Innovation Hub putting NZ on the architecture world map

29 January 2022

Scion’s Te Whare Nui o Tuteata is putting New Zealand on the architecture world map. Scion’s innovation hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, has won 14 domestic and international awards in 2021 making it an international timber architecture icon.

The Rotorua building is believed to be a world-first diagonal-grid (diagrid) timber structure for a three-storey building, while also being embodied-carbon neutral. Its name and design feature stories of mana whenua, Ngā Hapū e Toru, and the building was designed by RTA Studio in collaboration with Irving Smith Architects.

This month alone, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata has won two World Architecture Festival awards (World Best use of Certified Timber Prize; World Higher Education and Research), a New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) National Award (Commercial), and a Resene Total Colour award (Neutrals).

A NZIA juror described Te Whare Nui o Tuteata as the “striking new public interface” of Scion, complimenting the “beautifully articulated timber framework”.  Overall, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata has won 14 significant national and international awards in 2021. Scion Sustainability Architect Andrea Stocchero believes there are many compelling reasons why.

“If you look from the outside, you see a simple building with fascinating colours that match the forest and at the entrance, engaging Māori carvings which tell the story of mana whenua. But, architecturally, it is when you walk inside that magic happens… the contrast between the simple aesthetic outside and the shock of entering a huge void hits. You see striking timber structure, architectural lines and natural materials in harmony with each other – that is what is so impactful.”

It stores 418 tonnes of CO2-eqv for the life of the building, which is the equivalent of one person flying 160 times return from Auckland to London. The timber in the Te Whare Nui o Tuteata structure has been regrown in 35 minutes by New Zealand planted forests.

RTA Studio executive director Rich Naish says the team is honoured to have been recognised at the World Architecture Festival Awards.

“In these weeks after COP26 the recognition of this building and the innovation it proposes for sustainability and carbon neutrality in the building sector could not be more relevant. We are proud to be able to make a global contribution to the climate emergency,” he says.

Irving Smith Architects design director Jeremy Smith says it’s wonderful to be recognised on the global stage for Te Whare Nui o Tuteata which sets new conventions.

“Tackling climate change requires working together and this building provides an invitation to ‘come walk in our forest’ and see how we can all better participate with the environment.”

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Source: Scoop | Image: Scion

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