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July 2010

Accolades for Impressive Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre

In Rotorua, the Window Association of New Zealand (WANZ) awarded the centre its supreme "Design Flair"€ award for 2010, while at a gala dinner held in Auckland the Property Council of New Zealand gave the North Shore's newest civic building an excellence award in the €˜"special purpose property" category.

The awards mark a coming of age for one of Auckland'€™s lower profile architectural practices, Archoffice, which was started in 2001 and has become a specialist in library design.

"It'™s probably the best building we'€™ve done so far,"€ said Archoffice Director and project architect for the Birkenhead job, Brendan Rawson. Particularly pleasing for Rawson was the fact that the 2,600-square-metre, two-and-a-half-storey facility was not only successful architecturally but came with a €˜bargain basement€™ price tag of approximately $7.4m, a construction cost not uncommon these days – and often surpassed – for up-market homes in Auckland's wealthier suburbs.

To pack in not only a library but meeting and community rooms, a citizen's advice bureau, Plunket office, archive space and public toilets, for "single figure" sum seems a positive steal. Add to this the fact that the local community have heaped "€œoverwhelming praise"€ on the centre, according to Tony Holman, chairman of the North Shore Council’s community and parks committee, and one gets the impression that Archoffice have hit the sweet spot well and truly after designing half a dozen libraries around the Auckland region.

Rawson says that the Birkenhead project was especially satisfying for the 12-person practice to bring to completion as it was a long time (six years) in gestation, thanks to complex zoning for the existing library site and arduous planning approval processes which had to be worked through.

The judges for the Property Council award commended the building for its cutting edge architecture, space planning and design. The Birkenhead Centre incorporates a number of environmentally sustainable design features and was also nominated for the Council's Green Building Property Award.

Intext Receive Award

Vantage brand manufacturer, Intext Architectural Systems, of Albany, supplied the windows and doors for the project and were the recipient of the WANZ Supreme Award at a glittering awards ceremony at Rotorua's Novotel Hotel.

The competition judge, John Sutherland, one of the senior statesmen of Auckland architecture, was enthusiastic about the Birkenhead library achievement.

"€œWhat an opportunity for the brilliant use of aluminium joinery given the architect was seeking to make the most of the many long views from this building on the Birkenhead ridge and create a piece of well-designed civic architecture which has both form, substance and gravitas,"€ said Sutherland in his citation.

"€œIntext lived up to a challenge which was riddled with serious ‘degree of difficulty'€™ situations," such as a long raking head to the heavily screened street elevation, the high visibility entry foyer and its adjacent offices and the rear façade, where the installation of continuous, structural glazed strip windows presented significant technical challenges.

"To do the job Intext dug deep into its box of parts and came up trumps," said Sutherland. "€œBirkenhead has a civic building of which it can be proud – and Intext helped to deliver it."Rawson was also complimentary about the Intext team, which is led by Managing Director, David Waters. "€œThey did a superb job,"€ he said. "€œWe worked very closely with them."

The Window systems used included the following APL commercial systems:€“ the 40mm window suite, 100mm Flushglaze system, overhead glazing profiles, Magnum doors, glazing channel and frameless entry doors.

The building contractor was Mainzeal Property & Construction.

View more information on VANTAGE Windows & Doors, including contact details.
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