Whanganui architect Craig Dalgleish's design of a Dannevirke veterinary clinic has been recognised in the Western Architecture awards.

The awards were announced this month, with the judges saying the design was proof that excellent design can be created while working to a modest budget.

Mr Dalgleish, who heads Dalgleish Architects, told the Chronicle he had won similar awards before but this was especially rewarding given the brief and budget he had to work to.

The judges said veterinary buildings did not often figure highly in architecture awards but Vet Services Dannevirke bucked the trend.

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"The smartly articulated facade is eye catching without being flashy and is a triumph to the skill of the architect. The modest cost is proof that the best architecture is not necessarily that with the largest budget," they said.

Mr Dalgleish said the brief was complicated because it involved removing three old houses to create the building site.

"It needed to be a functional design because it's on the town's main street not far from the retail area and has a McDonald's, a service station and a hardware store nearby.

"The clients wanted the building to stand out but at the same time retain some modesty," the architect said.

"Veterinary clinics are much more complicated buildings these days and very much like a hospital. This one had to incorporate two operating theatres."

A key feature of the building is the unique folded soffit that Mr Dalgleish created by using 3D computer modelling.

"It was great fun designing it actually and the result is amazing. It still has a lot of people scratching their heads wondering how we achieved it."

Mr Dalgleish said smart design came at a cost and the challenge of this design brief was to keep within a pretty constrained budget.

"We did it because we had a local builder who was excited with the concept," he said.

Dalgleish Architects' success was one of three in the commercial section.

The others were the White Hart Hotel complex in New Plymouth and RNZAF Base Ohakea simulator training centre.

A diverse range of buildings - including a fort and pirate ship-influenced playground, a historic hotel and a theatre extension - were among the winners of the 2016 Western Architecture awards run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects.