Australian firm BVN Donovan Hill has won the New Zealand Architecture Medal — the highest architectural honour in the country by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA).

The firm, in association with New Zealand architects Jasmax, received the prize for their redevelopment of Auckland’s ASB North Wharf, which also took prizes in the Commercial, Sustainable and Interior Architecture categories at the NZIA award ceremony in Auckland.

“It is a totally integrated project – an architectural realisation of a workplace philosophy, an exemplar of environmentally sustainable design and a contextually aware presence in a new maritime precinct. The building marries technical achievement and poetic expression, spatial organisation and social purpose,” said the jury.

The ASB North Wharf is a seven-storey office block for ASB Bank that consists of two buildings joined by a glazed multi-level walkway over a central public lane.

BVN Donovan highlighted the innovative cross ventilation feature in the building’s atrium as a major design feature of the build.

“The atrium functions as the building’s ‘lungs’—cross ventilation is achieved by fresh air from the open windows in the façade being drawn up into the top of the building through a unique funnel,” they said.

The funnel and a light reflector on the building’s roof also capture and reflect natural light deep into the building.

The news follows recent reports that BVN Donovan Hill has released ‘Transformative: the architecture of work culture,’ which details innovations in workplace design.

Indeed, the jury noted the ASB North Wharf project as radical disruption of traditional workplace design:

“The product of considerable research and the realisation of a radical workplace and behavioural strategy, ASB North Wharf is creatively disruptive of the traditional office environment, let alone the familiar bank building. The architecture promotes interaction, and allows for individual discretion.”

Image courtesy BVN Donovan Hill.

BVN Donovan Hill said that the fit out considered the building in the surrounding environment, and they settled on a design that encouraged communal interaction between public and private sectors.

“Designed from the inside out, the workplace fit out is based on a village concept with themed ‘neighbourhoods’ and a range of communal spaces. These provide a choice of work settings and inspire a sense of identity, community and transparency in line with the work aspirations of ASB.”

It was a very successful evening for both BVN and Jasmax with another of their collaborative works, the Regional Terminal in Christchurch Airport, also receiving a Commercial and Interior Architecture award.

The jury found that “the Regional Terminal at Christchurch Airports seems like a big, comfortable room”, compared to the usual box-like and corporate airport terminal environment. This interior, they noted, “is both innovative and self-consciously referential to the history of regional air terminals.”

Another Australian firm, Architectus, also had reason to celebrate with Patrick Clifford, their Auckland-based director taking out the NZIA Gold Medal.

The highest honour bestowed by the NZIA, the Gold Medal awards outstanding contribution to the practice of architecture, demonstrated through the production of a consistently high-quality body of work over a period of time.

Clifford was awarded by the jury for his exemplary realised projects as well as his high level of commitment to the development of New Zealand architecture.

“Patrick's career is characterised by his engagement with his colleagues, his profession, his city and his society. He has taught at the University of Auckland's School of Architecture, he has been a member of Auckland's Urban Design Panel, and he has served as President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects. He has been an Awards jury convenor and conference organiser and has given his time to numerous committees and causes,” said the NZIA.

The 2014 edition of the awards were announced on 9 May and recognised 15 projects in nine categories.

Visit the NZIA website for a full list of the award categories and winners. 

Images courtesy of BVN Donovan Hill.