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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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We’re excited to see the School of Biological Sciences moving to the new building and the University’s science precinct, which will put science in the public eye and is a legacy for the future.

Rodney Sampson

Te Toki a Rata, the new building for the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington, has been completed on schedule in time to open its doors for the 2018 first trimester.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney architects, the 12,500mfacility on the Kelburn campus is a long, low, four-storey building that accommodates four undergraduate teaching labs, two ‘super labs’, and collaborative learning spaces.

“We’re excited to see the School of Biological Sciences moving to the new building and the University’s science precinct, which will put science in the public eye and is a legacy for the future,” says Rodney Sampson, lead architect.

The development aligns with the University’s strategy for growth and supports the Government’s aspirations to foster a prosperous, technology-driven New Zealand. Designed for the digital age, the school provides a highly collaborative workplace and future-proofed modern facilities for students, lecturers and researchers.

To achieve these multi-layered objectives, Warren and Mahoney undertook a comprehensive three-year research and consultation process with the science community, watching the way students, lecturers and researchers work, and visiting overseas establishments to ascertain international best practice.

The architects identified the need to open up connections between different fields of science to allow a cross-pollination of ideas. Sampson: 

“Innovative research and learning is about people interacting so we aimed to break down the physical barriers between traditional science groups by providing stronger connections.”

Internally, the layout is flexible with minimal boundaries to ensure a blended research and learning environment that maximises opportunities for student/researcher engagement.  The labs are well connected to the student spaces and not isolated or siloed,” explains Sampson.

Glass-walled laboratories mean undergraduates can see the scientists at work – and imagine what their own future might be like.

Spaces throughout the building can be reconfigured to suit the changing needs of the facility which future-proofs the school. Two ‘super-labs’ are large-scale, open, adaptable environments that promote increased collaboration and ‘flex’ between users groups, ensuring that teams can adapt quickly to best address emergent research projects.

“The screening that wraps the façade provides solar protection but its vertical profile is also suggestive of DNA markers – the integral building blocks in our understanding of biological science,” says project architect, Catherine O’Hare of Warren and Mahoney.

A cultural narrative also informed the architects’ thinking. The screening doubles as a contemporary expression of a ‘takitaki or palisade’, commonplace on marae and pa sites providing reference to the hillside location.  Building details are layered and folded, all elements consistent with Maori and Pacific Island design.

Appropriately for a building which celebrates the biological sciences, there was a focus on sustainable materials and energy efficiency. The palette of timber, concrete and stone was, where possible, left natural to minimise the need for chemical coatings. The exposed thermal mass of the concrete retains heat, displacement ventilation keeps the spaces cool, and a narrow floor plate harnesses sunlight to provide a balance of comfort without excessive energy use. Tanks collect rainwater for re-use within the building and atriums inter-link interior spaces with the newly landscaped external environments to reinforce a connection to nature.

Te Toki a Rata is a critical gateway to the science precinct of the University. “It’s a dynamic yet permeable boundary,” says Sampson “that links visually and physically to the campus beyond.” A covered vehicle drop off and separate pedestrian entries were created while routes through the building and walkway links to existing infrastructure ensure it integrates with the campus as a whole. A centralised plaza between this gateway and the established buildings is a lively meeting hub for students.

Another focus for the building was to identify as integral to the Wellington landscape. Its folded façade references the topography of the site, and the curves of the ocean and land at the harbour edge. Its articulated form sets up a confident, open relationship between the capital and one of New Zealand’s premier teaching and research institutions.  

“The design of Te Toki a Rata fosters innovation, brings more vibrancy to the city and contributes to growing the New Zealand economy through world-class science,” says Sampson. 



In recognition of the scale and breadth of activity in the studio, we are taking a new ‘dynamic duo’ approach to the leadership of our Auckland studio

John Coop

Warren and Mahoney has announced changes to its Auckland studio leadership team, with the appointment of Andrew Tu’inukuafe as Studio Principal and Richard Archbold (Arch) as Performance Lead.

These changes follow the announcement that John Coop, the current Auckland studio Principal, will take over as Managing Director of Warren and Mahoney on 1 April 2018.

“In recognition of the scale and breadth of activity in the studio, we are taking a new ‘dynamic duo’ approach to the leadership of our Auckland studio,” said John Coop.

“Andrew plays an integral role in the studio. His exceptional people skills and ability to form highly collaborative working relationships will ensure his success as Studio Principal.

“Arch has demonstrated strong leadership skills across projects and studio resourcing, placing him in a good position to take on the newly created Performance Lead role to support Andrew,” continued Coop.

Andrew joined Warren and Mahoney in 2015, having worked at architectural practices in New Zealand, the UK and USA. As a Principal at Warren and Mahoney’s Auckland studio, Andrew leads numerous projects, the People and Culture Portfolio, and the Interiors and Workplace design team across the broader practice.

“Arch and I already work very closely together, and look forward to strengthening these links through our joint responsibility for the Auckland studio and a shared focus on people and culture,” said Andrew. 

Arch first joined Warren and Mahoney almost 20 years ago, and has been lead architect on major projects including the New Zealand International Convention Centre and the award-winning ANZ Centre. He is actively involved with public engagement and promotion of architecture through involvement with tertiary institutions and as co-host of the architectural podcast ‘76 Small Rooms’

Andrew and Arch will be responsible for defining and delivering the practice’s Auckland strategy, and ensuring Warren and Mahoney’s continued presence and strength in Auckland.

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Warren and Mahoney has announced the appointment of John Coop as Managing Director, taking over from Peter Marshall who has held the position since 2009.

The move will see Christchurch-based Principal Graeme Finlay replace John as Chairman of Warren and Mahoney Limited. Graeme currently holds the Deputy Chairman position.

This is the first time that Warren and Mahoney has appointed an Auckland-based Principal to lead the practice, and Peter Marshall says it’s a strong signal of the practice’s commitment to the region.  

“The Warren and Mahoney board has been actively reviewing the governance of the business and identifying leadership talent. We have a clear view on where we’re headed and a clear strategy on how to get there.

“John has the capability and capacity to take the practice forward, and his location in Auckland, with the leadership team close by, will strengthen the practice and prepare it for future growth.  

“It has been a privilege to have held this role for the past nine years over an exciting time of growth for the business and Warren and Mahoney brand,” said Peter Marshall.

John Coop has held the role of Warren and Mahoney Chairman since 2015, and has been a Principal and shareholder of the practice since 2001, and Regional Principal of the Auckland studio since 2011. His new role as Managing Director is effective as of 1 April 2018.

“We have a strong business and we are on a mission to be a New Zealand design practice active in the wider world. The more knowledge, experience and talent we can gather from afar, the more we can positively shape the New Zealand built environment.

“Peter Marshall has guided the practice superbly for over nine years, through the Christchurch earthquakes, a period of growth into Australia, and an increasingly complex construction sector. It is an exciting challenge to take on this role, and to continue this story,” said John Coop.

Graeme Finlay is currently Regional Principal of Warren and Mahoney’s Christchurch studio, Chairman of Warren and Mahoney Australia, and has been a Director of Warren and Mahoney Limited since 2006. He is a registered architect in New Zealand and Australia, and was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Green Building Council.

“Having Graeme located in Christchurch with close ties to Australia will assist in balancing the geographic spread of our leadership,” said Marshall.

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King’s School, which soon approaches its centenary, has opened a new state-of-the-art multi-purpose learning environment as the school looks ahead to its next 100 years of educating boys.  

Located in the centre of the school, the Centennial Building has been designed to cater to the future needs of students and connect and strengthen the school’s community.

The opening of the new building is a personal highlight for King’s School Headmaster, Tony Sissons, who tasked architectural design practice Warren and Mahoney with the important job of designing a space that will need to support changing education trends and a technology future that is yet unknown.

“There were many planning discussions with Warren and Mahoney, and multiple requirements to consider, but core to the brief was the importance of human relationships within a school environment, particularly those between student and teacher.

“What we have in this building is a flexible environment that encourages collaboration with others, while at the same time providing more intimate spaces for individual and reflective learning. This is achieved without losing the strong personal relationship between each individual student and his teacher. It’s the best of both worlds,” says Sissons.

The new building adds an additional 5,000 sq. metres to the school’s existing footprint and consists of large light-filled classrooms, music studios and flexible discussion areas. It replaces the Hanna Block, which following a review by earthquake engineers was found to have serious structural problems.

Warren and Mahoney project lead and managing director, John Coop, says that the building had to connect the past and future of King’s School and that the end result replicates the real world of university facilities and contemporary workplaces.

“The space deliberately brings the activities of teaching and learning directly into the circulation pattern of the school so that movement and ambient activity are seen as positive additions to focus, rather than distractions.

“We’re really pleased with the end result, and to deliver the project on-budget with minimal disruption to the school’s activities,” says Coop.

The new Centennial Building allows a flow from individual classrooms into open flexible spaces, which can be used by students and staff from across the school. For the first time, all the school’s buildings are now well-connected by the use of bridges linking existing buildings to the new facility. The $30 million build took 20-months to complete, with most of the work being carried out during the school year.

Sissons says that the although the new building adds significant new spaces to the school, the King’s School Board is committed to not increasing its current roll, maintaining its staff: student ratio of 1:11.