Te Ao Mārama South Atrium at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum honoured with WAF award

Te Ao Mārama South Atrium at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum (AWMM) has won the World Architecture Festival (WAF) INSIDE: Public Buildings Award for 2022, becoming one of only three Aotearoa New Zealand category winners.

WAF and the INSIDE World Festival of Interiors is the largest annual architecture and interiors awards event globally, celebrating the world’s most prestigious achievements in architecture and design. This year, the event was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from November 30th to December 2nd.

Te Ao Mārama was designed by fjmtstudio with Jasmax and designTRIBE, and with Salmond Reed as heritage architects. The project was presented by Marianne Riley, Project Architect and Associate Principal at Jasmax, and Richard Francis Jones, Project Design Lead and Design Director at fjmtstudio. The presentation demonstrated how Te Ao Mārama has been designed to engage the diverse populations AWMM serves. The international jury welcomed this culturally innovative project and applauded its “respectful and sensitive approach”.

The project worked to reconceptualise the museum in answer to a provocation from Te Taumata-a-Iwi Māori Advisory Board, to decolonise the museum and for indigenous stories to flourish. Te Ao Mārama reclaims and celebrates Māori identity, to ground visitors in a richer understanding of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.  Architecture, artwork, interior design and exhibition content rebalance the visitor experience with stories and artworks from mana whenua (people of the land) and the pacific.

Manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga (respect and care) for manuhiri (visitors), taonga (collections) and the heritage building were central to the design. Extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement ensured cultural protocols were followed, museum operations were enhanced, and the building’s architectural legacy was respected. As a result, the project has established an international precedent for a bicultural visitor experience, by working with the museum’s valued communities from the outset.

“Following on from the NZ Institute of Architects national and regional awards in 2021, we are thrilled for the Museum’s transformation to be recognised internationally in this prestigious prize,” says Dr David Gaimster, Museum Chief Executive. “Te Ao Mārama is respectful of the building’s heritage, while integrating bicultural concepts that deepen engagement with the Museum’s collections and stories. The new precinct, with its full reveal of the unique suspended Tanoa architecture, celebrates our place in the culture and cultures of modern Tāmaki, Aotearoa and the Pacific.”

“It is wonderful for Te Ao Mārama to have been recognised on the global stage. As architects, we are both proud and incredibly humbled to have been involved in such a culturally ground-breaking project. This award is a testament to the vision of the museum’s leaders, the many project collaborators, the artists and stories that have enriched and uplifted the museum experience,” says Marianne Riley of Jasmax.

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum would like to acknowledge some of the key collaborators for their valued contributions to the project:

- Te Taumata-a-Iwi Māori Advisory Board, which comprises representatives from mana whenua iwi within Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, including Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Pāoa. Board Chair, Precious Clarke, provided a foreword for the WAF presentation.

- Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum Trust Board

- Pacific Advisory Group and Dr Albert Refiti, who uplifted the pacific dimension of this project

- Graham Tipene, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei (Te Tatau Kaitiaki artwork)

- Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi, Tonga (Manulua artwork)

- Chris Bailey, Ngāti Paoa (Wāhi Whakanoa artwork)