Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Bach and back street among top awards

Fearon Hay's work on the Imperial Buildings takes top prize at architecture awards

At Imperial Lane, Fearon Hay "revelled in the opportunity to show off the original materials". Photo / Patrick Reynolds
At Imperial Lane, Fearon Hay "revelled in the opportunity to show off the original materials". Photo / Patrick Reynolds

A firm of Auckland architects behind a building restoration which revitalised part of Queen St scooped the country's premier architectural award last night.

Fearon Hay, headed by Tim Hay and Jeff Fearon, won the NZ Institute of Architect's architecture medal for the Imperial Buildings near the foot of Queen St, a project the judges said had enlivened the wider area with through-site links and provided a home for restaurants and bars.

"The Imperial Buildings succeeds on as many levels as the complex structure seems to possess," they said, "a commercially driven scheme which enhances the civic realm, a hermetic world which provides a public path through a city block. The generous ramped walkway from a hitherto dingy lane serves as an internal plaza which offers - to pedestrians passing through and guests seated at tables - intimations of the labyrinthine spaces above."

Fearon Hay not only respected the structures' heritage fabric but revelled in the opportunity to show off the original materials and celebrate an historic structure, the judges said.

They said the architects also brought welcome light and air into the hospitality spaces. The architects also won a heritage prize.

Manning Mitchell won the enduring architecture award for the University of Auckland's School of Music, a 30-year-old building which the judges said continued to communicate a sense of delight.

Twenty-one awards were presented at the Viaduct Events Centre and the gold medal, the top individual honour, went to Auckland architect Pip Cheshire of Cheshire Architects.

A portable 40sq m Coromandel Hut on Sleds by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects was among the other winners. The wooden building was "bound to put a smile on the stoniest of faces", and had an exterior wheel allowing it to be closed to the elements.

The tiny Whangapoua bach was praised for being "whimsical in its verticality and Lillliputian in its spatial allocation", putting guests in holiday mode when they arrived. Wellington's Telecom Central building, with its distinctive angled glass facade, won a commercial prize for architecture+, along with Patterson Associate's Geyser in Parnell which also took a sustainability award, and Paul Rolfe Architects and Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects' Cloudy Bay shack looking out to the Richmond Ranges.

Christchurch's innovative Re:START container shopping precinct won the Buchan Group a planning and urban design award, along with Karanga Plaza and Kiosk by Patrick Clifford's Architectus in the Wynyard Quarter.

Public architecture awards went to Athfield Architects for Te Hononga the Christchurch Civic Building, Tennent + Brown Architects and SKM Architects for Kilbirnie's ASB Sports Centre, Pearson & Associates Architects' Rotoroa Shelter & Exhibition Centre on Rotoroa Island and Irving Smith Jack Architects for the Whakatane Library & Exhibition Centre.

- NZ Herald

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