The best local architecture of 2020

A covid impacted NZIA awards season saw the local awards go virtual in 2020.

NZIA Local Architecture Awards honour the best new architecture in each of the NZIA's eight regional branches.

Fifteen projects have received awards in the 2020 Western Architecture Awards, a peer-reviewed programme run by Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA).

Of six BOON projects that were shortlisted for the awards, we were humbled to come away with four accolades.

Green School New Zealand was honoured in the Education Category – The judges said; An extremely tight programme drove an extraordinary collaborative effort between client, architect, structural engineer and the local construction industry. Necessity was the mother of invention: design decisions were guided by what the industry could deliver and building information modelling and off-site fabrication was used to maximise delivery times and minimise material wastage. The quality of the Green School’s architecture achieved in just under a year, with three ‘waka’ classrooms and surrounding landscaping established on site, is impressive. The distinctive tensile fabric learning vessels were inspired by eel nets and provide the school with a clearly identifiable brand. Inside, the use of timber, and palpable sense of craft, impart a soothing quality to the single learning space. It will be interesting to see how this school develops and how the ‘waka’ classrooms facilitate a brave new world of learning.

Papaioea Place Social Housing was honoured in the Housing – Multi unit category –  The judges said; This housing project achieves economic and environmentally sustainable objectives in tandem with a level of design that elevates Papaieoia Place well beyond other social housing in the region. The award recognises the commitment of the client, Palmerston North City Council, in bringing together the architects with a housing supply builder – a process more commonplace in larger cities and with larger budgets – that should be applauded as innovative. The result is modern housing that, while simple in form and layout, meets an extremely tight budget. Replacing homes for a community of residents already located on this site, the project delivers both collective and individual housing identity. A bold colour palette has been applied to differentiate each unit, and consideration has been given to unit orientation, separation, screening, and landscaping to provide spatial layering in the critical buffer zones between private and public areas.

New Plymouth Boy’s High School Wharenui was honoured in the Small Architecture category – The judges said; The success of this project lies in its connectivity. The architecture has been driven by the context, facilitating the school’s operation within a bi-cultural framework. Structural strengthening work has been designed and carried out in sympathy with the existing historic building, blending the European context of the building with a new focus on Māori culture. The building has a new life and purpose; it now functions as a flexible learning space to foster the learning of te reo Māori, allowing space for pōwhiri and performance. The re-purposing of this building brings a cultural narrative from the rear of the campus to the heart of the school.

Govett Quilliam Interior was honoured in the Interior Architecture category – The judges said; This innovative and forward-thinking fit-out challenges the norm for law practices. The layout provides a balance of open plan, breakout and task-specific work zones which enhances physical and visual connections throughout the space, resulting in a more cohesive place of work. Bold and beautiful elements are given space and celebrated amongst neutral surrounds. This fresh, contemporary fit-out also integrates with and enhances the base build design.

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Author: BOON