Hey Google, name the most innovative & iconic building

Friday 1 Mar 2024

Scion’s Rotorua headquarters have gone head-to-head with the Silicon Valley campus of top tech company Google — and come out on top.

But there are no hard feelings between the architects behind the two incredible buildings.

The Dubai International Best Practices Award for Sustainable Development was presented on 13 February 2024 and Scion’s Innovation hub Te Whare Nui o Tuteata won ‘The Most Beautiful, Innovative and Iconic Building’ award.

Designed by RTA Studios and Irving Smith Architects, it was a finalist alongside Google Bay View in the United States designed by Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and London-based Heatherwick Studio.

This week, Jeremy Smith of Irving Smith gave BIG partner Kai-Uwe Bergmann the grand tour of the Rotorua building while Bergmann was visiting New Zealand for an architecture conference.

Walking through the doors of Te Whare Nui o Tuteata for the first time, Bergmann says he was struck by the timber building’s warmth.

“Being a finalist in the same category is a great honour. The Dubai award celebrates work that innovates the building industry and Te Whare Nui o Tuteata and Google’s building both achieve that.”

The awards were held for the first time since 2019 in Dubai at the World Governments Summit. They featured five categories and attracted almost 3000 entries from around the globe.

The Most Beautiful, Innovative and Iconic Building category recognises iconic, smart, innovative, human-centric sustainable projects that innovatively combine green design and construction practices with modern architectural excellence.

The win adds to the list of more than 20 national and international awards Te Whare Nui o Tuteata has taken home since opening in 2021.

The building’s name, meaning the great house of Tuteata, acknowledges Tuteata who is the ancestor of the three hapū who are the tangata whenua here: Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Te Kahu. The name was gifted to Scion by those three hapū.

The three-storey 2000 sq m building was built using a diagrid timber structure using less material than traditional structures. Scion tested the strength of the diagrid components. The building has also been designed to be carbon-zero meaning it stores as much carbon as was emitted during its construction.

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Source and image credit: Scion

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