Architects.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre incorporates greenhouses, laboratories and public spaces in a manner the judges described as “an adroit and sympathetic piece of place-making” with an elegant form that is “an inspiring contribution to the public realm in Christchurch”.

The Lyttelton Studio Retreat was designed to be a Christchurch office and residence for Auckland practice Bull O’Sullivan. In addition to studio and office space, it has several bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living areas.

Lyttleton studio retreat

The designer Michael O’Sullivan is also a builder, and utilised a number of sustainability moves in the project including re-use of 100-year old Australian hardwood timbers that had comprised the Lyttelton Wharf before it was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake.

The project also utilises timber extensively throughout the interior, and has maximised the passive solar benefits of orientation and planning of windows, with double-glazing throughout.

“This building is a labour of love and a testament to the design capacity, bloody-minded commitment and appetite for sheer hard work of its architect,” the jury said.

The Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building Replacement, which received the Sir Miles Warren Award for commercial architecture, has redeveloped the site into a village-like precinct with commercial office space, retail and hospitality, including an interior courtyard that acts as a light well and activates the ground plane while providing an outdoor area buffered from traffic noise.

The second winner in the commercial architecture category was the Mackelvie Street Shopping Precinct in Ponsonby, Auckland, designed by RTA Studio.

“New laneways and a series of small courtyards open up the precinct to pedestrian passage and commercial use,” the jury said.

“This nicely scaled, well-proportioned and appropriately ornamental little retail complex is a charming addition to its character neighbourhood.”

MIT Manakau

Another winner in the education category that has extremely strong sustainability credentials is the MIT Manukau & Transport Interchange by Warren and Mahoney Architects.

“This impressive building significantly advances two important agendas – access to tertiary education and public transport in South Auckland,” the jury said.

“The architects did well in overcoming construction challenges and financial obstacles that could have derailed the whole project.”

A joint project by Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, the educational facility is situated above a railway station and adjacent to a major bus interchange. The ground plane and atrium is public space that connects all three elements.

Aurecon provided sustainability and engineering consulting for the project, which was designed to achieve a 5 Green Star Built rating.

In the multi-unit residential category there were two winners, Clyde Quay Wharf Apartment Redevelopment by Athfield Architects, and Marshall Court Apartments for Wellington City Council Housing by Designgroup Stapleton Elliot.

The jury described social housing as a “tough architectural genre”.

They said the design team and client “worked hard to produce safe and suitable pensioner housing, and in the face of the usual budgetary constrictions, they have succeeded admirably”.

Council has also been commended for its focus on ensuring its social housing is warm, dry and well-insulated.

The L-shaped apartment complex overlooks a north-facing communal garden, which replaces formerly underutilised car parking and gives the apartments a focus for social interaction. The individual one-bedroom apartments have a small footprint ameliorated by the provision of verandahs on the outside and sliding screens between the bedroom and living room. The building is also close to shops and public transport.

Other winners:

  • Education – Avondale College, multi-stage redevelopment of a large secondary school designed by Jasmax.
  • Public Architecture – Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, in Titirangi next to historic Lopdell House; designed by Mitchell & Stout Architects.
  • Public Architecture – Kathleen Kilgour Centre in Tauranga, designed by Wingate + Farquhar.
  • Heritage – Thames’ Treasury Research Centre & Archive by Architectus.
  • Hospitality and retail – Monica Loves in Napier, designed by C Nott Architects.
  • Housing – In-Situ House in Remuera – Stevens Lawson Architects; Boatsheds in Takapuna designed by SGA-Strachan Group Architects and Rachael Rush; Ostend Road Home on Waiheke Island by Bull O’Sullivan Architecture; the Red House in Titirangi, designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects (Auckland); and Castle Rock House at Whangarei Heads, designed by Herbst Architects.
  • Housing – alterations and additions: Sod the Villa by Malcolm Walker Architects; and Clevedon Estate by Herbst Architects.
  • Small Projects – Te Kaitaka  – The Cloak, is a low, mound-like building topped with tufts of grass in the Auckland Airport commercial precinct designed by Fearon Hay Architects. The second winner in this category was Brooklands Lagoon Public Toilet, designed by Opus Architecture.