Young Wellington architectural graduate making his mark on the central city
An up-and-coming architectural graduate is helping bring some vibrancy to an under-used part of Wellington, through a new retail precinct project.
After three years of design and construction, the fruits of 26-year-old Thane Houston-Stevens' labour will soon be on display, with the opening of the new Victoria Street Development.
The multi-facade, two-storey complex on the corner of Victoria and Manners Streets, is due to open in June, complete with several new retailers and a large-scale office space.
While the new building has many of the trademarks of modern architecture, Houston-Stevens said multiple designs elements had been used in the build.
* Wellington City Council and property developer begin construction on Lombard Lane revitalisation
* Planned new Lombard St retail and office block well advanced
* Mall planned for central Wellington
* The plan for Wellington's next 30 years
"It's broken down into three different parts so at the south end of the building I've tried to play on black and white contrasts while the Lombard Lane area will be pedestrian focused with four retail units, encouraging people to walk down there," Houston-Stevens said.
Houston-Stevens had worked under the guidance of experienced architect Julian Watt from Jasmax, to deliver the building for Cook Strait Properties.
"With this building, I have had a real chance to contribute to the fabric of Wellington."
The idea was to pay tribute to Lambton Quay's glass towers, the eclecticism of Cuba Street and the historic small buildings of Manners and Victoria Streets.
"Basically, the effect is to create three distinct personalities for the development along the lane," Houston-Stevens said.
"The result is a pared back, considered building – significant because it's restrained and interesting. It's shaped to reference its surroundings at the fulcrum of the city."
He had designed the building to "respond to the human body" in line with his architectural thesis which had looked at the relationship of the human body to buildings in Wellington, New York, and his hometown of Gisborne.
"My family runs a construction company [in Gisborne] so I've had a bit of a hand in seeing how things develop there."
While the Victoria Street project had been Houston-Stevens' priority for the past few years, its opening meant he was now free to focus on something new.
"There's a lot going on in Wellington so it's really cool to have such a range of projects to work on both here and around the country."