2017 Ted McCoy Award for Education
10 November 2017
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The 2017 Ted McCoy Award for Education at the New Zealand Architecture Awards was conferred to Tennent Brown Architects for Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana.
The building amidst its natural setting, nestled right next to the shores of Lake Waikaremoana. Image: Andy Spain
Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana is the product of a holistic process in which sensitive design and considered siting are complemented by a thoroughgoing commitment to sustainable principles. The building is an impressive expression of Ngāi Tūhoe’s identification with their land and its history and an excellent medium for the transmission of knowledge about a place and its people to visitors from around the world.
“For me, so much about the experience of visiting Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana wasn’t even about the building – which I guess is a strange thing to say within the scope of an architectural competition – and the building does have a strong form and yet, on approach, you could barely see it against the backdrop of the bush behind it,” explains Louise Wright.
“The building is almost functionless,” adds Lance Herbst. “It’s really just a space, a hall that could be anything or it could be everything. Even Ngāi Tūhoe are unsure of how they will use it. Programme-wise, it really is undefined, so its success lies in its response to this culture and in the way it sits within this impossibly sensitive environment.”
Te Wharehou’s success “lies in its response to Tūhoe culture and in the way it sits within this impossibly sensitive environment.”
“And yet, despite this ambiguity around use,” says Wright, “the building somehow seemed that it would be ready for when Tūhoe did decide how best to use it.”
“There is a lot of intention around where everything is placed – including the siting of the building itself – and it really does respond very well to the landscape. Everything in the design has a story and is totally significant to the history of the land and its people,” says Jack McKinney.