Singapore’s World Architectural Festival has just announced their 2013 Building of the Year: Frances-Jones Morehen Thorps’ beautiful Auckland Art Gallery. The project, a collaboration with Archimedia, involved transforming an existing gallery into a premier light-filled exhibition space with galleries that seem to float on each level. Clad in glass and patterned wood panels, the breezy building safely exhibits some of New Zealand’s greatest art works.
The art gallery‘s innovative extension and refurbishment is centered around an open atrium that bridges the renovations, doubling exhibition space. A series of varying height roofs are lined with patterned wood panels on their undersides, creating a wooden canopy that echoes the trees of Albert Park outside the gallery. The wooden pillars and ceiling can be compared and contrasted through the oversized glass curtain walls, which juxtapose the surrounding nature with the contemporary art displayed inside.
The new addition invigorates the existing building, bringing expanded space that meshes seamlessly with the original structure. The large atrium doubles as a welcoming space and an area to hang oversized art installations – the first thing visitors see as they enter the museum. The expansion rests alongside the hilly site, adding exhibition galleries at different levels along the incline, which are all unified by overhanging wooden roofs.
The winning design nabbed the World Architecture Festival’s 2013 Building of the Year award after scooping the cultural category, beating out 16 other incredible entrants. This is what the judges said: “This is a highly sensitive addition to Auckland Art Gallery which reanimates and reinvigorates the existing building. It responds brilliantly to context and site and gives the gallery a new architectural identity.”