“A library on the beautiful Waiheke Island has taken out the top prize of Resene Overall Winner at the 2015 NZ Wood-Resene Timber Design Awards at a ceremony at the Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland on the evening of 15 September. Designed by Phillip Howard of Architects Pacific Environments NZ, who took his inspiration from the grove of pohutukawa trees on the site, the finished Waiheke library was so successful that it led the judges to comment, “This building is a lyrical response to the idea of a timber library building, and a structurally robust yet visually appealing statement.”
It took the first Waiheke Local Board over 12 months to rescue the project and get it back on track to being a purpose built, stand-alone library in Oneroa that would meet the current and future needs of the island. This took determination and stamina and an intimate knowledge of the workings of Council.
The Board’s library spokespersons, Chairman Faye Storer and Board Member Don McKenzie worked closely with the architects and staff from both Council’s library and public arts departments on a design that was appropriate to the site.
Phillip Howard worked hard to incorporate a distinctive children’s area, which allowed for free enjoyment while not impacting on the quieter needs of other library users; study room; lounge area; separate teenage space; increased computer terminals and a feature window - all on a site that is the gateway to Oneroa but also exposed to cold winter winds. How gratifying it must be for this core group to know that all their hard work has now won national praise for the architects
The first Waiheke Local Board made sure there were still sufficient funds to deliver an upgraded Service Centre on the existing site in Belgium St, Ostend and persuaded the Council to provide another million dollars to upgrade the Artworks courtyard to enhance the new library building. This courtyard was another project which Phillip Howard was engaged on and the results speak for themselves.
The Board ensured that Ngati Paoa were involved in the courtyard artwork and ceremonial occasions and, as an added bonus, that local artist Kazu Nakagawa could continue to work with the architects to turn the whole building into an artwork that tells visitors that Waiheke is an island of art as well as an island of learning. Kazu carved the wooden panels that make up the façade and then carried on the theme of words through the engraving on the courtyard that flowed into library entrance. Vector came to the party and under-grounded the unsightly power poles, which formerly lined the road at this point and Auckland Transport upgraded the footpath.
The Waiheke Library project was a collaboration between the first Waiheke Local Board, the award winning architects, the Auckland Council Library Team and Council’s public art department.
Make no bones about it, the only contribution we have seen from the second Waiheke Local Board is a churlish attempt by Chair Paul Walden to take credit for the project by putting his name on the plaque at the library entrance and blatantly ignoring the efforts and achievements of the first Waiheke Local Board and previous Waiheke Community Boards; the installation of a few bicycle racks, which are yet to see a bicycle and an ill-advised landscaping project which has placed multiple Nikau Palms right up against the library wall and in front of the picture window, threatening to obscure the very architectural features for which the building has won acclaim.
My congratulations go to Phillip Howard and Architects Pacific Environments NZ for a well deserved win. You were a pleasure to work with.