Designs for new Auckland houses which won awards last night stepped away from brutal modernism towards a more personal style.

"The one-room glass box with kitchen, living and dining altogether has been around for a while and some architects are now exploring other ideas," said Institute of Architects judging convener Craig Moller.

He was head of a panel of professionals which made 40 awards to 95 buildings entered from the Auckland area. Many of the winners will now be entered in the national architecture awards to be judged early next year.

Sports venues, university buildings, community centres, the new Northland prison and 18 houses took honours from the institute.

Mr Moller said outstanding houses fell into two categories: the modern minimalist open plan glass box and a more intimate, tailored response to a client's demands for housing which provided extensive storage and display areas for treasures.

New baches are just as upmarket as their city counterparts, the judges found, noting a shift away from the traditional bach to a holiday house with all the amenities of a city house, although one award-winner stuck to its guns as a true get-away destination.

A sub-tropical-styled Omaha holiday house by Aimer Naismith Architecture beat others for its well-thought out response to its coastal environment.

"Both the conceptual layout of the house and the detailed resolution demonstrate a clear architectural understanding of the contemporary holiday house and the difference between urban living and life at the beach," the judges said. "The careful and appropriate selection of materials reinforces the concept of a beach house."

A Dairy Flat house by Andrew Lister Architect took the Palm Springs style and merged it with the local area to create a hilltop house sporting large windows which the judges called "a serene living experience". The house respected an adjoining garage and studio designed by another architect, without "slavishly mimicking the existing".

The refurbishment of Queen St offices for wealthy businessman Noel Robinson atop the Q & V Building scooped a prize for Jasmax.

Split-levels, selection of neutral materials, execution of details and the relaxed atmosphere achieved impressed the panel, which said the space was an under-utilised roof-top location which had been rebuilt to the highest standards.

Stratis, the five-level luxury Viaduct Basin apartment block on Lighter Quay, won for offering an alternative to standard apartment typology. The judges commended developer Nigel McKenna for creating a loch alongside Stratis, which was designed by Architects Patterson.

AUT's business school by Jasmax won for bold use of materials. The school picked up on themes developed by Jasmax on other AUT sites.