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Wilson School
 
Wilson Chapel

NZIA Resene Awards for Architecture 2009


Auckland school for children with disabilities wins New Zealand Architecture Medal.

The Wilson School in Takapuna has been named the inaugural winner of the New Zealand Architecture Medal, the country’s highest architecture accolade for a building.

The New Zealand Architecture Medal is presented by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), and only one medal is awarded each year.

Designed by Opus Architecture, the school supports children with a wide range of special needs, and was hailed by judges as "uplifting".

The school is part of the Wilson Home Trust complex, which leases the site to the Ministry of Education. The Wilson Chapel, by architects Haughey & Fox and Partners, is also on the grounds and was named the winner of the national Enduring Architecture Award for a building whose design has stood the test of time.

Gerald Parsonson, of Parsonson Architects, convenor of the awards jury, said: "It is an incredibly thoughtful building that is very uplifting for the staff and children. It is set in park-like grounds and relates to its environment beautifully, bringing light into the building and allowing views to the outside."

"It uses is a soft palette of materials that gives it a calm almost Scandinavian feel. There is a great sense of comfort and professionalism and it is a building where you feel very safe and at ease.”

The school has around 60 pupils and has been designed to ensure access for those with physical disabilities. It is spacious with wide corridors and has special storage areas for pupils' equipment.

"It is New Zealand’s first purpose built special needs building and the architects have demonstrated an unwavering focus on the well being of the pupils and the staff. A wonderful spirit of collaboration between client and architect has produced an extraordinary building where the children get a great deal of benefit from being in such a nurturing environment.”

The Wilson school looks out on the chapel, which received the Enduring Architecture Award.

“It is a humble and simple building. There is a really interesting juxtaposition of geometric forms that create a real variance of experience as you walk around and through the building,” said Mr Parsonson.

Built in 1965 in the wooded grounds of the Wilson Home for children with disabilities, it remains a popular venue for weddings.

The New Zealand Architecture Awards, supported by Resene, were established by the NZIA to celebrate the innovation, creativity and excellence of projects nationwide.

The programme has three tiers, progressing from local regional awards to the New Zealand Architecture Awards and through to the ultimate accolade, the New Zealand Architecture Medal.

Judges evaluated entries against criteria including the relationship of a building to its site and context, design quality, building form, structure and spatial qualities. User satisfaction and environmental aspects were also taken into account.

The main consideration for the judges in assessing projects is how well a project resolves key design issues and then builds on this solution to "contribute to the advancement of architecture”.

The Wilson School at Takapuna by Opus Architecture was previously among winners in Public Architecture in the New Zealand Architecture Awards and was also a winner in the Regional Awards for Auckland.

Hyde Park Corner memorial among outstanding projects honoured in NZIA 2009 New Zealand Architecture Awards
London’s New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner is among outstanding projects recognised in the New Zealand Institute of Architects 2009 New Zealand Architecture Awards.

Seventeen other projects are also honoured in the country’s premier competition for design and architecture. A maximum of three New Zealand Architecture Awards can be presented across 10 categories.

They range from Wellington’s groundbreaking sustainable Meridian Building to a school for children with disabilities, an Auckland streetscape, Queenstown mountain retreat and a Christchurch pumpstation.

Auckland had the largest number of winning projects with eight awards and Athfield Architects Ltd was the stand-out practice with wins in five categories.

Gerald Parsonson, of Parsonson Architects, convenor of the awards jury, said the national judging process had sparked positive discussion about the importance of architects in urban design.

“As part of the process we met with some senior council managers,” he said. "There was a lot of discussion about how we can energise cities and towns.

“Many European councils employ architects to work extensively in this area. This is something we would like to see more widely in New Zealand as many cities and towns face the question of how they can create and sustain really effective working communities.”

The winning projects were considered for the New Zealand Architecture Medal, announced in May. Only one Medal may be awarded each year.

The New Zealand Memorial, a winner in the International Architecture category, was designed by a team from Athfield Architects Ltd in association with Dibble Art Company (sculptor) of Palmerston North.

It marks the enduring bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom and our shared sacrifice during times of war. It consists of 16 cross shaped vertical bronze standards set in formation on a grassy slope.

“The New Zealand Memorial is an urban design project that makes a statement in a sculptural and poetic way,” said Mr Parsonson. "The slanted cruciform stakes set in a grid pattern conjure up many images.”

The Meridian Building, by Wellington’s Studio Pacific Architecture in association with Peddle Thorp Architects and the new Selwyn District Council Buildings by Athfield Architects, were winners in Sustainable Architecture.

The Selwyn District Council Buildings was also a winner in the Public Architecture category along with Wilson School at Takapuna, by Opus Architecture, and Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell & Stout Architects Ltd.

Residential Architecture awards went to a Queenstown mountain retreat by Fearon Hay Architects Ltd, the Cameron Farmer House in Freemans Bay, Auckland, by Gerrad Hall Architects and a home in Leigh, Auckland by Tennent + Brown Architects.

The Thackeray Street Apartments in Hamilton by Mercer & Mercer Architects Ltd was a winner in Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing, and the Auckland City CBD Streetscapes - Queen Street project, by Architectus Auckland, triumphed in Urban Design.

The RCP Building in Parnell, Auckland by RTA Studio, and a house and office in Leek Street, Auckland, by Simon Twose Architect Limited, took Commercial Architecture Awards.

The restoration, conservation and interpretative installation project at the Colin McCahon Cottage at Titirangi, by Pearson & Associates Architects with Graeme Burgess in association, and the restoration of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Auckland, by Warren and Mahoney were winners in the Heritage section.

The University of Otago School of Medicine and Health Science in Wellington, by Athfield Architects Ltd, carried off the honours in Interior Architecture.

The Pumpstation 11 pumping station in Christchurch, by City Solutions, and the Len Lye Water Whirler Pier in Wellington, by Athfield Architects Ltd, were both winners in Small Project Architecture.

Judges evaluated entries against criteria including the relationship of a building to its site and context, design quality, building form, structure and spatial qualities. User satisfaction and environmental aspects were also taken into account.

The main consideration for the judges in assessing projects is how well a project resolves key design issues and then builds on this solution to "contribute to the advancement of architecture”.

The New Zealand Architecture Awards were established by the NZIA to celebrate the innovation, creativity and excellence of projects nationwide.

NZIA 2009 New Zealand Architecture Awards

New Zealand Architecture Medal

Opus Architecture - The Wilson School, Takapuna, Auckland

Wilson School

Wilson School

Enduring Architecture

Haughey & Fox and Partners - The Wilson Chapel, Takapuna, Auckland

Wilson Chapel

Commercial Architecture

RTA Studio - RCP Building, Parnell, Auckland
Simon Twose Architect Limited - House and Office, Leek St, Auckland

Heritage

Pearson & Associates Architects Ltd with Graeme Burgess in association - Colin McCahon Cottage, West Auckland
Warren and Mahoney - St Patrick’s Cathedral, Auckland

Interior Architecture

Athfield Architects Ltd - University of Otago School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Wellington

International Architecture

Athfield Architects Ltd in association with Dibble Art Company (sculptor) - the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, London

Public Architecture

Opus Architecture - Wilson School, Takapuna
Mitchell & Stout Architects Ltd - Tauranga Art Gallery
Athfield Architects Ltd - Selwyn District Council Buildings, Canterbury

Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing

Mercer & Mercer Architects Ltd - Thackeray Street Apartments, Hamilton

Residential Architecture - Houses

Fearon Hay Architects Ltd – Mountain Retreat, Queenstown
Gerrad Hall Architects – Cameron/Farmer House, Auckland
Tennent + Brown Architects – Leigh House, Leigh

Small Project Architecture

City Solutions – Pumpstation 11, Christchurch
Athfield Architects Ltd – Len Lye Water Whirler Pier, Wellington

Sustainable Architecture

Studio Pacific Architecture in association with Peddle Thorp Architects - Meridian Building, Jervois Quay, Wellington
Athfield Architects Ltd - Selwyn District Council Buildings, Canterbury

Urban Design

Architectus Auckland - Auckland City CBD Streetscapes - Queen Street, Auckland

View NZIA Resene Awards for Architecture:

2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001

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