The Eyes of the Fish are everywhere, so we can report with a reasonable amount of accuracy that there have been some pretty fantastic wins from Wellington architects and engineers at the NZ Wood 2018 Timber Design Awards tonight (Thursday). Timber design in this country is clearly doing well, judging by the abundance of talent on show at the awards. There’s creative solutions, awards for excellence, lots of pinus radiata, some more dacrydium cupressinum, and just generally some damn fine architecture. So: who won what?
First up, the Mt Pleasant Community Centre won an award, for being a damn fine innovative piece of design. This building is a clever folded plane of LVL, that performs well and looks even nicer. I’ve loved this building, ever since I first read about it in Arch NZ magazine – its the sort of clever thing we need here in Wellington – but actually, it was at least designed here, by Wellingtonians including Alistair Cattanach, Patrick Arnold, Earl Rutherford and Chris Moller, amongst others. Yep, that bloke off the telly – he does more than just talk about other people’s houses – it seems that he actually walks the walk too. Great building, one of NZ’s most finest….
The next building I want to talk about is that wooden banana down on the waterfront at Kumutoto – I want to call it a shelter, but it doesn’t really shelter anything, so not sure what we call it. Damn gorgeous is what we can call it, a superb piece of design, from the team at Isthmus.
Its a deceptively simple design – cos it looks easy, with beautifully crafted pieces of cedar just hanging in mid-air. But watching it go up, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Nice work for a glorified sun-shade.
There was a whole heap more awards, including one highly commended award for this technically brilliant new timber walling system by a young student at Victoria Uni here in Wellington, Ged Finch, which has me totally intrigued. I want to see a whole building out of this – no nails, no screws, it just clips together and is completely reusable for like, about a zillion times. We need to be doing more of this.
Finch’s X-Frame system was beaten in that category though, by a stunning piece of architecture for the Tuhoe nation, up in the mists of Waikaremoana, designed by Hugh Tennent and Euan Brown up high in the Hope Gibbons building here in Wellington. These two architects are proving to have some serious design chops, and here they have been working with timber manufacturer Abbodo – I mean, just take a look at this facade – absolutely fantastic!
I haven’t been to Waikaremoana since forever – the John Scott building was NEW last time i was there… but maybe this summer its time for a road-trip to run down Memory Lane. Gorgeous building outside – I bet it is inside as well.
Lots more awards – but top mention obviously needs to go to the Supreme Award winner – which I picked as the top winner the minute I walked into it a year ago – He Tohu – the waka huia designed to cradle our nation’s three most valuable documents, at the National Library. It is not just a technically brilliant piece of design but is also just about the most sensuous design I’ve ever seen.
Honestly, I was almost in tears of joy and wonderment when I went there first – to me it is an almost religious experience. Maybe I’m getting soft, maybe it truly is spiritual, maybe it is because it speaks to me as an inhabitant of Aotearoa, a native child of our beautiful islands.
Nemo wrote about it a while back – here on the Eye of the Fish – I think he liked it too (where is he ? why does he not write for the Fish any more? please come back!) – click on that link to find his original article. The work was done mostly by young Studio Pacific architectural grad Whare Timu, sincerely talented and humble, with an absolute eye for a gorgeous design and an evident talent for timber. Along with architect Peter Mitchell and the rest of the team – from the structural and services engineers I know must have been there too – and of course really the award goes to the Contractor as well, because it must have taken the patience of a saint to build this project to such a fine degree of tolerance. Anyone want to post up details of the engineer and contractor? We’d love to find out more!
NZ Wood is doing such a great job with these timber design awards – Resene is in there too with sponsorship, so thank you so much Resene, and I’m not sure if the Awards are driving the designs, or the designs are driving the awards, but either way – its lovely to see. The Concrete design awards are closing soon as well I think – I’d love to see some great new concrete buildings as well, so keep an eye out. If you’re from Concrete NZ, send me a ticket and i’ll fly up to your award night too!