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Auckland’s best new buildings

Article by Paperboy

The 2017 Auckland Architecture Awards have named the city’s best new buildings. From community centres to glittering theatres we check out all the winners


Auckland’s best new buildings

The New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) recently announced its Auckland Architecture Awards, in categories including Commercial, Education, Heritage, Public Architecture and Multi-Unit Housing. When you think of all the ways architecture can be assailed during the development process – by budget cutters, small-minded clients, building costs, ungenerous neighbours, and more – it’s a miracle these buildings exist at all. And while it would be great if every new building was worthy of an architecture award, the winners here make it clear there are first-rate buildings going up all over the city. When you think that most of these structures didn’t even exist a few years ago, you realise that, in very important ways, the city is getting better, piece by well-designed piece.



ASB Waterfront Theatre

Wynyard Quarter / Designed by Moller Architects and BVN in association
A brand new theatre? In a prominent waterfront location? If you’d discussed the possibility of the ASB Waterfront Theatre a decade ago, most people would have thought you were delusional. And yet, here in Wynyard Quarter is the Auckland Theatre Company’s long-awaited (and triumphant) new home.

Praised by the NZIA judges for its deft use of the style of its all-business neighbours (such as the ASB headquarters next door) and for its lively engagement with the street, the theatre brings after-hours life to the district by placing culture at its heart. Designed with typical clarity by Gordon Moller, who also gave Auckland the Sky Tower and the Viaduct Events Centre, we think this building might be his best contribution to the city yet. Oh, and we like the LED artwork by prominent American artist Leo Villareal very much, too.


Manukau Precinct Project

Manukau / Designed by Architectus and Rewi Thompson in association
This isn’t a new building, but a reorganisation of an award-winning structure originally designed by Noel Lane and Architectus. In this refurbishment, the main entry has been repositioned and security layers simplified to create the tranquil courtyard shown in this photograph, while new courts have been added and praised for their thoughtful separation of the judiciary members’ circulation with a ribbon of glass blocks. This was one of the last projects of the late Rewi Thompson, the great architect who died last October, aged only 62.


Lesieli Tonga Auditorium

Māngere / Designed by Bull O’Sullivan Architecture
A vast community space in Māngere provides a gathering point for Tongans in New Zealand and abroad by acting in a way the main house of a village back in the islands might, hosting events from formal to casual.

The building is a robust and economical industrial-style structure, built largely with volunteer labour, yet it also includes a delicate, highly decorative ceiling based on Pacific flower motifs and painted in the soft blue of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.


Bishop Selwyn Chapel

Parnell / Designed by Fearon Hay Architects
A glass chapel with a delicately curved ceiling clad in gold leaf, the Bishop Selwyn Chapel marks the long-awaited completion of Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral. Fearon Hay have given this institution an ethereal building that defers to its eclectic neighbours and yet strongly holds its own.


Te Oro

Glen Innes / Designed by Archimedia
Of course great architecture shouldn’t be restricted to the central city: this Glen Innes community centre is an excellent case in point. This bold, multi-purpose community space was the result of a high level of engagement with the local community, which (no surprises here) resulted in its enthusiastic adoption by the locals after its opening.


St Peter’s College Outhwaite Building

Grafton / Designed by Architectus
This new school building frames the edge of one of the college’s sports fields, while also providing a seamless extension to an earlier Architectus building.


AUT Mana Hauora Building

Manukau / Designed by Jasmax
With a dramatic pleated red facade, the heart of AUT’s new Manukau campus boasts a flexible, innovative layout that the NZIA judges praised for its creation of a “serious but relaxed” learning environment.


Te Oro

Verto Apartments

Mount Wellington / Designed by Warren & Mahoney
We need so much more of this: well-designed apartments designed not for flashiness, but affordability. Warren & Mahoney’s efforts in the Stonefields precinct feature plenty of natural light in each apartment, smart shared spaces outside them, and show how higher-density living options can be affordable and appealing (and not ruin the lives of those in lower-density houses nearby, as some Aucklanders seem to fear).


Kāinga Tuatahi

Ōrākei / Designed by Stevens Lawson Architects
Designed for members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on the hapū’s land near Bastion Point, these economical blocks of townhouses are built for a variety of family sizes (including extended families) around a central garden area, offering affordable medium-density housing in an example the rest of Auckland could and should learn from, and soon.


55 Symonds Street

Central city / Designed by Ashton Mitchell
Student accommodation in the centre of town was never going to be lavish, but this prominent building by Ashton Mitchell doesn’t let the requisite economy seem cheap or oppressive. The building was praised by the NZIA judges for its bold structural exoskeleton, as well as the way it offers social spaces and views through the building at ground level.



Mason Brothers

Wynyard Quarter / Designed by Warren & Mahoney
This adaptation of an old industrial building is a model mix of old and new, featuring a floating gold-glass box over a publicly accessible internal street, and providing a sense of engagement and activity inside as well as in the laneway outside the building. It’s a marvellous thing that Wynyard Quarter won’t be made up solely of new buildings, but that its older building stock is being used intelligently too.


Pollen Street Office

Ponsonby / Designed by RTA Studio
This building, which houses RTA Studio’s own office atop retail space, is a black sibling to the white buildings RTA also designed on the other side of the block (the white buildings face onto Mackelvie Street). The buildings collectively won an award for Planning and Urban Design for their activation not only of the street frontage, but for bringing new life to the spaces between the buildings as well. The judges praised the black building for emulating the retail scale of the surrounding buildings, and for providing a strong edge to this revitalised city block.


Kauri Timber Building

Central city / Designed by Fearon Hay Architects
This brand-new insertion on Fanshawe Street has a delicate veil and a modesty that politely defers to its historic neighbour. It also provides a note of surprising liveliness in a street dominated by cars – and a welcome invitation, in the older building, for pedestrians to take a second look.


Quad 7

Auckland Airport / Designed by Warren & Mahoney
Auckland Airport’s rapidly growing commercial precinct might have started out with a bit of big-box banality, but things are looking up with this sleek addition, a black glazed box that appears to float elegantly above its surrounds.


SGA Workshop and Offices

Morningside / Designed by Strachan Group Architects
A dreamspace is realised for this architecture firm, with offices above a workshop in which they can actually experiment with building things. The balcony faces the street and is a gesture of openness to the suburb around it.



Australis Nathan

Britomart / Designed by Peddle Thorp
You have to look closely to see it in this photograph, but the New Zealand Institute of Architects judges praised the use of sgraffito – decorative incisions into the exterior plaster – as a contemporary acknowledgment of this building’s heritage values. They also liked the re-orientation of the building (now home to Tiffany & Co.), with its new entrance facing onto bustling Takutai Square.

This article was first published in Paperboy magazine and originally appeared on

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