A house built at Whangarei Heads has won a major national architectural award.

Castle Rock House, built at Whangarei Heads by Herbst Architects, won the housing category at the New Zealand Architecture Awards 2015 at the weekend.

The jury said Castle Rock House is sited beautifully above a beach and below a mountain, and next to a mature pohutukawa.

"In this project, the bach type has been pulled apart and expertly reconstructed as a summer encampment, that most historically resonant form on New Zealand's north-eastern coast."

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Twenty-eight projects, ranging from a combined train station and tertiary institution in south Auckland to a showroom in Shanghai, and from a radiotherapy unit in Tauranga to an apartment building on the Wellington waterfront, won awards in the country's premier architectural competition.

The winners in the long-running awards programme, which is run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, were announced in an event at Auckland museum on Friday.

The top award, the 2015 New Zealand Architecture Medal, went to the new Blyth Performing Arts Centre at Iona College, Havelock North, designed by Stevens Lawson Architects. The same practice won a New Zealand Architecture Award for another building at the same school - the Iona College Information Resource Centre.

This year's New Zealand Architecture Awards saw the introduction of three best-of-category awards named for eminent New Zealand architects: 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, designed by Bull O'Sullivan Architecture; and the Sir Miles Warren Award for commercial architecture, won by the Stranges and Glendenning Hill Building Replacement, designed by Sheppard & Rout Architects.