The spotlight was on the best Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes architecture at the Te Kahui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Awards this month.

Held in Wanaka on May 21, the peer-reviewed awards celebrated the best new old Otago and Southland regions.

Twenty-four awards were presented across 10 categories, including commercial, education, housing, heritage and interior architecture.

Boutique winery Domaine Thomson, of Cromwell, was jointly awarded the top honour in the Commercial Architecture category alongside Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat and The Precinct Wanaka.

Four jurors visited all of the shortlisted buildings across Otago and Southland’s unique landscape.

“The overall quality of work was impressive and well presented, with clever responses to client’s briefs, challenging site conditions and intelligent use of various levels of budget”, jury convener and architect Rafe Maclean said.

The judging panel said Domaine Thomson’s tasting room and its traditional shed aesthetic had a “clarity of design which expressed the vineyard’s commitment to a single grape variety, and proudly announces its presence amid the atmosphere and dramatic landscape of Central Otago.”

Winners . . . Celebrating Cromwell winery Domaine Thomsons win at the NZIA Southern Architecture Awards from left are Breen Constructon project manager Ross McCulloch, site manager Rene Dons, architect Tom Rowe of Rowe Baetens Architecture Ltd and Domaine Thomson manager of operations Kate Barnett.

Although yet to see the completed project due to closed borders, Domaine Thomson’s Hong Kong-based owners David and PM Hall-Jones said they were “so inspired” by the response to the design from the judges.

“By showcasing our direct history with Otago’s chief surveyor (1854-1868), John Turnbull Thomson, our commitment to organics and biodynamics and then adding in our vineyards and wines from Burgundy, we are delighted with the harmonious flow for each unique story within these buildings,” Mr Hall-Jones said.

Domaine Thomson manager of operations Kate Barnett said the new tasting room and cellar door had opened only four weeks before lockdown and she was “very proud of the hard work that went into the design and construction of the project”.

The award acknowledged Rowe Baetens Architecture Ltd and Noel Lane Architects’ work in delivering a cellar door that had a sense of place among the unique Central Otago landscape yet provided welcoming spaces for the winery’s history and narrative to shine, she said.

“We’re real history enthusiasts and we wanted to showcase our history through this building and our narrative,” Ms Barnett said.