Waitangi Museum and Education Centre

The Treaty Grounds at Waitangi have an array of buildings, with four of the more notable buildings being – the Treaty House, a “colonial cottage” established in 1833, Te Whare Runanga (officially opened in 1940), the Whare Waka (opened in 1976) and the Waitangi Visitor Centre, by Architect John Scott – opened in 1983.

Paramount to Scotts thinking was the idea of the building relating to the surrounding landscape – the building becoming a part of the landscape. It is these ideas that have been developed and form the basis for the new building.

The new Museum and Education Centre is located on a previously modified piece of land bounded by Tau Henare Drive to the west, staff parking to the north, access road and Visitor parking to the south and the existing Reception Building to the east.

The building provides 664sqm of museum display, 108sqm of storage + the upstairs gallery and learning centre take up a combined 297sqm – all temperature and humidity controlled to the national museum standards.

The form of the new building is designed to replicate the slope of the existing typography. The long/low shape of the building has been cut into the landscape effectively reducing the buildings apparent height to a single storey.

The over-riding idea behind the design is to blend the building with the existing landscape. The solid precast concrete walls of the building will be treated with texture and colour to reflect an abstract of the shadow cast by the surrounding tree canopy.

”The new Museum of Waitangi is an addition to the country’s most historic precinct and complementary to others there. It’s not seeking to be the star: it’s at the service of the visitor’s experience of our country beginnings; its a long awaited treasure box for the return of some of the North’s most precious taonga and will tell it’s stories in a new way for a new generation.”
– Bill Mckay. “ Read full article

Northland Port Corporation

For many years Northland Port Corporation (NPC) located their offices in Whangarei within leased accommodation. The process of relocating to land associated with the Port of Whangarei at Ruakaka began in May 2012.

The brief – provide a single level, 200sqm air-conditioned office space to cater for the current staff, with an additional 200sqm of office space either as a separate tenancy or for NPC expansion.

The new offices are located on an unutilised rail corridor, parallel to the main port road. This location within the 4.9 ha site was selected due to its prominent position to passing traffic, both servicing the port as well as to the Marsden Cove precinct.

Situating the offices within a designated railway corridor meant the building needed to be capable of relocation if required. The solution – two 20m x 10m relocatable “office pods”, connected to a central entrance and services unit, which would be “sacrificed” should the building be relocated. Each pod is highly insulated and fully glazed with high performance IGU’s in a seismic frame with the north, east and west faces being extensively shaded. This allows for excellent natural light and efficient air conditioning while providing an open connection with the surroundings environment that the client demanded.

The southern façade is also extensively glazed with the same units. On the south, east and west the glazing extends beyond the mono pitched roof creating a simple glass box that acts as a “beacon” to the sparsely populated area at night.

It is hoped that this building would be catalyst for future development of the area.

Waitangi Gateway Building

HB Architecture has been working with the Waitangi National Trust for several years, providing solutions and resolving issues for what is arguably the most significant historic landscape in New Zealand.

The first stage has been to provide a welcome “gateway” building, new public toilets, additional cover outside the existing Visitor Centre and the conversion of the existing toilets to a cafe/gallery.

An important part of the brief was to create a new facility which was light and airy in complete contrast to original toilets, but still connected to the exterior – whilst remaining private.

The “Gateway” makes references to the traditional form of Te Whare Runanga – a large gable roof covering a front porch area with an open plan internal space, which in this case leads to the path, which takes the visitor towards the Treaty Grounds. The form of the building is also respectful of the original Visitor Centre designed by architect John Scott.

A significant feature of the building is the slated “whare” form which is suspended under to main roof – this modelling of the space emphasises the direction that the visitor will travel and makes a strong connection with the surrounding bush – establishing connection with “the place”.

Finishes have been kept deliberately simple – structural steel frame with natural finished timber inserts, tiles and carpet to the concrete floor, walls are substantially glass with the ceiling in plywood panels.

The new toilets consist of a large gabled roof supported on a “simple” post and beam structure with glass walls to 50% of the exterior. Along the ridge of the roof is a skylight, which floods the building with natural light.

The original public toilets have been removed and replaced with a cafe/gallery in keeping with the original building. A new glass canopy has been added to the existing building with timber battens to filter the light.

Alpine Cafe

This was an extensive renovation and extension of an existing building located on the southern face of Mt Ruapehu, at the base of the Turoa ski fields. The existing “snow flake” part of the building was removed to make way for the new kitchens, retail outlet, cafe seating area along with additional toilets and storage.

This new part of the building is a full two storey’s in height and has required extensive modification of the remaining building which had its roof lifted to tie seamlessly with the new work.

This was a challenging project, as there was a real desire to reuse as much of the existing building as possible supporting the notion of adaptive reuse which is an important aspect of ‘sustainable design’.

Completed by Grant Harris whilst at Ignite Architects.


Quarry Gardens Visitors Centre

In the late 1940s, Hardie Bros established a stone quarry at the Russell Rd site and began producing aggregate for local roading projects. Following a severe flood their quarry operations were moved to Otaika and Winstone aggregates ltd took over the site. It was then donated to WDC in 1976 to become part of the city’s parks and reserves network. Today, the subtropical Whangarei quarry gardens have become a community project created by volunteers. A master plan has been put in place in the aim to provide a stunning sequence of gardens and spaces, optimise visitor numbers and reinforce the flow of the valley and the movement of water through the site.

This visitor’s centre is the first attempt to make the quarry gardens more than a garden but a destination for people to visit. The café will be a great help in the efforts of achieving this.

Whangarei Quarry gardens visitor centre was the winning entry in a competition, which forms part of the master plan for the gardens. The building needed to capture the sculptural qualities of industrial relics, reflect the massive scale and industrial heritage and honour the gardens huge voluntary effort.

The Whangarei Quarry Gardens new Visitor Centre is a building that draws on the surrounding landscape for material inspiration and strives to connect visitors to the Gardens beyond. The interior serves as a blank canvas encouraging the gardens in through large openings. Its multifunctional capability accommodates meeting room for volunteers and local groups, public toilets, a manager’s office, volunteers room, outdoor seating areas, kitchen facilities, and a café/dining room for around 80 people.


Te Kakano

Te Kakano is an essential first step in the realisation of the Hundertwasser Art Centre.

This piece of sculptural architecture serves as a test bed for all the elements of the design, materials and construction needed to build the HAC.

In respecting the work of Friedensreich Hundertwasser we decided to use the koru form (Flag for NZ 1983). HB Architecture took the design a step further and based the geometry of the architectural sculpture on the golden mean/ratio – this was significant as the form of the structure was to represent a universal idea which has inspired thinkers from all disciplines.

Through-out the design and construction process careful attention to detail was required. All aspects of the design were reviewed by the Foundation’s representative in NZ, with drawings and construction images then requiring approval from the Hundertwasser Foundation in Vienna.

To insert this object into one of the main attractions in Whangarei is an exceptional achievement. This has only happened through the vision and perseverance of many volunteers. Te Kakano has been built whilst also raising over 80% of the funds for the actual art centre. Hundertwasser’s vision was to see an un-used building on the Hatea loop reinvigorated through the application significant interventions which represent the building being brought in line to respect nature – “living in harmony with nature”.

The sculpture is constructed out of concrete block, in-situ concrete, finished with plaster and tiles to the “Hundertwasser code for the Realisation of Hundertwasser Architecture Projects”.


Waitangi Visitors Centre

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are one of New Zealand’s most important historical sites, which have now become a very significant tourist destination. With increasing numbers visiting every year, there was a need to upgrade the Visitor’s Centre in order to enhance the visitor experience.

The Waitangi Visitors Centre, by Architect John Scott – opened in 1983. The design was a single large gable ended building, with the front in the form of the whare veranda. Over the years the building has undergone many changes and additions to cater for both administration and visitor needs.

A major consideration was to retain and preserve the integrity of John Scotts original design concepts and ideas. One of which was the simple play of open and enclosed space. These sequences of spaces make up a journey, which can be demonstrated from the gateway building to the visitors centre and throughout.

The alterations include the expansion of the audiovisual room. This will offer easy wheel chair access (which was previously absent) and will seat up to 82 guests. The glass-covered courtyard leading to the west façade (designed by HB Architecture) provides a meeting point for guided tours and an open space before entering. This side of the building will remain untouched. The large retail volume of the building will at last be able to be seen with the high-level windows beyond giving connection to the many native trees that envelop the building. This was always John Scott’s intention (as interpreted from the drawings), however, due to pressure of numbers of visitors to the building a series of modifications blocked this significant view. The large original gable ended roof has been extended and revealed, whilst maintaining the lines of the current ridge and structure. To the east, the elevated walkway connects the Visitor’s Centre to the rest of the Waitangi Treaty grounds.

This continues the ongoing work that HB Architecture has been involved in at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Knoll Ridge Cafe

Knoll Ridge Café is located at Whakapapa Ski Field on Mt. Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park. Situated on the side of a mountain the commercial ski field is also sited on what is New Zealand’s largest active volcano.

The café replaces the original Knoll Ridge Chalet which was destroyed by a fire in February 2009. As a result an ambitious design and build programme was initiated to replace the chalet with a temporary prefabricated facility for the 2009 winter season. Once the debris of the original chalet were removed, a 220sqm temporary cafe was erected on the remaining floor slab. This tested the methodology which was later adopted for the construction of the café.

Rapidly changing weather is typical of the conditions encountered on New Zealand mountains, with Mt. Ruapehu no exception. Designing a building for such a severe environment provided its own set of unique challenges. Limited road access to site and stringent requirements meant extensive planning and logistics were required just to get materials to site. Prefabricated concrete floor panels had to be rapidly constructed and delivered before the snow melted, these were then hauled over snow 700m up to site before construction began the following summer.

A major consideration in the design of the building was the issue of the remote location. The entire building, from foundation beams/floor panels to roof sections and windows was broken down into a modular panelised system, which allowed for delivery, placement and erection by helicopter on site. Insulated sandwich panels constructed of plywood and LVL form a large extent of the walls and roof of the café. These like most of the buildings components had to be designed with careful consideration not exceed the helicopters 800kg max load limit.

A 100% thermally broken purpose built glass curtain wall was designed for what is possibly one the most challenging environments to build in. The glass and framing system had to withstand wind speeds of up to 200km/ph and temperatures well below freezing. Twenty-five tons of glass was used in the 415m2 of glass façade which was all predetermined and ordered from calculations without a site measure. All the glass units were fitted with 3 equalizing tubes to facilitate onsite argon gas filling, equalizing tubes were also used as a precaution for rapid altitude acceleration during flight.

In the summer season the eastern face of the building can be seen set above the volcanic rock formations located on the edge of the drop off to the Te Heuheu Valley. The north face looks back down the mountain whilst to the west is the chair lift and ski area.

The form of the building reflects the strong geological features of the mountain. The “gull wing” roof was to appear to “cradle” the mountains peak. On a practical level is used to manage the snow. The building is designed to cover with up 3.0m of snow.

Timber has been used extensively inside and out to create the warm “feeling” of the “traditional” mountain chalet without adopting the traditional form. The glass exterior (particularly to the east wall) is the other feature of the building – allowing full exposure to the magnificence view to the Pinnacle Ridge.

The new café is located approximately 50m down the mountain from the original chalet site, with the main café floor at approximately 2010m ASL. The new building accommodates café seating for approx 400 people with servery, kitchen and support facilities all on one level. At this same level, a deck area for approximately 200 people is provided. The main public toilet area, staff facilities and storage are on the level below with separate access from the outside as well connection to the café via an internal stair.

Coburn Residence

This large house is situated on a promontory overlooking Lake Wakatipu to the west, with the Remarkables to the east and Peninsula Hill to the north – hiding Coronet Peak. In the fore ground are rolling tussock covered hills and the manicured fairways of the Jacks Point Golf Course.

The house is approached down a long lane from the east with the Remarkables at your back and Lake Wakatipu at your front. The entry gallery is aligned on this axis linking these two dominant features.

To the north of the gallery is the living area – essentially two very large rooms – the living room and the kitchen/dining/family room. These open onto an extensive patio area with lap pool/sauna/plunge pool.

Approximately half way down the central gallery a tee junction occurs – this secondary access links to the master bedroom area (to the west), the guest bedroom wing (to the east) with a stair/lift down to the basement garage.

The master bedroom area looks out over Lake Wakatipu whilst the guest rooms focus on the Remarkables. The form of the house is very simple in its concept. It is made up of three parts – the living wing (a rectangular form), the bedroom area (a square shape) and the linear gallery.

The scale of the house was determined by the accommodation requirements with the local planning/design rules dramatically affecting the form and finish.

The overall concept is based on “honest” architecture – crisp, clean lines devoid of decoration, constructed from material extracted from the site and sourced from the region as far as possible. The deep recesses to the windows accentuate the solid construction of the building giving a sense of permanence and connecting with the historic buildings of the region as well as the landscape.

Waiarohia Footbridge

Harris Butt Architecture in association with GHK Piling and Richardson Stevens Consulting submitted their entry along with four other consultant groups for the Waiarohia Stream Footbridge Competition. This design by local architects, contractors and engineers was selected as the winning entry over the entries of some larger Auckland based construction companies.

The competition required a design solution for an opening footbridge across the Waiarohia Stream. The aesthetic and design intent were critical aspects of the WDC assessment criteria for each submission. This wining entry for the Waiarohia Stream Footbridge completes a new cycle and walking loop that joins the Town Basin Marina to the new Lower Hatea River Crossing.

The simple form of the bridge is a derivative of thoughts based around movement, journey, water, light, food gathering and cultivation with connection to historic and current occupation of the place. All establishing and reinforcing “a sense of place.”

The bridge in its most simple form is seen as a link. Out of this comes the potential for many implied metaphors, which create the opportunity for all who see and use the bridge to make their own connections and interpretations.

The bridge meets the need to cross the stream in a safe way whilst allowing for the occasional passage of boats up and down the stream. The bridge has a low, horizontal profile, which is not affected by the opening of the centre section. Subsequently a minimal, elegant structure has been created which appears to simply ‘float’ across the stream.

The moving section of the bridge is opened/rotated using a hydraulically operated ram. This component is seen as a distinctive “switch” both separating and connecting Hihiaua and Okara.

The design was driven by the desire to remove any extraneous items from the bridge. For example, the lighting is an integral part of the masts with the masts supporting the screen with the screen rails acting as conduit for power.

This approach allowed for the ability to prefabricate the majority of the bridges components thereby minimising on site fabrication. This greatly reduced the risk of pollution and damage to the surrounding eco-system.

The bridge deck has been made from precast concrete panels with a textured finish. The pattern of the bridge deck was derived from the weaving patterns of kete. Kete often incorporated metaphoric symbols related to food, land formations, elements etc. In this case consideration was given to the idea of the flow Inanga swimming up stream.

The new bridge has now become an iconic feature of the Whangarei City from the Hihiaua Peninsula to Port Road across the Waiarohia Stream.