A superloo with glass exterior walls was among 12 designs recognised last week as the winners of this year's New Zealand Architecture Awards from Nelson and Marlborough were announced.

Other designs to win accolades from the region were a winery and a library featuring an 'imaginarium', where users can listen to and record music.

Judging panel convenor, Blenheim architect Tim Barton, said competition in the region was strong, particularly in the residential category. Some of the houses were in remote locations, adding to the challenge for the judges.

"It would have taken so long to reach some of the properties by road that, in the end, we decided to take a boat instead and visited three that way in one morning," he said.

Designs recognised in the residential category included Lee House, which overlooks Abel Tasman Park. Jurors described it as a "slick integration of Asian and western culture".

They also had praise for Marlborough's Spring Creek House, which was described as "inviting and comfortable".

The Superloo toilet block at Waimea Intermediate School, designed by redbox architects, was a winner in the small project architecture category.

Featuring two brilliant yellow interior walls and a glass exterior on two sides, the handwashing area is visible from the outside of the building.

Jurors said the Superloo challenged conventional thinking about privacy while creating a "bright, colourful and safe environment".

The awards are open to all New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) practices, and projects can be entered into one or more of 10 categories - Public Architecture, Residential Architecture - Housing, Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing, Commercial Architecture, Urban Design, Interior Architecture, Heritage, Small Project Architecture, Sustainability, and Enduring Architecture.

There is no limit to the number of awards the local jury can make in any category.

Seven more regional awards ceremonies will be held over the next two months, with all regional winners becoming eligible for consideration at the New Zealand Architecture Awards, to be held in early 2011.

The highest accolade - the New Zealand Architecture Medal - will be awarded at the NZIA's annual gala dinner next May.