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Architectural Quality Defies Economic Circumstances

November 12, 2012

Te Manga Maori Faculty Development by Paris Magdalinos Architects

The year’s top architectural projects on the east coast of the North Island were acknowledged in a function in Napier last night.

Five buildings, including a church in Gisborne, a new “gateway” structure on the campus of the Eastern Institute of Technology, a bach at Mangakuri and houses in Napier and Havelock North, received 2012 Gisborne / Hawkes Bay Architecture Awards.

The convenor of the Awards jury, Napier architect Kyla Wilson, said the comparatively low number of awards both signified the challenging economic environment and highlighted the quality of the winning buildings.

“It has been a tough year for many architects,” said Ms Wilson said, “and that is reflected in the amount of work the awards jury considered.”

“However, we were pleased to see that the standard of the award-winning buildings was impressive, and this promises well for the future. When the economy does pick up, the region will benefit from the skills of its architects.”

Ms Wilson said that although the award-winning projects weren’t numerous, they were certainly various and together provide an indication of the range of projects that architects undertake.

“For example, the three houses that won awards were very different. One is a modern   townhouse, another is a refurbished older house, and the third is a small beach house in the simple tradition of the New Zealand bach.”

The Awards jury praised the Havelock North Townhouse designed by Herriot + Melhuish Architecture as a “bold and formal” building that commands its corner site.

The design of the townhouse, the jury said, “responds cleverly to the brief by maximising the site while giving the occupants complete privacy from the nearby streets”.

In Napier the alterations to the Bull-McMurray House designed by Clarkson Architects won a Gisborne Hawkes Bay Architecture Award.

“The success of this project lies in the architect’s eloquent acknowledgement of the building’s history, thoughtful reconfiguration of the interior and complementary new work,” the Awards jury said.

The jury gave its third award in the housing category to a bach at Mangakuri on the Central Hawkes Bay coast, designed by Bevin + Slessor Architects.       

“This comfortable, functional and modest seaside bach opens unselfconsciously into the landscape,” the jury said. In designing a building that “addresses its context and respects the spirit of place” the architects have used “a simple and clear palette of materials that adds to the relaxed holiday feel”.

A dramatic building on the Taradale campus of the Eastern Institute of Technology was acknowledged for the manner in which it “sympathetically marries Maori culture and contemporary building techniques”.

The Te Manga Maori Faculty Redevelopment designed by Paris Magdalinos Architects is a “symbolic gateway” to the campus that, the jury said, “expresses the concepts of entrance and procession with conviction, strength and elegance”.

In Gisborne, Architects 44 have won an Award for the practice’s reworking and repair of the water-damaged St Mary Star of the Sea Church. “Sympathetic additions and alterations have enhanced the original architecture,” the jury said. The congregation now has “a fully functioning place of worship that is respectful of the traditions and modern liturgical requirements of the Catholic Church.”

The 2012 Gisborne / Hawkes Bay Architecture Awards were announced at an event at the Photographers Gallery in Napier. Joining Kyla Wilson on the Awards jury were Wellington architect Ashley Cox, Napier architect Gavin Cooper, and Napier photographer Jeff Brass.