New Zealand Supreme Court

After seven, highly satisfying but challenging years, Ian Macaskill was delighted ¬†attend the opening of the New Zealand Supreme Court by Prince William on the 18th of January 2010.¬†“Having been the first consultants appointed to this project, we felt an enormous amount of personal ownership of it. And of course the stakes were very high, with an immoveable deadline, and a lot of public interest, which meant we felt the expectations of the nation pretty keenly.”

There were numerous aspects to this project which made it special, outside of the monumental importance of building New Zealand’s first Supreme Court. The 100 year design life meant decisions about materials, maintenance and space had to be thought through for all ramifications. Would this material last the distance? Could it be easily replaced if not? How could the court change over the next 100 years?

And of course the two in one nature of the project, with the restoration of the Old High Court and the build of the new Supreme Court meant two sets of designs. The different solutions developed also pushed traditional boundaries to the limit with the physical challenges of the immense domed main courtroom, the recycled bronze that ornaments it and of course the 2,294 individual wooden panels on the interior, each a feat of 3D geometric modelling and amazing computer generated joinery. The team also had sky high expectations for themselves and their partners, meaning not one of the consultants or contractors involved would settle for second best. Ian elaborates:

“Challenging design solutions are exciting and really push us to consider their impact on project parameters and what the knock on effect will be in other areas. It is vital that you tackle them head on in the early days if you’re going to achieve something that is successful, timely and cost effective. When dealing with a diverse group of experts – from the highly creative to extremely logical thinkers – we aim to get true collaboration by understanding and acknowledging their different perspectives but also encouraging them to prioritise the issues that matter most.”

The project was recognised by industry peers, by winning two Excellence Awards at the 2011 NZ Property Council Awards.