Wellington Waterfront has been highly commended in the inaugural urban design awards.
The council-controlled organisation has been praised by the award jury for working over many years to create a publicly accessible waterfront.
Like many port cities, Wellington faced the issue of changing shipping practices and the consequent redundant sites at the city's edge.
The progressive development of this huge area was the product of a sustained effort by Wellington Waterfront and its many consultants, with strong input from the community, the jury said in its citation.
''The waterfront is a series of spaces, moving from the more dense commercial uses with established streets and well-defined public access at the northwest, to the more relaxed and informal open spaces to the southeast.
''Along the way are a series of places and spaces with a variety of uses. Water has been reintroduced into parts of the site and a range of uses introduced including major public infrastructure, Te Papa being the most notable.
''The project has some strong environmental initiatives and the consistent palette of materials, street furniture and lighting unify the works over space and time.
''The waterfront has been embraced by the community and enjoys high levels of activity.''
As a result of this sustained effort, the jury said, the capital's waterfront ''has been embraced by the community and enjoys high levels of activity''.
Top awards went to two Auckland projects.
The Jellicoe Precinct at Wynyard Quarter won the built projects category, and the Auckland City Centre Masterplan 2012-13 won the envisaged projects category.
Commendations were also given to Iron Bank, in Auckland's Karangahape Rd, the Talbot Park renewal project in Glen Innes and the Christchurch blueprint.
Awards jury convener, former New South Wales government architect Peter Mould, said there were many fine architectural, landscape and planning projects.
''We looked for projects which established or reinforced urban initiatives and executed them with demonstrable design excellence.
''Urban design is concerned not so much with individual buildings, but with the building of a city. It's about place making, and it's also about the public realm.''
Mould said that if a trend emerged from the first urban design awards ''it was the importance of upfront investment in the public domain, whether by a public authority or private developer''.
''Such investment sets the agenda for excellence in the future.''
Waterfront Auckland's Jellicoe Precinct, stage one of the development of Wynyard Quarter, was an exemplary case of agenda-setting urban design for which consultants Architectus and Taylor Cullity Leathlean and Wraight + Associates deserved congratulation.
The jury said the primary success of Jellicoe Precinct was ''the establishment of the street pattern and public spaces to give order and texture to the development to come''.
Iron Bank, RTA Studio's container-like stacking of steel-clad forms in Auckland's Karangahape Rd, was cited as a high-quality project inserted into a unique and historic area.
At Talbot Park in Glen Innes, the jury was impressed by the ''quality and diversity of medium density housing types designed to suit different household compositions''.
The social housing project was planned by Boffa Miskell for a client partnership of Housing New Zealand, Auckland City Council and local residents.
The Auckland City Centre Masterplan 2012-13, produced by Auckland Council's Built Environment Unit and City Transformation, was praised for ''addressing the complex development, infrastructure and public realm issues at play in Auckland's central areas in a new and innovative way''.
The Blueprint Plan for Christchurch - produced by a consortium led by Boffa Miskell and including Sheppard + Rout Architects, Warren and Mahoney Architects, Populous, Woods Bagot and RCP - was described as a realistic response to rehabilitating a city.
The awards were supported by the Institute of Architects, the Urban Design Forum, the Planning Institute, the Institute of Landscape Architects and the Property Council.
- The Dominion Post
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