The Manukau District Court opened in 2000 to provide district court services for the Manukau area and jury court services for South Auckland, including areas covered by two other district courts. Very quickly it became apparent that the growing demands of court usage in South Auckland exceeded the space available.
Architectus was commissioned in association with the late Rewi Thompson in 2010 by the Ministry of Justice to prepare concepts for 13 new courtrooms and a significant expansion of associated facilities for the Justice Precinct in Manukau. Subsequently the Ministry undertook modelling of Auckland-wide courthouse demands, resulting in predictions of lesser demand than previously assumed. A revised brief was proposed and the project commenced at a reduced scale.
The design is an addition that respects the materiality and form of the existing building without seeking to replicate it and which serves as a backdrop to a new public open space to the east designed, as was the rest of the landscaping, in collaboration with Rewi. A new entry has been created from this open space to a redesigned courtyard and the existing entrance replaced with a glazed screen which provides acoustic separation, while retaining a visual connection between the courtyard and the adjacent road.
The existing building has been extensively reorganised and new circulation routes for staff and the judiciary have been added. The jury courts have been moved to the new extension, and replaced with hearing rooms or summary (non jury) courts.
The new wing contains, on two floors, three standard jury courts and a larger multi defendant court. A third floor, currently vacant, can accommodate two more jury courts or four summary courts. To the rear of the building a new street has been created in conjunction with Auckland Transport which provides parking and improved access for both the public, via the open space to the east, and the judges and staff.