Te Wharewaka O Poneke.


Client: Wellington Waterfront

Architect: Architecture +

Project address: 15 Jervois Quay, Wellington

Completion Date: February 2011

Te Wharewaka O Poneke is the signature building for Wellington's waterfront. It contains a cafe, gallery / exhibition space and function centre and storage for ceremonial waka.

The project utilised dynamic thermal models to simulate the temperatures within the building based on hourly weather data for Wellington. This informed the specification of the external thermal envelop. The roof is insulated to double the Building Code requirements which helps to moderate the internal environment, as well as providing good acoustic insulation against external noise. The extensive glazing includes high performance low-E double glazing units to reflect solar energy (heat) out of the building.

Air conditioning of the building was avoided to minimise energy consumption. Instead, the building capitalises on the famous Wellington wind to naturally ventilate the interior, drawing fresh air in through low level windows and expelling stale air through roof louvres concealed below the korowai panels. The windows and louvres operate automatically in response to signals from the Building Management System, enabling quick response to changing weather conditions (temperature, wind and rain) and CO2 levels. Utilising the climate in this manner means that there is no need for mechanical cooling.

The interior spaces are heated with in-slab freshwater pipework. The system utilises the adjacent harbour for sea-water heating through a titanium heat exchanger coupled to a heat pump. The constant warmer temperature of the harbour at 13-14 degrees warms the in-slab freshwater pipework circulating throughout the building, which in turn returns the cooler temperature water to the sea. The system is both energy efficient and eliminates the need for any heat rejection equipment on the outside of the building.

The interior lighting includes a combination of energy efficient T5 fluorescents and track lights that enable flexible arrangement for varying exhibitions. A daylight sensor adjusts the light level of the ground floor lights. Lighting to back-of-house spaces is controlled with occupancy sensors, while in the meeting rooms an intelligent control system is used to enable flexibility in setting lighting scenes. External lighting is controlled with a time clock.



The use of environmentally harmful materials were consciously avoided or minimised in all cases. Material selection was guided by the consideration of harmful effects to the environment through the life cycle of the material. The sustainable material choices included:

  • the Matai timber strip flooring installed within the hui space was recycled timber sourced from a former Government building

  • a reconstituted rubber product was installed to the floor and door surfaces through the higher traffic areas of the building

  • acoustically absorbent wall linings throughout the building are composed from recycled PET material

  • waterborne and solvent-free paints were specified throughout, with the quantity of paint minimised through the extensive use of pre-finished materials