Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Top designs emerge in hard times

An office building of glass shards and a cave-like home are among winners at Auckland Architecture Awards

Karanga Plaza and Kiosk. Photo / Supplied
Karanga Plaza and Kiosk. Photo / Supplied

A building of shards of glass, a cave-like beach house and new constructions at Britomart are among award-winning Auckland buildings announced last night.

Despite tough economic times hurting architects, 28 projects were recognised in the 2012 Auckland Architecture Awards, which were announced at the Viaduct Events Centre.

Blair Farquhar, awards judges' convener, said Patterson Architects' new uber-eco Geyser office building in Parnell was outstanding, carrying visitors from its lava-red carpark up into shards of glass.

The distinctive white structure with a volcanic theme stood out as "an enigmatic aggregation of volumes that dissolve against the sky".

Among the successful residential projects, a dramatic Mt Eden house by Glamuzina Paterson Architects provoked controversy in the neighbourhood "with its unapologetic modernity" but the judges found it well proportioned and unconventional and it would soon seem more indigenous than its neighbours because its front elevation would recede into native planting.

The sculptural work of Stevens Lawson Architects was evident in two award-winning houses. The jury said the Headland House on Waiheke Island "challenged the principles of the vernacular bach", and the cave-like Waiake Beach House was an "atmospheric home" that "revealed the architects' mastery of current timber and concrete technologies".

Q Theatre by Cheshire Architects and Williams Ross Architects was praised as a harmonious insertion into a constrained, historic site.

Jasmax's Cloud on Queens Wharf earned praised for its fluid form and Karanga Plaza and Kiosk by Architectus at the Wynyard Quarter won for "democratic urban design conceived with public use and enjoyment in mind". Architectus also won for St Cuthbert's College's performing arts centre and St Peter's College's sports complex.

Jasmax's work on the University of Auckland Grafton Campus upgrade was described as "the architectural equivalent of open-heart surgery", successfully integrating 1970s brutalist buildings and unclogging the educational environment.

The university's school of music by Hill Manning Mitchell Architects won the enduring architecture award, a place "where caged birds sing, a light-filled haven for students and their teachers".

Mr Farquhar said several of the winning designs raised expectations for public architecture.

"You'd expect tougher times to affect the number of entries into these awards, and that's certainly the case with some types of architecture, such as commercial buildings. However, just as fine wine comes from scrappy soil, so good architecture emerges from challenging circumstances."

- NZ Herald

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