Napier structural design firm Paris Magdalinos Architects was in the spotlight on Friday night in a celebration of unique architecture throughout Hawke's Bay and the East Coast.

The firm, started by the late Paris Magdalinos in 1971, took three honours at the Gisborne/Hawke's Bay Architecture Awards in Havelock North.

Despite the firm's multinational base of clients, all three awards were for projects in PMA's home town, including commercial architecture awards for the Napier's Port's new administration centre and the Hawke's Bay Business Hub in the former Big Save Furniture space in Ahuriri. The third award was in the education category, for work on EIT Campus amenities in Taradale.

Judges said the Napier Port assignment was a "deft response to site". Distinctive and rhythmical herringbone patterns and pronounced windows gave the building an identity and, viewed from a distance, the segmented vertical and horizontal elements look like stacked containers.


The Hawke's Bay Business Hub by PMA is now a "vibrant contemporary workspace that is sympathetic to the rich industrial tradition of Ahuriri Napier", the jury commented, while the EIT Campus Amenities, a multi-purpose facility centred on an impressive atrium, displayed "structural elements of concrete plinths and glulam 'branches' acknowledging well-established tree canopies in the building's courtyard".

The uniqueness wasn't confined to the firm's treble, on a night where 10 awards were presented in front of a crowd of about 60.

Particularly distinctive was a second education category award for Auckland firm RTA Studio's work on the new buildings for Wairoa Maori school Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa.

Having opened with a roll of about 10 in 1994, it reached its dream with the opening of the two open-plan classes in April last year, when the roll was 79.

Napier architect and awards jury convener John O'Bryan said it showed architecture's power to enhance learning.

Young people were drawn into the design process for a Maori immersion school interwoven with stories of culture and environment, helping, for example, to choose the building's primary colours, he said.

The judges commented: "This work is true architecture, interwoven with references to the past that will now inform the future, and with significant cultural and environmental elements that have been adapted into physical form with great finesse."

The Clifton Road Reserve toilets near Haumoana brought accolades for Napier designers Citrus Studio, in small project architecture, and two homes, in Havelock North and at Waimarama, also featured.