Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Kiwi designs on global shortlist

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology's arts and media building was devised by Nelson's Irving Smith Jack Architects. Photo / Supplied
Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology's arts and media building was devised by Nelson's Irving Smith Jack Architects. Photo / Supplied

Three New Zealand buildings have been shortlisted for a global architecture competition judged in November in Barcelona.

The new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology arts and media building in Nelson and a Grey Lynn house are up for World Architecture Festival prizes.

The Waitomo building was designed by Wellington's Architecture Workshop whose founding principal Chris Kelly said the competition was a "sudden-death" format.

"You have 15 minutes to convince a jury that your building deserves to be a winner. But making it on to the shortlist is a great affirmation for any architect," Kelly said.

Jeremy Smith of Nelson practice Irving Smith Jack Architects said interest in multi-storey timber buildings was growing after the Christchurch earthquake.

The Nelson building made the finals for being a structure pioneering large-scale timber structural technology.

Richard Naish, of Auckland's RTA Studio, which designed the Grey Lynn family house, said this was his firm's third appearance at the festival. RTA was shortlisted in 2009 for its distinctive tiered office/retail block Ironbank on Karangahape Rd which won a highly commended award.

A spokesman for the NZ Institute of Architects said the three firms would take their place alongside internationally celebrated architects like Sir Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

The Waitomo visitor centre won the institute's top prize, its medal, during the winter and the judges said the unusual transparent building was outstanding.

"Imaginatively conceived and masterfully executed, the centre confidently demonstrates that in New Zealand, a building in a landscape can be an attraction in its own right.

"The commercial programme has been accommodated in a transcendent structure, poetic in its form and protean in its readings.

"An inspired design has been translated into an inspirational building," the judges said.

- NZ Herald

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