The new Supreme Court of New Zealand is a stunning feat of architecture that embodies the country's traditions and history while serving as a model of sustainability. Located in Wellington, the civic building was inspired by native plants of New Zealand and makes use of local and sustainable materials throughout its construction. New Zealand-based, Warren & Mahoney designed the building along with the renovation of the adjacent High Court building, and they were recently awarded a Gold Best Award for their work.
The new Supreme Court Building was completed in 2009 along with the renovation of the old High Court building. Rather than building a massive multi-story structure, Waren & Mahoney settled on a two-story square building, whose scale respects the tradition of the historic court, but still possessed its own distinct identity.
An 8 meter tall bronze screen, influenced by native Rata and Pohutukawa trees with red glass “flowers”, wraps the entire courthouse and serves as a shade screen. Made from recycled metal, the screen provides privacy for the interior offices, solar shading, glare control and weather protection.
In the center of the building is the actual courthouse, which is constructed as a building within a building and wrapped in shiny copper. The interior is finished in 2294 panels of silver beech timber with varied surfaces to enhance acoustics. The courtroom is shaped like an orb and the interior paneling was inspired by the spiral diamond patters of the kauri cone.
Solar thermal panels provide hot water for the building, while energy consumption is minimized with double-glazed windows, energy-efficient lighting and air-quality control systems. All the native wood used in the Supreme Court was sourced from sustainable sources.
The Supreme Court and Warren & Mahoney were recently awarded a Gold Best Award from The Designer’s Institute of New Zealand. This annual award recognizes excellence in graphic, spatial, product and interactive design.