Architecture in New Zealand has evolved into a marriage between modernistic simplicity and traditional patterns and ritual passions that run deep in the country. The island is much secluded compared to the ‘central-ness’ of the United States, which allows for more of a personal touch on evolution in architecture compared to other countries. New Zealand architecture pays homage to the past whilst producing modern ways to continue providing new adaptations to the design world.

Part of the glamour of New Zealand is the natural elements the country boasts. Much of the prized Architecture in the past fifty years has played into this statement accordingly. With large windows and natural lighting elements, one of the most important elements of New Zealand architecture is the ability to include the natural inside. 

The New Zealand Auckland Art Gallery is considered one of the World’s best buildings and one that encompasses the ultimate feeling of a “Kiwi”. The museum boasts large wooden roof features that not only create a statement within the building itself but also provide a shading element that captures the materiality of New Zealand. The mixture of natural wooden elements with the modern use of exposed concrete brings to light the transformation the country has been a part of for the last fifty years.

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Auckland Art Gallery _©Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT)

New Zealand also has recently adopted a Scandinavian sense of modernity through the basic “house” shaped frames. The use of natural woods and simple and flush facades that carry up to the roof lines create true passion in a form. The simplicity of the reveals and vertical grain boarding provides a symmetry lost in design recently. Yet there is something special that New Zealand delivers with its clean architectural designs – almost as if the country seems at ease and in harmony with itself and the world.  There is no need for significant detailed elements or bright colours – when the landscape provides all the colours that each resident needs. Within the past fifty years, New Zealand has taken their lifestyles and embodied them within their homes and buildings.

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Karanga a Hape Station_©Grimshaw.

New Zealand also boasts a passion for sustainability and the importance of creating wellness within buildings themselves. Using natural materials from within the country reduces the carbon footprint by lessening shipping time and construction needs. This also creates a larger connection to the site but utilises what is naturally grown in that area. The concept of “foreign” items used and paraded around the country in their architectural pieces does not harmonise with the morals and pride of the Kiwis.

LandLAB Concepty Entry _©Holmes.

Unlike its Northern Neighbors, New Zealand’s lush green landscape provides a framework for residential housing to sit isolated yet surrounded by virgin lands. This country has something that many countries have already ruined or have caused irreversible damage to already. The ability to conserve large amounts of land that has been barely touched. This creates an unrealised but highly important connection and feeling to the structure, the land, the people, and the fauna. 

Many architectural designs are loosely biophilic and considered a part of the land. The Living Building concept runs deep within New Zealand and the people. The roofing styles resemble two important landscapes within the country – the jagged edges of cliffs and rocks that are popular in Western Countries and the smoothed, low-rounded roofs that resemble the rolling hills of New Zealand. These two concepts provide a marriage throughout the country between the industrialised Western Influence the country has been exposed to, with the natural elements that the people fell in love with initially. 

Even though New Zealand architecture is caught between these two worlds, two ideals, two types. The architects within the country have created a harmony that creates a beautiful landscape of designs. The ability to harness the natural elements within a design that aren’t as harsh as Western culture is a skill that the United States is only now learning. There is a sense of masterful carpentry that envelops the large glass facades. These facades create a reflection back into the space outside whilst providing a see-through ability through the interior spaces. This gives a sense of interconnectedness within the country itself. This ability to provide a space of transparency is something special to the culture of New Zealand. The space reads similar to the land’s nakedness but is found within the residential and commercial spaces within the country. 

Within the past fifty years, New Zealand has come to learn to love itself in ways that produce exquisite art and architecture around the country. The ability to encompass a history of living in harmony with the lands and create designs that will continue to help the land stay preserved whilst providing a safe and well space for the residents is unique to New Zealand.

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