Auckland waterfront apartment block wins NZ's leading architecture competition

By Jared McCulloch

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Wynyard Central claimed the prize usually won by standalone designs. Source: 1 NEWS

Judges in New Zealand's leading architecture competition have set the bar high, with an apartment block snatching housing’s supreme award for the first time.

Wynyard Central is part of Auckland's evolving waterfront suburb Wynyard Quarter, which claimed the gong at the 2019 NZ Architecture Awards last night in Queenstown.

The Sir Ian Athfield Award for Housing has usually been given to a stand-alone house.

The 113-apartment block is made up of three different building designs. Studio apartments in the complex start from $635,000.

The winning architect Patrick Clifford from Architectus said he wanted a neighbourhood feel.

“We are making a place, not planting or putting an object here,” he said.

Mr Clifford said the public are more accepting of apartment living than ever before.

“People are starting to make positive choices about the kind of lifestyle they would like,” he said.

Resident Richard Scoular has been living in one of the apartments for about a year.

“It is great, it is easy to live in, it is light and well designed,” Mr Scoular said.

This year’s convenor judge for the NZ Institute of Architects, Malcolm Walker, agrees.

“This one had been carefully thought through. It offered quite a lot of things including a good build quality, but it also offered variety," he said.

Mr Walker said the high-rise living is making a comeback.

“[Dense living] was done quite well in the 1940s and 1950s and then it just feel away a bit," he said.

“But the model of a quarter-acre [property] is long gone.”

Patrick Clifford has also been recognised for Christchurch’s central library – Tūranga – by winning the Public Architecture Award.

“It is beautiful and thoughtful and there is joy in it. It is full of people and it has got some books in there somewhere too,” said Mr Walker.