Under Pohutukawa

DesignerHerbst Architects
PrizeHonorable Mention
Project LinkView
Entry Description

The site with which we were presented was extremely challenging. It is part of a continuous belt of forest that edges the road along the beach front. 90% was covered in mature pohutukawa trees. The circumstances not so much allowed, but dictated a sensitive poetic response to a building that, in order to exist would require the destruction of a number of mature trees. We looked to the trees themselves to give us the cues that we needed. The public space connects the two towers and attempts to engage with the surrounding pohutukawa forest by defining a crossover space between the powerful natural environment and the built form. The plane of the roof form pins off the towers to engage with the continuous tree canopy, disintegrating from a rigid plane to a frayed edge which filters light similar to the leaf canopy. The primary structure holding up the roof is a series of tree elements which allude to the trunks and branches of trees but are detailed in a rigorous geometric arrangement which suggests an ordering of nature as it enters and forms the building. The height of the public space with its light glass division responds to the height of the surrounding trees, the roof plane is partially glass to allow the full extent of the trees to be felt as they lean over the building. A walkway links the towers at the upper level allowing engagement with both the natural and man-made canopies.