Winner, Sustainability Award, NZIA Wellington Architecture Awards 2011
Winner, CCANZ Excellence in Commercial Concrete Construction Award, 2010
The Customhouse building at Centreport’s Harbour Quays makes the most of its unusual triangular island site to gain excellent natural light on all sides and to maximise sea views. Curved on one side, the streamlined white and glass upper storeys float above the double height base of the building, wrapped in a timber rainscreen to bring warmth and human scale as well as visual weight to the base of the building. A two-storey rounded ‘nose’, like the prow of an ocean liner, forms an inviting entry to a separate retail tenancy on the ground floor and links the building visually to the nearby port.
The exterior features dramatically tessellated precast concrete façade panels, taking their design cue from the barriers that are used in the port area and incorporating the idea of the designation and protection of borders. Double-glazing runs horizontally in strips between the dynamic shapes of the concrete spandrels. On the west façade, adjacent to Jervois Quay, heavy exposure to the setting sun has been addressed with striking metal sunshades that unfold like flags along its curved length. At the top of the building, the series of cubes that forms the profile of the plantroom is suggestive of a stack of shipping containers, reflecting the surrounding maritime activities. A planted rooftop garden above provides amenities for Customs staff.
Along with existing buildings in the area, the Customhouse building also delineates an urban space that will be developed into a vibrant square at the heart of the Harbour Quays precinct.