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Global significance of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata

5 November 2023
As reported last week, NZ architects, designers, engineers and construction professionals celebrated the innovative use of timber in building and construction at the 2023 NZ Timber Design Awards. The prestigious awards, now in their 48th year, are run by Timber Unlimited and highlight the latest advances in New Zealand’s timber construction capability. The winners of the 12 categories, plus a supreme winner, were announced at a gala dinner in Auckland on 2 November.

Scion’s award-winning timber innovation hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata, was given further national recognition by winning the Sustainable Development Award and was highly commended in the Innovation Timber Engineering Award category won by Nelson Airport.

The Sustainable Development Award celebrates buildings that have achieved low environmental impact and enhance New Zealand’s unique society and environment, while the Innovation Timber Engineering Award honours engineering and construction innovation that maximises the use of timber with exciting solutions.

Judges for the Sustainable Development Award sang the praises of the building designed by Irving Smith Architects, RTA Studio & Dunning Thornton Consultants. “[The] building represents a global shift in the way buildings can be designed, prefabricated, assembled, and disassembled,” one judge noted.

“The timber diagrid structure provides a visual aesthetic that brings warmth and expression to the interior.” The second judge said: “This building shines a light towards the future of timber construction in Aotearoa New Zealand and will help pave the way for ways of designing and building with wood that make use of a wide range of materials and available technology for creating timber buildings.”

A judge in the Innovation Timber Engineering Award category said the highly commended Te Whare Nui o Tuteata was of “global significance”. “The innovative structural engineering design of this project is based on a deep understanding of timber properties and how timber buildings can be prefabricated and pieced together to form extraordinary buildings.” Another said the building “set out to explore the frontiers of timber engineering”.

Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder said “we are very proud of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata”. “Not only is it a beautiful building that is fantastic to work in it is a great example of the innovative engineering and sustainable low-carbon construction that the Timber Design Awards are celebrating. New Zealand needs to build more buildings like this so we can reduce embodied carbon in our built environment and meet our 2050 net-zero climate change commitment.”

The building’s name means the great house of Tuteata and was gifted to Scion by the three hapū who are tangata whenua here – Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu. Tuteata is their ancestor. It was officially opened in 2021 by then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has pioneered sustainability and design using engineered wood products and won several domestic and international awards. The design uses a diagonal-grid (diagrid) timber structure and was embodied-carbon neutral at completion.

Source: Scion

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