Opposites attract...

Tuesday 20 Dec 2011

Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects and Hamish Monk Architecture win 2011 WAN AWARDS Commercial sector

This year’s Commercial winners could not be more different. The successful Completed project - Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects’ The Granary in London - is a contemporary reuse project which sensitively re-imagines an 1870s listed building into a chic new headquarters for developer/contractor Rooff. In the Unbuilt category is Hamish Monk Architecture’s Hopuhopu Tribal Centre in the Waikato District of New Zealand, an impressive masterplan which forms a much-needed commercial base for 60,000 Waikato Tainui.

It was this immense 137 hectare project that immediately struck a chord with Unbuilt judge, Mark Swetman, Director of Hines, who pointed out: “The fact that it has gone from a very traditional style to a very modernistic one has got to be celebrated. The thing that I would like to say is the simplicity of how it’s put together and recognising this is buildings a cultural centre. It needs to be economically viable, but it also sits well with the adjacent land uses; I can see it being a more commercially viable operation as well which is obviously key in getting something off the ground.”

Fellow juror Eric Parry was equally impressed, admitting: “It’s nice to have a set of buildings within the context of a landscape without too much pretentiousness. I think internally there is the potential for a very beautiful condition of light between the outer weathering skin and the internal surface in its patterned timber as it responds to a place of community. I think the section is also potentially beautiful in terms of its scale; it seems to have as lot of promise at this stage.”

The concept itself falls in line with the 2050 strategic vision for the site location, introducing an administrative, social, recreational and tribal knowledge hub to an area which borders a culturally significant mountain and burial ground for the people of Tainui. All our judges were highly taken by the sensitivity and cultural awareness displayed by the architects and applauded the way that Hamish Monk Architecture took their inspiration from the people ‘rather than taking the aggressive commercial stance’.

In a neighbouring jury session, our buzzing panel were discussing the merits of Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects’ (PTEa) conservation scheme in London. Gensler’s Lukasz Platkowski was quick to highlight the architect’s attention to detail, noting that ‘the interiors sit so well with the exteriors because you don’t really know whether you’re in the old building or the new building, and that’s the beauty of it…greatly detailed’.

Unlike our Completed winner, PTEa’s scheme has taken a disused volume and given it a new life with bronze cladding and a contemporary interior, transforming the previously derelict building into a chic commercial unit which more than meets the needs of a 21st century client.

Attention was drawn to the resourcefulness of the project’s architects, with AHMM’s Simon Allford confessing: “I’m also surprised they’ve managed to detail it, bearing in mind where it is - in such a cheap part of town.” Other jurors commended the scheme for its relevance in a time of economic trouble, praising the conservation aspect of the project and the perceptive handling of the site by PTEa. This is the firm's second WAN AWARD win this year, having taken first prize in the Unbuilt category for their Tidemill Primary School project.

Congratulations to both worthy winners!

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