Places to belong

Auckland architects Nicholas Stevens and Gary Lawson of Stevens Lawson Architects were awarded the 2022 Gold Medal, New Zealand’s highest honour for an architect, by Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects.

Gary Lawson and Nicholas Stevens.

Known for their humanist architecture, created with an innate sensitivity to how people live, experience and move in the world, Nicholas and Gary are the first duo to receive the award since 2001. 

“For 20 years, Stevens and Lawson have worked at the leading edge of their profession, bringing a restless curiosity and finely honed aesthetic instinct to all they do,” noted the 2022 Gold Medal Committee. “All of their projects, the institutions as well as the residences, have a quality of ‘home’ about them, of comfort as well as beauty, of places to be welcomed and to belong. These buildings sit gently and timelessly in their landscapes, as if they were always meant to be there, and always will be.”

Te Kaitaka House.

“In architecture, you’re immersed in what you’re doing at any given time,” says Nicholas Stevens of the award. “You’re thinking a lot about the future … the beauty of this award is looking back and reflecting on a whole body of work with a kind of golden glow on it, which is immensely satisfying. 

It’s a wonderful thing just to take stock and think ‘yeah, we did okay’.” Stevens and Lawson joined forces in 2002 and since then have completed 80 bespoke houses and 20-odd multi-residential projects, including a papakāinga development with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. Perhaps one of their best-known projects is HomeGround, the supportive housing project for Auckland City Mission – Te Tāpui Atawhai. 

Blyth Performing Arts Centre.

The Gold Medal judges cited it as “a model of care-informed architecture. It’s also a model of technical innovation: the tallest structural timber building in Aotearoa, and the product of meticulously considered sustainability principles.”

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