Whangārei’s iconic Hundertwasser Arts Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery has received recognition at Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Auckland Architecture Awards.
The building was a winner in the ‘Public Architecture’ category.
The 57 winners, spanning 12 categories, were recognised at an event held at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland last week.
The newly-built Whangārei Boys’ High School was commended in the ‘Education’ category and the Whangārei Māori Land Court in the ‘Interior Architecture’ category. Also recognised was Camera Obscura – Timatatanga Hou in the ‘Small Project Architecture’ category.
“The calibre of the work this year was very high and many of the projects were designed and delivered through the Covid period,” jury convener Patrick Sloan said.
“These projects stand as a testament to the determination and commitment of the architects, their clients, the consultants, and the contractors in bringing these buildings to life.”
“We are delighted [the Hundertwasser Centre] has won an award for public architecture,” director of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre Joost de Bruin said.
“[Friedensreich] Hundertwasser wasn’t always appreciated by architects, because he would argue against what architects are doing.
“If Hundertwasser hated one thing, it was the straight line.”
However, she said this made it “extra special” that we have now won this award.
The award is expected to further boost the reputation of the Hundertwasser Centre and attract new people who were unaware of it, he said.
“This is the idea behind this building that it would attract people to the city and region because it is so special.”
There are only 40 Hundertwasser buildings in the world. Two of these are in Northland, including the infamous Kawakawa toilets.
A third one is currently being built in the Bay of Islands at Hundertwasser’s former residence. It is expected to open later this year.
The Local Architecture Awards honour the best new architecture in each of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) eight regional branches.
“This type of recognition by the NZIA is very hard to achieve so for all the contributors (especially those who contributed so much time and effort on a voluntary basis) to the building process we are delighted that the building has been recognised in this way,” principal architect Grant Harris HB Architecture in Whangārei said.
HB Architecture, Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation and Springmann Architektur were the architects recognised at the awards.
It was Hundertwasser himself who sketched the initial building design in 1993, which was then the “First Idea for the Museum Gallery Whangārei”.
Those sketches were further developed when the Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation commissioned Springmann Architektur in 2008.
HB Architecture was appointed as the New Zealand architect for the adaption of Springmann’s design.
de Bruin said Harris has done something really special which was in line with Hundertwassers’ philosophy.
As winners at the local branch level, the four Whangārei buildings can get shortlisted for the New Zealand Architecture Awards, which get appraised by a national awards jury.