Pedestrians walking by the new Supreme Court building will notice the unusual ovoid shape of the courtroom. The courtroom’s special shape – its copper panelled exterior and interior lined with silver beech panels – emulates the form and texture of the cone of the kauri tree. Together they create a diamond pattern that references tukutuku (woven panels) found within marae. These features have the combined effect of a building that is symbolic of New Zealand.
Inspired by New Zealand’s heritage
The pattern for the decorative bronze screen that surrounds the new building is inspired by the intertwining of pohutukawa and rata. It is one of many references throughout the building to New Zealand’s unique natural heritage.
The exterior bronze screen is eight metres high and has 88 panels, each one made of 17 pieces. Structural design and a technique called continuous casting limited its weight to 90 tonnes. Made from recycled scrap metal, the screen’s manufacture involved expertise from across New Zealand.
The Supreme Court complex incorporates several sustainable features. Displacement ventilation, which was a feature of the Old High Court Building, allows fresh airflow into the new courtroom and library in the new building and the No 1 Courtroom and the conference room in the Old High Court Building.
Solar panels provide water heating for the complex. In addition, the glass used provides solar control and thermal insulation, and the bronze screen provides solar shading, glare control and protection. Native timber used in the construction has come from sustainable sources. Many of the Old High Court Building’s materials and decorative features were recycled, or restored and reinstated during its restoration.