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Best buildings in Waikato/Bay of Plenty Architecture announced

28 April 2017

From Waiotahe to Whangapoua, compact housing to large commercial buildings, small budgets to big commissions, the winners of the 2017 Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards reveal a rich variety of site, scale and style.

Nineteen buildings won awards at the awards event held at Tauranga Art Gallery on Friday 28 April. 

Awards convenor and Hamilton-based architect Steven Chambers said the winning works in the peer-reviewed awards programme set a very high standard for architecture in the region. And, he said, despite the diversity of the 25 projects Chambers’ jury visited, there was one thing the award-winners had in common. 

“At each property we visited it was a delight to see the architects and their clients revelling in the fantastic environments they had created. It was a testimony to the positive relationships that were formed right at the very start of each project, when briefs were written and concepts were investigated.” 

“Good architecture, without a doubt, is the result of positive working relationships between those who commission a building and those who design it,” Chambers said. 

 Chambers said he particularly admired the dedication and creativity shown by architects working to limited budgets. 

“These projects showed that architects and clients were not going to allow budget constraints to compromise the architecture and the user experience, and as a result we saw the imaginative use of materials, clever arrangement of space and the provision of sympathetic work, study and living environments.” 

Chambers was joined on the jury by Nelson architect Andrew Irving, and experienced Waikato / Bay of Plenty architects Belinda Ellis and Jane Hill. 

Two very different education projects won awards this year. Tarawera High School, by RTA Studio, was designed according to the Ministry of Education’s new directives for Innovative Learning Environments.

undefinedTarawera High School by RTA Studio

“The school is an inspiring exemplar of architecture embedded in place and community,” Chambers said. “It exceeds the potential limitations of budget to deliver uplifting and authentic innovative learning environments.” 

While Tarawera High School is colourful and open, Chambers said The New Law & Management Building at the University of Waikato, designed by Opus Architecture, is a “powerful expression of solid mass and void”. The large-scale concrete building “asserts itself boldly on its corner site, communicating both permanence and quality.”

Hamilton architecture practice Edwards White received three awards this year, including a commercial award for the refurbished South Bloc Building in Hamilton. The building was taken back to its “strong modernist bones” before being re-crafted into a series of light-filled, flexible and enjoyable spaces.

“This project adds immensely to the built quality of Hamilton's CBD,” Chambers said.

Edwards White also received this year’s sole interior award for the IT Partners Office Fitout in Hamilton, and a housing award for The Splay House, in which “simple sculptural forms radiate around a generous central living court, creating intimate connections between all spaces.”

Cubro, a medical equipment supplier in Tauranga designed by Wingate Architects, was the second commercial award winner. “This building is a flagship for client, contractor and architect collaboration. It will age gracefully on its prominent site,” Chambers said.

At Kinloch, the small town on the shore of Lake Taupō, the investment in quality architecture continues with The Kinloch Club, designed by Patterson Associates, a hospitality and retail award winner.

“This building reflects the design team’s commitment to creating environments that are dramatic yet comfortable, lavish yet not ostentatious, and that yield spaces with a human quality and sense of welcome,” Chambers said.

Ignite Architects’ extension and refurbishment of the Papamoa Plaza shopping centre in Mount Maunganui also won a hospitality and retail award. Chambers said one key to the project’s success is the strategic repositioning of the foodcourt from the interior to the “light-filled, glazed public edge” – a move that “bridged the divide between community space and typical faceless suburban mall”. 

One public architecture award was conferred this year, upon a new congregational space connected to St John’s Church in Hamilton East. Chambers said the space, designed by MOAA Architects, “is a delightfully unexpected addition”.

Seven new houses and an alteration project continue the rich tradition of innovation in Waikato and Bay of Plenty domestic architecture. The winners include a small town house arranged around a courtyard – a stylistic departure for homes in Cambridge – by Christopher Beer Architect.

undefinedTown House by Christopher Beer Architect

“Tight budget constraints have driven innovative craftsmanship enhanced by simple material,” Chambers said.

The prefabricated Farquhar House in Whangapoua, designed by Alignworks, “redefines how ‘bespoke’ and ‘prefab’ can co-exist within residential design”, Chambers said, while with the Andrews Family Home in suburban Taupō, Bull O’Sullivan Architecture “pulls a complex ‘fly roof’ over a simply expressed plan arrangement and revels in the resulting spatial complexity.”

NZIA Enduring Architecture Awards are conferred on projects more than 25 years old that have withstood the test of time. This year two “incredibly inspiring” houses received the award.

“The two houses couldn’t contrast more,” Chambers said. “The Miller House by Rod Smith has been immaculately restored in a way that pays the utmost respect to the original architect’s ideals and the Karewa Parade House by David Page, aging gracefully, is almost untouched since its construction.”

“The longevity of these houses, which were commissioned more than 40 years ago, confirmed to us that good architecture can always remain current,” Chambers said.

The Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards are part of the New Zealand Architecture Awards programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects which has been sponsored by Resene since 1991. Through the awards, the NZIA aims to show why good architecture matters in the ongoing development of New Zealand’s cities, towns and communities.

Winning projects are eligible for shortlisting in the New Zealand Architecture Awards, which will be announced in November.


Full list of award winners by category

Commercial Architecture

South Bloc, Hamilton, by Edwards White Architects
Cubro, Tauranga, by Wingate Architects


Tarawera High School, Kawerau, by RTA Studio
New Law & Management Building, University of Waikato, Hamilton, by Opus Architecture

Enduring Architecture

Karewa Parade House, Papamoa, by David Page Architect (1972)
Miller House (1969), Hamilton, by Rod Smith Architect (Smith, Grant and Associates) 

Hospitality and Retail

The Kinloch Club by Patterson Associates
Papamoa Plaza, Mount Maunganui, by Ignite Architects


Town House, Cambridge by Christopher Beer Architect
Andrews Family Home, Taupō by Bull O'Sullivan Architecture
The Splay House, Hamilton by Edwards White Architects
Farquhar House, Whangapoua by Alignworks
Sentinel House, Coromandel by Crosson Architects
Paerata Ridge House, Waiotahe by Architecture Page Henderson
Pauanui Bach by Leuschke Kahn Architects

Housing and alterations

Architect’s Own, Hamilton by Architecture Bureau 

Interior Architecture

IT Partners Office Fitout, Hamilton by Edwards White Architects

Planning and Urban Design

Embassy Park, Hamilton by PAUA Architects 

Public Architecture

St Johns Church, Hamilton East by MOAA Architects