The eye-catching Otuawhaki Visitor Centre is located on a prominent site at the eastern end of Whakatane's commercial district overlooking the Whakatane River and its mouth to the sea.
The client's simple brief required the relatively small building to be prominent for residents and visitors to the district, but have minimal impact on existing views and the landscaped site on the river's stop-bank.
As a result, our design maximises the lovely views of the river to the north, while providing sun and wind protection to the outdoor public terrace overlooking the river. A flat roof limits the height of the building and hence its impact on views. Extensive glazed canopies, verandas and fabric sunshades help bring the building to life and give it the required prominence.
The centre's main functions are to provide a visitor information centre on the upper level, and public toilet facilities and luggage storage on the lower level adjacent to the tourist coach stop.
The form of the building is a simple curve responding to both the curving road in front of the site and the meandering river behind.
- NZIA Resene Waikato / BoP Architecture Award 2003