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Auckland High Court





Auckland, New Zealand






Ministry of Justice



Andy Spain

Shortlisted for NZIA Heritage Award




Originally established in 1841, formerly known as the Supreme Court (1980) this project involved the full refurbishment of the Auckland High Court, in three stages.


Over the centuries, this Court building has grown and expanded to accommodate contemporary requirements of New Zealand’s judicial system. It is located in a quiet fringe of Auckland Central, sitting between Auckland CBD, the University of Auckland, and various green spaces.

The Auckland High Court and Court of Appeal Consolidation project involved a refurbishment of the existing building to accommodate a combined civil and criminal High Court registry, a new non-custodial civil courtroom, and a refresh of the historic portion of the building, repurposed to accommodate the relocation of the Court of Appeal. 


With a building of significant cultural heritage value, the objective was to conserve the existing fabric of the historic building as much as possible, and any interventions must not detract from the historic elements within the space. Careful and rigorous investigation of the heritage significance of each item were documented in an inventory produced by the Heritage consultant, to determine what could and could not be touched. Any damage to historic items were to be restored, and any new interventions needed to complement and match the quality of the historic fabric. 

The interior refurbishment facilitated the consolidation of the combined Civil and Criminal High Court Registry and Court of Appeal facility (previously located in the Auckland District Court), as well as introducing a new public interface.


The works included a new non-custodial Civil Courtroom, the re-purposing of Courtroom 3 (Historic building) as a common room for the Court of Appeal, the introduction of Judges chambers, along with supporting associated office spaces, and a general refresh of the historic building with new finishes.

The project maintains sympathetic and considered design that complements the existing historic features while promoting functional features of strict security, designing for complex building services requirements, and working within an existing, historic built environment.

Local timbers, broadloom carpet, stone features and brass accents were used to complement the finishes of the existing facility. The construction was a light-touch refurbishment with steel framing used throughout the project where new partitions and ceilings were installed. This enabled the project to achieve innovative solutions to strict acoustic requirements within the challenging constraints of the existing fabric. 


We worked closely with the end-users of the spaces to rigorously develop the design to ensure their needs were met. This collaborative relationship resulted in a very pleased stakeholder group, including the High Court Judges, by the end of the construction programme.

The refurbishment design is timeless and rooted in the conservation of the buildings’ heritage to ensure that it remains fit for the future. Courtrooms were restored and repaired by hand, and new timbers were carefully selected to celebrate the existing materials. 

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