The decorative screen that surrounds the building was inspired by the branches of pohutukawa and rata trees. It is made from recycled bronze and has red recycled glass inserted into the design to represent the flowers.
Inside the building the courtroom takes its inspiration from the seed cone of a Kauri tree. The exterior of the ovoid shaped courtroom is clad in copper panels. The interior is made up of 2294 diamond shaped panels made from silver beech.
The Supreme Court complex incorporates a number of sustainable features. It has a displacement ventilation system which reduces energy costs and provides the buildings with a quiet soft flow of air. Solar panels provide water heating for the complex. The glass used provides solar control and thermal insulation. The bronze screen around the outside of the building provides solar shading. Native timber used in the construction has come from sustainable sources.
The Old High Court building
The Old High Court building was designed by P.F.M. Burrows, an English architect, who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1865 and later became Chief Draughtsman in the Public Works Department. The court building was the first major Wellington building to be constructed in masonry (brick and concrete) instead of timber following the huge earthquake of 1855.
Construction began in 1879 and it was completed in March 1881. Over the following 100 years there were a number of additions and modifications. In 1982 the building was designated a Category 1 Historic Building.
In 1993 after many years of being cramped accommodation for the then Wellington High Court the building was closed and the High Court moved to a new building in Molesworth Street. The building was boarded up and left empty for 14 years. During that time the roof deteriorated and many areas inside the building suffered water damage.
Preserving our heritage
With the establishment of the Supreme Court and the design of a new building for that court the Old High Court building was restored. The masonry building was carefully strengthened and put onto base isolators to seismically protect it. It was plastered inside and out, and the internal timber panelling was restored to its original state. The décor now features the original paint colours.
Having been completely restored, the Old High Court Building has the functionality of a modern office building while remaining faithful to the original design.