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India is full of surprises. Every time I visit, I discover something new. After every trip, I return to New Zealand with a better appreciation of and different attitude towards the two cultures.

You were born in Bangalore and lived there until you were 12. Tell us about growing up in Southern India.

Bangalore is a city of 8 million people so it was big, busy and bustling. My immediate family includes my parents and my brother, who is eight years younger than me. School holidays were spent with cousins at my maternal grandmother’s, and after school we went to my paternal grandparents’ house – so I grew up around a lot of people.

I have vivid memories of after-school rickshaw rides to my grandparent’s house where they had an English garden and red oxide flooring. I remember the Friday evening ritual of getting street food down the road with my mum, the smell of jasmine while walking past local temples, and late night movies and lights along the central city streets.

When I was 12, my parents, who both worked in banking, opted for a change. They moved to Auckland at a time when the world and its opportunities were open to them.

You own a worker’s cottage in Onehunga with your husband Sajeev who is also doing architecture at Patterson Associates. Tell us more.

Our house is about 110 years old. I still remember the day of the open home – I was hooked straightaway. There are colonial English aspects to it that remind me of my grandparents’ house and Bangalore at times. We were very lucky to be able to buy it – at 75m2, it probably appealed to a niche market as it also has a few zoning restrictions meaning we can’t alter the exterior.

We’re still finding out things about the cottage. When we bought it, it came with a name plate outside our front door - ‘Temuka’ – and we’re working on discovering its significance. Just the other day, we met a lady who told us that our street was named after one of her ancestors. There is so much history here and I feel like we’ve only just scraped the surface.

We have a courtyard and a sleepout at the back which we are doing up and hope to rent out soon but with two design opinions in the house, things are taking longer than expected! We’ll eventually get around to renovating the main home; when we do, it’s important to us that we stay true to the heritage and history of Onehunga.

What made you decide to study architecture?

I have always been interested in drawing. I started with anatomy and moved onto objects, eventually drawing the built environment around me. This led me to doing art and design in school – but I also enjoyed the practicality of some of the sciences.

I had a few career options open but by the time I visited Auckland University for their open day, and after talking to a few teachers at school, it felt natural to go with architecture. It was a no-brainer and I’ve never looked back. I graduated in 2012.

Do you ever travel back to India?

Auckland is now home, but with the first 12 years in India, I’ve spent some of the most influential years of life in a completely different context. I still have extended family in India so I make the trip back as often as I can.

More recently, I’ve started to travel to the northern part of the country where the architecture, the people and the food are quite different to the south where I was born. I’m still ticking things off the list – the next is to get to Chandigarh, the city that was planned by Le Corbusier.

India is full of surprises. Every time I visit, I discover something new. After every trip, I return to New Zealand with a better appreciation of and different attitude towards the two cultures.

How does your cultural background affect the way you think about design?

I revisited India while I was studying architecture and learnt a lot about what is embedded in its culture. Indian art, textiles and architecture are all heavily crafted. From the historic places such as the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, to brass sculptures and sarees, there is crafting everywhere and at every scale. This reminds me a bit of what we do here at Warren and Mahoney. Even though we have some great large scale projects, every aspect is designed and articulated, every staircase is treated like sculpture, while every detail is scrutinised. We get to work on craft at the micro and macro level on a day-to-day basis.

As part of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct team, I was fortunate to work on larger scale elements as well as smaller – for example, the signage on the Mason Bros. building. That was an exercise in itself and I took inspiration from the original engineering company logo.

Although I’m slowly losing the time to do things, I try to maintain this idea of crafting through a few community courses, the highlights being pottery and jewellery making. They’re both patient crafts but also a lot of fun and make for great presents.

Who are your mentors and what have you learned from them?

I started at Warren and Mahoney in April 2015 and one of the first projects I worked on was some feasibility/concepts for Wynyard Quarter with Blair (Johnston). It was so different to anything I had done before – these buildings are changing the face our city. It was a privilege to get an insight into Blair’s thinking process and the speed at which he works. He’s also been extremely supportive of other opportunities that have come up along the way.

I’ve also worked on a housing development with Patrick (Sloan) and it was fascinating to learn from his experiences in China. He encouraged me into some leadership of aspects of the project (with guidance), such as taking the lead at weekly meetings with clients.

Lastly, I’ve learnt a lot from working with Lynda Simmons, co-chair of Architecture +Women NZ. Listening to her talk about why she does what she does showcases the passion with which she carries out her work for A+W. The depth of her research and analysis is evident – her work shines the light on other incredible people and provides opportunities for many more. This takes a kind of selflessness, and it is something I have always admired.

What are you working on at the moment?

My time is predominantly split between two projects: Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct (commercial) which has a number of buildings at varying stages and Tauranga Crossing, a retail mall typology. Interestingly, my thesis project at university looked at the homogenisation of architecture, particularly in regard to retail environments so it’s great to be part of a team that is making the Tauranga building contextually relevant. The strategies can be relatively simple and by breaking retail mall conventions, we are able to achieve much more warm, relevant and gritty outcomes rather than an all-white faceless box.

How far along the path to registration are you?

I’m hoping to get there in a year or two, but it’s not a race. Some graduates get the relevant experience in two or three years. Others work on projects that take a bit longer. Learning is the invaluable thing and architecture, for me, is bigger than registration. So yes, it’s on my ‘to do’ list but I’ll do it when I’m ready. Besides, I’m still under 30 – and they say that at 45, you’re still a young architect – so I have a way to go!

You are the liaison between the NZIA and Architecture + Women NZ. How did you get involved in that organisation?

A+W-NZ is an active group that promotes visibility and inclusiveness for those who work in architecture via four channels – networks, events, research and policies. And the NZIA Auckland Branch Committee is filled with people who are driven and contribute immensely towards their various portfolios with their time, energy and networks. As secretary of A+W-NZ, my role is to carry information between the two organisations, to update them on events, share knowledge, report on activities and seek potential opportunities.

I also think A+W-NZ is an important organisation because discussing issues around diversity and workplace culture can be a great tool for the visibility of many other groups in the profession. We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for previous generations of female architects who have worked tirelessly to achieve this nurturing environment for the rest of us.

You will be taking part in the Architecture + Women and SGA workshop soon. What does that involve?

Lily Wong and I will be sharing participation in the 8-week project that is held at the SGA workshop. We’ll be prefabricating a building for the Motu Kaikoura Trust whose research facility in Kaikoura Island burnt down in 2013 due to arson.

The new building, designed by SGA, will be prefabricated at the SGA and Crate workshops in Kingsland and barged to Kaikoura Island (off Great Barrier Island) for assembly over Labour Weekend.

This workshop will help us understand the building process from inside out and the value in efficiency of materials and processes. But most importantly, this is an opportunity for us to build for the community. The most rewarding outcome will be to observe how the building gets used over time, how it weathers, and the satisfaction of people using and moving through something you built with your own hands.  It’s an exciting, one-of-a-kind opportunity – but first, I think I’ll need to find myself a tool belt.

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Waterview Connection

The New Zealand Institute of Architects honoured innovation and celebrated old and new at their local awards this year.

The awards are part of the New Zealand Architecture Awards programme run by the New Zealand Institute of Architects

This year’s Canterbury jury was led by architect Melanda Slemint. 

“What really stood out is the way architects have been able to keep sight of the human scale, and the context within which the projects sit. Christchurch is undergoing a period of identity change, and some of the new projects speak eloquently about the quality of life we celebrate here,” Slemint noted.

“The world’s best cities have a fine-grained rhythm that creates interest and variation and prevents streets and public spaces from being overwhelming. As post-quake Christchurch continues to develop, it is heartening to see that the city’s architects are attuned to the needs of people.”

Canterbury

King Edward Barracks – Commercial Building Award 

“A fearless sense of adventure and invention is expressed by the skin of this building, that is lyrical and sensuous, and complementary to both the plan and the commercial character of the building. The building acknowledges the river and courtyard like a parent loves a good daughter or son. The Right Honourable R. J. Seddon, Premier and Minister of Defence, would be proud of the fact that 113 years on, his stone still holds centre stage in this fine new building,” the jury commented.

The Arts Centre of Christchurch – Heritage and Restoration Award 

“Designed by Colin Hammond, the EA building is one of several Gothic Revival Buildings that combine to form the Arts Centre, a unique and important part of the cultural and historical heritage of Christchurch, even more so in the post-earthquake city. Accessibility has been introduced to all levels and spaces reconfigured to allow the School of Music to operate effectively in this historic building.

Every detail has been carefully considered in this sympathetic restoration which has breathed life back into the building,” the jury said. 

RJ Stewart Glandovey Road – Heritage and Restoration Award 

A large part of the comprehensive repair of this 80 year old Helmore and Cotterill home was the process of jacking up and relocating the primary structural to allow access to the subfloor. The judges commended the architects for their respect of the original detailing in creating this elegantly designed home.

“Sensitive alterations and extensions to the primary plan have allowed for a conservatory, new service buildings, glasshouse and garage that complement the original building and create seamless transitions from old to new,” the jury said.

Chapman Tripp – Interior Architecture Award 

The jury commended the simple and elegant materiality of this project noting that the light timber and white walls complement the art displayed. Gorgeous views, two exterior terraces, staff breakout rooms and flexible spaces make this workspace a delight to be in, the judges say.

“The simple idea of dividing a long, narrow interior with a spine wall imparts a clear sense of order. This wall also offers a welcoming gesture by creating a stepped series of panels where art is hung and built-in seating provided.”

Christchurch Justice & Emergency Services Precinct – Public Architecture and Interior Architecture Awards

The Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is a Christchurch rebuild ‘anchor project’ that the jury described as a “building without local precedent” that “encompasses many public functions necessary for society to work well.”

“Arranged loosely around a courtyard, this is an imposing building of incredible complexity. Formally ordered to the last sun louvre, it has a palate of materials that suggests endurance. In court, it is perfectly permissible to seek clarification of any ruling. In this instance the ruling is good; this is a well-conceived and beautifully constructed project.”

University of Canterbury College of Engineering – Education Award 

“Separate engineering facilities are now connected to form one cohesive College of Engineering through the design of a new central linking core. This new hub is the strength of this project: the primary elevation is carefully composed, the entry to the college provides an interesting spatial experience, and the hub provides for a wide variety of activities. The atrium is enclosed by a trussed ceiling that is a clear, and appropriate, expression of structural engineering,” the jury said.

The Wool Exchange – Enduring Architecture Award 

This building that originally housed the auction of wool goods was converted into a religious meeting place. The auctioneers’ podium was made in to a lectern for preaching and the square plan that once housed hectic auctions is now used by a Chinese religious congregation. 

The jury said, “The skylight and stairs are exciting architectural moves in an otherwise stolid structure built for endurance like a tight-head prop. In a post-earthquake city, this building has reinforced to the public the message that architecture can endure adversity.”

Auckland

119 Great North Road – Commercial Building, Interior Architecture and Colour Awards 

A winner of three awards this year, this building thoroughly impressed the jury inside and out. “The exposed steel and concrete beams and concrete trusses evoke the modern industrial genesis of automobiles, and sleek surfaces complement the cars’ sculptural forms,” the jury commented about this luxury car showroom and office building’s interior.

The meticulous logistics planning and rigorous detailing mirror the intricacy of the luxury cars on offer. Office interiors are highly polished and the two-storey concrete truss that braces the building is a dramatic diagonal element that adroitly frames the ‘jewel box’ car displays.

King’s School Centennial Building – Education Award 

The jury said the design of this building has “clearly articulated the desire for a learning environment that would create a positive pedagogical impact.”

The well-resolved design incorporates open, flexible and specialised teaching areas that support strong student engagement and interactivity. By opening to Portland Road, the project also shows generosity to the public realm.

Waterview Connection – Planning and Urban Design Award 

This project was a response to growing pressure on Auckland’s infrastructure and the jury commended it for its, “sheer grandeur.” Of particular note was Te Whitinga, the Hendon footbridge, of which the jury said, “[It] successfully and dramatically stitches back together a community that had found itself on either side of the motorway.”

Warren and Mahoney has added a layer of sophistication to the development of this motorway infrastructure project. The use of pou at ventilation shafts and as markers at each portal, seamlessly integrated with the tunnel, brings sheer grandeur to the project.

Wellington

Te Toki a Rata Victoria University of Wellington – Education Award

On the University’s Kelburn campus this science building provides a “legible new gateway.” The jury said, “The building unites this part of the university and forms a dark, reflective backdrop to the array of existing buildings on the opposite side of the courtyard.”

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King's School Centennial Building

Warren and Mahoney was recognised with five awards at the Property Council Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards last Friday.

Held annually, the awards judge property developments on their economic and financial attributes, vision, design, construction, end user satisfaction and sustainability credentials. Five projects designed by Warren and Mahoney won at the black-tie, sold-out event, which was held at Auckland’s Spark Arena.

Warren and Mahoney’s Managing Director John Coop applauded all who delivered the winning projects.

“We are particularly proud of the projects that we have collaborated on and achieving recognition in four diverse categories. Delivering specialist work across this breadth of sectors requires true depth of capability. The Property Council Awards judge projects on their commercial success and viability, as well as their design. Congratulations to our clients and collaborators."

Judged over a course of three months, the winning entries were:

Warren & Mahoney Civic & Arts Property Award
Excellence
Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, Christchurch

GIB Education Property Award
Excellence & Best in Category
King’s School Centennial Building, Auckland

RCP Commercial Office Property Award
Excellence
12 Madden Street, Auckland 

RCP Commercial Office Property Award
Excellence
Pita Te Hori Centre (King Edward Barracks), Christchurch 

Holmes Consulting Tourism & Leisure Property Award
Excellence
Auckland International Airport Pier B Extension Project, Auckland

 

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Architectural Graduate at Warren and Mahoney's Auckland studio, Divya Purushotham, is the newest Co-Chair of Architecture+Women-NZ after being promoted from the role of Secretary.

Appointed earlier this week, Divya joins current Co-Chair and Architect Lynda Simmons to support A+W-NZ’s core aims of visibility and inclusiveness. The organisation provides a support system and makes the work of its members visible, by removing or reducing as many barriers as possible - including class, religion, culture, sexual orientation or age. A+W-NZ works from the strong platform of gender, for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

“I am delighted to take on this position for an organisation that does important work. Discussing issues around diversity and workplace culture can be a great tool for the visibility of many other groups in the profession. We wouldn’t be where we are if we weren’t already talking about these issues but particularly, if it wasn’t for previous generations of female architects who have worked tirelessly to achieve this nurturing environment for the rest of us.”

She also credits Warren and Mahoney’s support. 

“Warren and Mahoney has been immensely supportive of my involvement with A+W-NZ. Adding to this, generous sponsorships towards the SGA Building Workshop and the Diversity + Inclusion Panel event held at our Auckland Studios earlier this year have enabled some key events and conversations for the organisation.”

Divya takes on the role following the resignation of Elisapeta Heta, who stepped down from Co-Chair after many years of service to A+W-NZ.

 

Nzia Awards

The New Zealand Institute of Architects Canterbury branch honoured innovation and restoration at their local awards this year. The jury conferred 34 wins in 10 categories last night at the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch. 

Warren and Mahoney received a total of eight awards, recognising human scale and the context within the projects sit.

"Christchurch is undergoing a period of identity change, and some of the new projects speak eloquently about the quality of life we celebrate here,” Slemint noted.

“The world’s best cities have a fine-grained rhythm that creates interest and variation and prevents streets and public spaces from being overwhelming. As post-quake Christchurch continues to develop, it is heartening to see that the city’s architects are attuned to the needs of people.”

Chapman Tripp - Interior Award

The jury commended the simple and elegant materiality of this project noting that the light timber and white walls complement the art displayed. Gorgeous views, two exterior terraces, staff breakout rooms and flexible spaces make this workspace a delight to be in, the judges say.

“The simple idea of dividing a long, narrow interior with a spine wall imparts a clear sense of order. This wall also offers a welcoming gesture by creating a stepped series of panels where art is hung and built-in seating provided.”

Christchurch Justice & Emergency Services Precinct - Interior Award + Public Award

The Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is a Christchurch rebuild ‘anchor project’ that the jury described as a “building without local precedent” that “encompasses many public functions necessary for society to work well.”

“Formally ordered to the last sun louvre, it has a palate of materials that suggests endurance. In court, it is perfectly permissible to seek clarification of any ruling. In this instance the ruling is good; this is a well-conceived and beautifully constructed project.”

Glandovey Road - Heritage Award

A large part of the comprehensive repair of this 80 year old Helmore and Cotterill home was the process of jacking up and relocating the primary structural to allow access to the subfloor. The judges commended the architects for their respect of the original detailing in creating this elegantly designed home.

“Sensitive alterations and extensions to the primary plan have allowed for a conservatory, new service buildings, glasshouse and garage that complement the original building and create seamless transitions from old to new,” the jury said.

King Edward Barracks - Commercial Award

“A fearless sense of adventure and invention is expressed by the skin of this building, that is lyrical and sensuous, and complementary to both the plan and the commercial character of the building. The building acknowledges the river and courtyard like a parent loves a good daughter or son. The Right Honourable R. J. Seddon, Premier and Minister of Defence, would be proud of the fact that 113 years on, his stone still holds centre stage in this fine new building,” the jury commented.

The Arts Centre of Christchurch - Chemistry Building - Heritage Award

“Designed by Colin Hammond, the EA building is one of several Gothic Revival Buildings that combine to form the Arts Centre, a unique and important part of the cultural and historical heritage of Christchurch, even more so in the post-earthquake city. Accessibility has been introduced to all levels and spaces reconfigured to allow the School of Music to operate effectively in this historic building. Every detail has been carefully considered in this sympathetic restoration which has breathed life back into the building,” the jury said.

University of Canterbury - College of Engineering - Education Award

“Separate engineering facilities are now connected to form one cohesive College of Engineering through the design of a new central linking core. This new hub is the strength of this project: the primary elevation is carefully composed, the entry to the college provides an interesting spatial experience, and the hub provides for a wide variety of activities. The atrium is enclosed by a trussed ceiling that is a clear, and appropriate, expression of structural engineering,” the jury said.

The Wool Exchange - Enduring Architecture

This building that originally housed the auction of wool goods was converted into a religious meeting place. The auctioneers’ podium was made in to a lectern for preaching and the square plan that once housed hectic auctions is now used by a Chinese religious congregation.

The jury said, “The skylight and stairs are exciting architectural moves in an otherwise stolid structure built for endurance like a tight-head prop. In a post-earthquake city, this building has reinforced to the public the message that architecture can endure adversity.”