World Building of the Year: 2013

Last year, I posted a piece about the 2012 World Building of the Year.  As a follow-up, I thought you might be interested in the 2013 winner.

But first…a quick burst about the annual World Architecture Festival where the prize originates. The competition is billed as “The world's largest festival and live awards for the global architecture community: debate, learn and be inspired.” Architecture admirers and design enthusiasts will want to bookmark this and follow it every year:

This annual competition unfolds over 3 days and a remarkable 32 awards are given in different categories. On the event’s final day, the biggest prizes are awarded: World Building of the Year; Future Project of the Year; Student Competition Winners: and Landscape Category Winners.

So for 2013, the World Building of the Year title went to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki in New Zealand. Toi o Tamaki is Maori for Auckland Art Gallery so the gallery’s official name is bilingual. The winning design was a collaboration between the Australian firm FJMT (Frances-Jones Morehen Thorp) and the New Zealand firm Archimedia.

The winning structure is not a new, stand-alone building like last year’s winner. In fact, it’s an addition to a landmark building that has existed since 1888. The initial structure was a French Renaissance design that housed both the Auckland Art Gallery and Public Library. Over the years the growing collections meant that the space had to be expanded, leading to a long series of renovations and additions.

There are so many neat things to say about this structure, it’s hard to know where to begin, never mind stop. But I’ll try to keep it brief and to the point:

The main visual feature is a grouping of ‘tree-like’ shafts and canopies to greet visitors at the entrance. What on earth are these materials? They are, notably, made of timber sacred to the Maori. In the construction of this building, the architects were inspired by the natural landscape of the surrounding area and used only wood that had fallen in the forest.

Somehow the organic, natural, geometric forms blend into the scale and proportions of the gallery’s existing heritage buildings. The canopies also help to open up and lead to the adjacent Allan Park.

The addition not only upgraded and restored existing parts of the structure, it also doubled the exhibition space and created new dedicated spaces for children, families and educational activities.

Those of you who might be lucky enough to travel from Ottawa to New Zealand this year or in the future will have an opportunity to view it with your own eyes!

Stay tuned for the World Building of the Year 2014 update.