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Timber Design Awards

Milse

This site was planned as a rubbish holding room for the precinct, scheduled for demolition in five years.  We set out to shape of this a space of cave-like intensity, leavened with the fragility of a filigree screen.

Most of our sweet tradition evolved out of ancient Arabia. The crystalline structure of sugars is here conflated with the patterned delicacy of timber ‘moucharaby’ panels: a conceit for creating a world of quiet delight within a chaotic left-over geometry surrounded by service lanes and delivery trucks.

The construction of Milse was as complex as it looks. No one we could find in Auckland had done this sort of work before. This necessitated the continual invention of fabrication solutions between architects and craftspeople. Timber – specifically a strong, beautifully-coloured and water-resistant Keruing ply – was the vital material that enabled us to reconcile a warmth and delicacy of surface with a flexibility and efficiency of fabrication. In this context, no other material offers such easy, self-finishing beauty.

The geometries of the surface mathematically programmed with bespoke parametric systems assembled in the Grasshopper plug-in to Rhino. This enabled a free geometry that could absorb the chaos of the site, and a variation of opacity via the relative dilation of its perforations. Our single timber element could now act as wall, shutter, ceiling and light fitting at once. This, coupled with the direct outputting of the panels from architect to cutting machine, helped shape this restaurant for the price of a gelato fridge.

Photos: Jeremy Toth