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Timber Design Awards

Auckland Art Gallery

The new Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is characterised by a series of fine ‘tree-like’ canopies that define and cover the entry forecourt, atrium and gallery areas.

The ceilings of the canopies are assembled from carefully selected Kauri, profiled into precise geometric patterns and supported on slender and tapering shafts. They cover two thousand square metres.

Not a single living kauri was felled during this project. The timber was procured from either recycled sources, existing stockpiles that had been procured prior to government legislative changes in 1993 or from “bush kauri”. Bush kauri provided the majority of the timber for the project and is either kauri which had generally been felled in the 1930’s, or trees that had been “wind blown”. The timber was carefully selected to maintain colour and consistency of figuring.

A sub-frame of laminated plywood ribs was constructed consisting of eight triangular sections to make up each individual pod. The individual board facings are laid to a complex pattern that requires a tolerance of no more than one millimeter. These prefabricated shells were then carefully lifted up and fitted to the complex steel structures that support them. A series of bespoke steel brackets suspend the timber pods from the structural steel frame.

The slender kauri-sheathed columns are constructed from multiple steel sections that deflect eccentrically, resisting the roof tensioning. To achieve the required proportional elegance, each laminated kauri facing shell had to be craftsman-fitted to each column.