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Timber Design Awards

Royal Society of New Zealand

Originally, the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 40 staff were dispersed between three old residential-style cottages and a 1970’s concrete block building.

To bring staff together, the original two-storey ‘white box’ concrete block was refurbished and a new third level added on. Perpendicular to this, a new annex building or ‘black timber box’ has been constructed at the front of the site.

This project was set by the clear brief for a building that is bold and reflective of the Society’s ethos, with a striking street presence. The building’s stripped back aesthetic plays on a concept of a building’s skin having been carefully carved and sculptured to create deep, crisp window apertures and entry points.

The carefully articulated apertures in the timber walls create a play of natural light and shadowing from the surrounding landscape to layer across the raw and natural internal materials; textural New Zealand wool wall rugs and warm, rough-sawn timber walls and doors.

In contrast, the vertical black stained cedar cladding folds in from the exterior cladding to form internal timber wall linings. This horizontal and vertical folding of walls and space creates a rich and dynamic environment. The careful material selection of textural, tonal and contrasting finishes heightens the experience in a building that is bold and striking.


Delivered successfully within a tight budget, the design follows a ‘whole building’ environmental engineering approach, integrating architectural and structural elements, and using climate-responsive design to achieve a highly efficient green building.

Photos by Patrick Reynolds