One of the more enjoyable nights of the year for us architects is the Awards night, held in Te Papa last night. I thought the awards jury did a really good job this year and picked a smaller, but tighter bunch of projects for awards. There was a few awards for teams at the top of their game, but it was lovely to see a few of the younger, smaller practices get recognised for their work too. I want to celebrate some of those small, housing projects today.
There’s a young practice called First Light Studio who won two awards – one for a distinctive, bold, wedge-shaped house in Martinborough (below) and the other for a smaller project in Seatoun (above) – both well-crafted and beautifully built homes. What was great about this was hearing the warm words of the client – and a happy client makes for a happy architect as well.
There was also a superbly-crafted addition to a home by Mary Daish Architects, which we were shown a few tantalising pictures of – she’s a very skilled and yet modest designer, and always manages to pull off some lovely work, but this one takes the cake. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but something here just feels so right.
Another truly delightful project by a more seasoned practitioner, Parsonson Architects, also gets my vote of admiration, particularly for the bookshelf wall – I’m a sucker for a good bookshelf – Gerald always seems to design spaces that feel so good: warm, comfortable, lovingly detailed. This one is an absolute peach, and I’d move in tomorrow if i could.
Also great to see was an award for Foundation Architects, who must be some of the nicest practitioners on the planet – and the images shown for their winning project show that their work is also sweet – crisp, yet highly thoughtful.
What all of these projects seem to show is a careful manipulation of space, often dealing with awkward changes of levels and making the house work even better as a result. Why people want flat floors and flat sections is totally beyond me – a sloping section is much more fun and a house that plays with space vertically is always more adventurous and enjoyable than one that just exists on one plane.
The last project here today is a house I’d heard of, but never seen inside before – the Uren house (by Reg Uren, for his brother Ron Uren), which received an Enduring Architecture Award. Well-loved classic design from the peak of the modernist era, and from a time when a shag carpet meant exactly that, the Uren house is evidently still going on strong. As Alistair Luke, the Wellington awards jury convenor said: “The genius of this enigmatic house matches the enigma of its architect. This is one of New Zealand’s finest modernist residential works, surpassing in composition and detail many that are better known.”