Waimea Nurseries Fieldwork



  • “Winners revealed: Nelson and Marlborough Architecture Awards 2024”, Architecture Now, www.architecturenow.co.nz, 8.6.2024

Architecture can be fieldwork. For Waimea Nurseries, who have been growing and developing trees for the consumer market on the Waimea Plains for over 50 years, Irving Smith Architects have shaped a protective space within a cluster of horticultural buildings. It’s a sustainable and social play; protected ground; a village centre to come in from the fields to.

Much is asked of farming buildings for they are inherently lived. They accrue, become spliced, joined, cut, even inhabited. This landscape is an operation and its architecture wears and collects uses as resource. Buildings position hard to roading to maximise arable production, sprout chords and conduits as if urbanising in Tokyo, and unashamedly provide lessons in being unglamorous and continually repurposed to need.

Irving Smith’s approach recognises that architects rarely get to urbanise in the field and works to collate people and space to village rather than worry form or surfacing. Free-planning sets pathways, followed by patching, hole cutting and threshold connecting, each sequentially worked to prevent decanting, shelter the perimeter and form courtyard. This is external and elemental, architecture that opens collaboration across a community workforce; one or a hundred, wet or dry, young and old. The kitchen is in a former garage, the bathrooms in an addition to an addition to an addition. There are extensions and new, alterations and adaptions, openings and verandahs.

Each day those coming in from the field share break facilities with those fielding offices, and each month Waimea Nurseries lunch two hundred in their village centre. Boots, boardrooms, and barbeques. High-vis and hellos. This is a team collated in operation. Fieldwork.

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