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The small and the soaring take national timber design awards

A tiny family bach at Otago’s Taieri River mouth and a stunning aquatic centre on Wellington’s Kapiti Coast are joint supreme winners of the 2014 NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards.

Category winners are Wellington’s Cable Car Terminus; public toilets in Eastbourne, Lower Hutt; Auckland’s Milse dessert restaurant; a native wood panelled home in Auckland’s Point Chevalier and the Bougainville Library, in Arawa, Bougainville.

The Taieri bach was designed by Regan Johnston of Mason & Wales, Dunedin. Just 55 square metres in area, it took only eight weeks to build.

It is a beautiful small house, made entirely appropriate for its use and setting in the landscape, using what are often perceived as low value materials in their raw form to provide a stunning harmony of simplicity and sophistication, said the judges.

In contrast the Coastlands Aquatic Centre has a soaring 2000 square metre double-curved transparent roof. Designed by Toby Mason while working for LHT Design of Hastings, it is supported by a dramatic grid of curved laminated timber beams. “This provides a light, warm and beautiful space for the pool,” said the judges.

“The building demonstrates that timber is not only an appropriate durable material for a humid pool environment, but that with good design it can provide light weight elegant structures. This is an outstanding example of contemporary timber technology.”

The awards, which have been running since 1975, were judged this year by Timber Design Society president Daniel Scheibmair; leading architect David Sheppard; and MBIE chief architect Duncan Joiner.

NZ Wood director Brian Stanley told the awards function in Wellington that the world is witnessing amazing developments in timber-based construction.

“In London and Melbourne cross-laminated timber buildings reach nine and 10 stories. Vancouver is considering a plan to go up to 30 stories while Stockholm is already streets ahead with a 34-story timber building already approved. Not to be outdone, the Americans are carrying out feasibility work on a 42-story tower.”

To support new thinking in wood, the NZWood Timber Smart series has for the last 12 months been touring the country highlighting how wood meets and surpasses the construction challenges of the 21st Century.

Mr Stanley said the Wood Council of New Zealand is asking the government to adopt a ‘wood-first’ policy. He describes this as an enlightened approach to encouraging wood use in public buildings already in place in countries as diverse as Japan, France and Canada.

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For more information:

Judging panel comments: Daniel Scheibmair, president, NZ Timber Design Society, Tel 027 713 7941

NZ Wood/NZ Wood Council comments: Brian Stanley, director, NZ Wood, Tel 027 436 3340

For print-resolution images of the entries (winners and finalists): Trevor Walton, Tel 021 381 465, twalton@wham.co.nz

18 March 2014