GHDWoodhead has been recognised for architecture excellence for its work on a new Simulator Training Centre at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.

The project took out an award in the commercial architecture category at the Western Architecture Awards, organised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

The Simulator Training Centre provides a vital learning environment as part of the new Pilot Training Facility, which accommodates the new Beechcraft training aircraft.

Designing a new building to sit alongside the colossal No. 1 Hangar presented a challenge to the designers. Through their design response, a long, low form evolved. The roof is pitched to convey a dynamic feel, accentuating the linear form and embodying the aim of the facility of launching the careers of trainee pilots.

A cruciform layout integrates classroom and office spaces with two simulator towers, which rise up to ‘book-end’ the low level parts of the building with a subdued sturdiness.

Striking in its design, the building has an earth-like palette of complementary materials that suggest permanence and strength. The red cedar brings warmth and human scale, softening the hard edges and introducing tone and texture. By contrast, the zinc gives a hard sharp edge, but low reflectance. Over time these materials will weather and develop a surface patina which will embed them into their context.

According to the judges, the new structure continues the trend for excellent buildings at the base. “The link to the [adjacent] massive hangar is carefully minimalist, allowing this building to stand in its own right,” the citation says.

Phil Orde, GHD Woodhead’s Principal Architect, says, “We are proud to be acknowledged by our peers for providing innovative and thoughtful design for this project, which continues our long history with the New Zealand Defence Force.”

Phil adds, “Not only did we provide full architecture services for this building, we also drew on the skills and experience of GHD to provide building services, structural engineering and construction monitoring for the project. The Simulator Training Centre is a fantastic example of our commitment to offering clients an integrated suite of services.”