Wellington Scoop

Best architecture – awards for 24 Wellington projects

News from NZ Institute of Architects
The best architecture in Wellington region for 2018 was announced at an event at the New Zealand Parliament Banquet Hall last night.

Twenty-four projects received awards at the 2018 Wellington Architecture Awards, which are part of the New Zealand Architecture Awards programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) and sponsored by Resene.

The peer-reviewed New Zealand Architecture Awards programme sets a benchmark for the country’s building projects and recognises the contribution of architects to their towns and communities.

This year, Wellington architect Sally Ogle led a four-strong Awards jury on a tour of 40 short-listed projects. Ms Ogle was joined on the jury by architects Julie Stout and Maurice Pipson, architecture graduate Pip Barr and Peter McGuinness of construction company L.T. McGuinness.

“The Award-winning buildings set a very high standard for architecture in the region,” Ms Ogle said. “Many are multi-layered projects which show an architect and client considering ways that buildings can benefit the context in which they are located.”

“The high standard of educational and commercial work was especially notable, as were the ways in which architects have considered wider urban connections, and how new centres of learning and large precincts can plug into the city.”

Education Awards

Four awards were conferred, with two going to new Victoria University buildings.


At the Victoria University Business School: Rutherford House Redevelopment, by Athfield Architects, situated on the University’s Pipitea campus, the jury was impressed by the way the lower two levels had extended the urban landscape from the Government precinct through to the Railway Station and harbour to provide “a fertile interface between town, gown and Crown”.


On the University’s Kelburn campus, Te Toki a Rata, a science building designed by Warren and Mahoney, provides a “legible new gateway”, the jury said. “The building unites this part of the university and forms a dark, reflective backdrop to the array of existing buildings on the opposite side of the courtyard.”


At Te Auaha, designed by foster+melville, a complex range of educational programmes – including hairdressing, make-up, film studios and creative writing – inspired the architects to create a “fun ‘factory-of-education’ feel” with “admirable openness and activity”, the jury said.

Architecture for younger students was also recognised in the Awards. Our Lady of Kāpiti School, designed by Studio of Pacific Architecture, is a new school that has “jumped the tracks to flat land”, the jury said. “It is a shining example of how architecture and architects can channel the energy of staff and students into an environment that encourages learning every day.”

Public Architecture Awards

Public Architecture awards are typically associated with large-scale civic buildings. This year two very different projects, both small in stature but large in community ambition, won awards.

He Tohu Document Room houses New Zealand’s important constitutional documents. Studio of Pacific Architecture designed the room around a theme of ‘He Whakapapa kōrero, he whenua kura: Talking about our past, to create a better future’.

The jury said the “immaculately resolved home for New Zealand’s most significant documents has an intimate and personal scale that lends gravitas to the experience and magnifies the emotional response of the visitor to the taonga exhibited within”.

Riddiford Pavilion, designed by Herriot Melhuish O’Neil Architects for a Lower Hutt site, comprises two fully accessible public toilets and a kiosk. The building lends “delight and dignity to the experience of undertaking an essential activity”, the jury said.

Commercial Architecture Awards

“A lively and energised new precinct” is the jury’s description of the Cuba Dixon Redevelopment. The long-term project for developer Willis Bond, designed by Athfield Architects, incorporates the seismic strengthening of a heritage façade at the bottom of Cuba Mall.

“By focusing on the connections to adjoining sites, and by creating new laneways to activate and funnel people through to those typically hidden back of house areas, the architects have laid the foundation for a lively and energised new precinct.”

At 22 Boulcott Street, a project by architecture+, a six-storey atrium was cut into an existing building’s floor plates. The move “strengthens the connections between people and their place of work, and makes it difficult to see where the base building stops and the fit-out project begins,” the jury said.

bbc architects received a Commercial Architecture Award for the Arise Centre. With its coloured glass cladding, the simple building form is an uplifting backdrop for a religious congregation to gather and “make some noise”, the jury said. The building’s interior has been “orchestrated so that performance and media convey the church’s message”.

Interior Architecture Awards

Herriot Melhuish O’Neil Architects’ second Wellington Architecture Award was for Creature Design, a “very well done fit-out for a Wellington advertising agency manages sleekness without excessive expense”.

At Singleton Dental, designed by Andrew Sexton Architecture, the use of “beautiful materials, well detailed throughout” has given a dental clinic a “warm and inviting feel that belies its medical utility.”

Jasmax’s work for Transpower – the tenant of 22 Boulcott Street (see above) – has helped the organisation transfer from a “hierarchical workplace into open-plan arrangement of flexible seating arrangements”, the jury said.

Housing Awards

Eleven housing awards were made this year, including two for alterations and additions and one for multi-unit housing.

“The projects we visited included housing in many forms, scales and settings – from highly urbanised to bush and beach contexts, and compact housing to multi-unit papakāinga,” Awards jury convenor Sally Ogle said. “In each case, the architecture has been finely tuned to the environment and to the occupants.”

Te Aro Pā Trust Papakāinga Housing, by Walker Architecture and Design, a winner in the multi-unit housing category, is “an interesting example of how affordable homes can be delivered for a small community,” the jury said.

Parsonson Architects received two housing awards this year. Korokoro Bush House, the jury said, is “generous in all the right places, snug where it matters, and exquisitely fine-tuned to the environment.”

Te Horo Bach is “a near-perfect retreat from the city” with the jury said, with colours and materials that beautifully connect it with the landscape”.

Lovell and O’Connell Architects was also a double winner in the Wellington Architecture Awards. The practice’s Holloway Road Alterations and Additions put a contemporary spin on some of the defining characteristics of the villa, the jury said. “Pared-back elegance is an apt description for this early 1900s house, which is now more than ready to take on the twenty-first century.”

Spitaki House, the jury said, might have a relatively small footprint but is “the perfect environment for the client’s rich brew of art, musical instruments”.

Wellington architects are often asked to find solutions to difficult weather and site conditions. Factors influencing the design of the Hillside House by Vorstermans Architects included a steep, small, south-facing section and a road hard up against the northern boundary.

Despite this, the jury said, “the architects have delivered a charming, 135-square-metre family home that is cleverly planned and thoughtfully detailed – an excellent example of affordable housing done well”.

In Miramar, the Courtyard House designed by Andrew Sexton Architects is “so well attuned to its place that seems as if it might have occupied it for many years”. The jury said the design “reveals an exceptional sensitivity to the lifestyles of the occupants and the vagaries of Wellington’s environment”.

a.k.a Architecture, in designing a ‘Shed’ and office for its own practice, faced the challenge of adding to and altering an existing home. “Every square inch of space available contributes to the greater good”, said the jury, which was intrigued by this “two-part project that balances lavishness with modesty, darkness and light, and verticality and horizontality in almost equal measure”.

The Wellington Architecture Awards catchment includes the Wairarapa and Kāpiti Coast.

Three houses from north of the city received awards, including Greytown Main House, designed by foster+melville architects, described by the jury as a “beautifully detailed house sits comfortably on its site and within its context thanks to the use of forms that reference rural buildings”.

The Wairarapa House designed by Custance Associates for an elevated site above the Ruamahanga River is an “appropriate response to the rural context”, the jury said. The interior features “discrete and understated” spaces. “It is a house for all seasons that has been built to last many lifetimes”.

At the Waikanae House, designed by First Light Studio, three gabled forms distinguish the spaces that allow a mother and daughter, along with a caregiver, to live independent but connected lives. The jury was impressed with the way the living spaces have made the most of sun and orientation to views, ideal for people who, through necessity, spend a lot of time inside.

Enduring Architecture Award


“Few buildings say ‘Wellington’ like Roger Walker’s Park Mews,” said the awards jury in conferring an Enduring Architecture Award on the Hataitai apartment building designed in 1973. Enduring awards are given to projects of more than 25 years of age that have withstood the tests of time, which, the jury said, is certainly true of Park Mews.

“The local landmark, with its signature turrets and portholes, is emblematic of a period of New Zealand architecture that shunned modernist norms in favour of a more radical approach.”

All Wellington architecture Award winning projects are eligible for shortlisting in the New Zealand Architecture Awards, which will be announced at a November event in Wellington.

Full list of award winners by category

Public Architecture
He Tohu Document Room – Studio of Pacific Architecture Limited
Riddiford Pavillion – Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects (HMOA)

Commercial Architecture
22 Boulcott Street – architecture+
Arise Centre – bbc architects
Cuba Dixon Redevelopment – Athfield Architects

Te Toki a Rata Building, Victoria University of Wellington –Warren & Mahoney Architects
Our Lady of Kāpiti School – Studio of Pacific Architecture
Te Auaha – foster+melville architects
Victoria Business School: Rutherford House Redevelopment – Athfield Architects

Enduring Architecture
Park Mews (1973) – Roger Walker

Greytown Main House – foster+melville architects
Hillside House – Vorstermans Architects
Korokoro Bush House – Parsonson Architects
Miramar House – Andrew Sexton Architecture
Waikanae House – First Light Studio
Te Horo Bach – Parsonson Architects
Spitaki House – Lovell and O’Connell Architects
Wairarapa House – Custance Associates

Housing – Alterations and Additions
Holloway Road Alterations and Additions – Lovell O’Connell Architects
‘Shed’ and a.k.a Office – a.k.a Architecture

Housing – Multi Unit
Te Aro Pā Trust Papakāinga Housing – Walker Architecture and Design

Interior Architecture
Creature Design Fitout – Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects (HMOA)
Singleton Dental – Andrew Sexton Architecture
Transpower – Jasmax