Award-winning architecture

At the 2017 New Zealand Architecture Awards, two Christchurch builds were standouts – the Christchurch Arts Centre Clock Tower and Great Hall by Warren and Mahoney Architects, and Chapel Street Centre by Dalman Architects. These two projects, whittled down from a range of regional winners, were the only two national award winners from Canterbury.

Run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects, with the support of Resene, the 2017 New Zealand Architecture Awards recognise the best work across all types of projects designed by New Zealand’s architects. The awards demonstrate the value of architects, and what can be achieved on any given budget. Buildings need not be humdrum, but can be works of art that are fit for the client’s purpose whilst benefiting the community.

Louise Wright, who led the awards jury said, “New Zealanders have increasingly high expectations of the buildings in which they live, work and study, and the cities they inhabit, and rightly so. The quality of the built environment makes a real difference to people’s lives, and it is up to architects, and everyone in the building industry, to make the most of every construction opportunity… Whether they are houses or offices or schools or churches, they are all making a real difference to the lives of the people who use them.”

Fifty-one buildings, in locations spanning the country from the Bay of Islands to Queenstown, were shortlisted in the 2017 New Zealand Architecture Awards.

The restored Christchurch Arts Centre Clock Tower and Great Hall was awarded a New Zealand Architecture Heritage Award, and described by the awards jury as follows:

“The complex, post-earthquake restoration and seismic strengthening of two components of a highly significant Christchurch complex of Victorian buildings has been achieved with exemplary care and respect for both the architectural legacy of Benjamin Mountfort and heritage conservation principles. Good decisions were made throughout this project, which called for painstaking attention to detail and the faithful replication of the existing building fabric. It was important for the city that the Arts Centre Clock Tower and Great Hall were brought back to life: the excellence of the buildings’ restoration matches their status in civic life and communal memory.”

Personally, I love the Great Hall. It is one of Christchurch’s great interior spaces, and with the Town Hall’s auditorium and the Provincial Council Chambers out of action (the latter mostly demolished), perhaps it is the best.

Christchurch’s second award-winning building was Chapel Street Centre in Harewood Road, which won a New Zealand Architecture Public Award. The awards jury said:

“This church does not just communicate its function, but also invites observation of the congregation at worship. The idea, successfully realised, was to replace a parish church damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes with a building that would be open, transparent and welcoming. The new church is nicely proportioned; the worship hall, with its ceiling that rises into a spire that serves as both light well and lantern, is naturally the star of the show, but ancillary spaces such as the foyer, music room, sports hall and kitchen have all received careful attention. The building has a relaxed generosity and pleasant manner: down to earth, but also light in spirit.”

While it is always gratifying to be recognised by our peers, winning awards isn’t the reason why architects do what they do. As architects, we are passionate about creating great buildings and spaces for our clients and community to enhance how we all live, work and play.

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