Jesse Ewart

Hverfjall Kaffihús



Appearing through the mist shroud of Hverfjall's ethereal field is a landscape of harsh volcanic geology and low Nordic light. A coffee shop is visible at the lower slopes of the hiking track, slowly approached by the senses of caffeine aromas

The elongated rectilinear form describes a reinterpretation of the Icelandic longhouse Skäli' through contemporary and low-carbon construction. Defined through roof volumes that house the distinctive activities. A dark earth plinth ties the building to the landscape it is built on. As a recessive presence amid the open fields.

Entering within visitors and locals are greeted by the visitor centre, volcanic exhibition and coffee shop beyond. Transitioning between the interior spaces through the interplay of light and warm hues filtering from each room. Simultaneously glancing through various glazed openings between the solid rammed earth walls towards the surrounding volcanic field. A flexible free-form plan for small lectures, markets and theatre events for locals and visitors to experience.

Occupants immersed throughout the coffee shop appreciate views of the sublime landscape beyond with a much-needed coffee break.




collaborated with Jason Tan, Tyler Harlen and Callum Leslie

Featured on ArchitectureNow and Architecture New Zealand, September 2020 (issue 5)

Jury Comments
Enclosure of a different kind is proposed in Tūāhu; we are invited into a series of blue-painted conic forms composed of plywood skins perforated by repetitive shapes derived from Gordon Walters’ koru-based abstractions. The result is a more-centred interior space enlivened by the light and deconstructed landscape glimpsed through the perforations.

The tūāhu emerges from the sloping hillside as a collection of interconnected sculptural vessels. An ambiguous object, and delicately adorned with an ornamental language of waka hoe (paddles). Deep vivid tones of Pūkeko blue expresses the distinctive silhouette and moiré of patterns which intersect the empty landscape.

Entering the Shrine
Exploring a tectonic expression of foreground and background - the viewer entering the sculpture is enclosed within the tūāhu, as the landscape interplay weaves a negative void and the positive object above forms an immaterial internal space.

The tūāhu looks to anchor the site through the shifting of scales and casting of fragmented shadows. An other-worldly condition of space, the viewer looks up towards the oculus and can observe a series of shifting colours and scales; apertures which frame the sky above and place below.

Derived from the aesthetic qualities of Gordon Walters visual language of abstraction, abundant articulated repetition through a limited range of geometric forms has inspired the visual expression of Tūāhu.

Enclosure of a different kind is proposed in Tūāhu; we are invited into a series of blue-painted conic forms composed of plywood skins perforated by repetitive shapes derived from Gordon Walters’ koru-based abstractions. The result is a more-centred interior space enlivened by the light and deconstructed landscape glimpsed through the perforations.

Te Waka Huia

FIRST PLACE: NZIA Wellington Central
Library Design Competition 

RUNNER-UP: Open Conceptual Category 
AAA Visionary Architecture Awards 2020


collaborated with Jason Tan, Tyler Harlen and poet Michelle Curnow

Exhibited during the New Zealand Institute of Architects Festival of Architecture at Te Auaha Wellington. 
Featured in Issue 3 of the NZIA publication Tāpoto, the brief within Architecture New Zealand, November 2019 (issue 6)

Te Waka Huia: The treasure box.

Te Waka Huia looks at Wellington Central Library as a collection of memories within the city, rather than just a collection of books. This collective memory of the city is represented through designed and collected forms and objects. These objects denote the past present and future histories, both Māori and Pākehā, of Wellington city and its library. Each memory is made to be shared by the people of Wellington city and those who come to use the library.

Greg O’Brien, Robin Simpson & Stuart Gardyne

While neither a particularly complete nor coherent architectural plan, ‘Te Waka Huia’ - The treasure box’ offers a deep and nuanced sense of what a library is at heart: a transformative, imaginative space. The proposal is an eloquent playing out of Rem Koolhaa’s notion that architecture should extend beyond the construction of ‘built solutions’.

‘Te Waka Huia’ honors the present library building by incoporating elements (mostly notably the nikau palms) into its design. The opening image in the presentation lays out the present library within a matrix of architectural forms (with some imaginary forms added, for good measure). In some ways, the design can be seen as an accurate depiction of the library as it has functioned since its construction, rather than as a plan for its replacement. The opening image, in particular, acknowledges the library as a foundational and integral presence in the life of the city.

The proposal reminds us that a library has many undercurrents and understories, pictorialised here as a labyrinth beneath the visible structure. The library is shown as a metaphysical space (or series of linked spaces) animated by myths and histories, by the words and images gathered therein. It is a place of the past, present and the future.

The design asserts that the library is a powerhouse; yet it is also an enigma - a place of hidden meanings and mystery. Just as everyone’s reading is different, so everyone’s mind-map of a library is different. The design suggests as much, while at the same time hinting at the institution’s role as a repository of communal and (cross-) cultural links.

At the heart of the ‘Te Waka Huia’ is the book (a form which the drawing echos). Channelling the works of Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Elizabeth Knox and Margaret Mahy, the design is at once alien and familiar. As well as having Gothic overtones, there is a baroque quality - jewel-like and precious. This is the version/vision of the library we construct inside our minds and hearts - architecture as memory, dream and poetry.

i. Te Ika-a-Māui

the head of the fish
a commodity taken

and rebuilt

                    and again
and                               then

convulsion                 cloven
fallible change

and rebuilt

                   and again

exposed through
fractures                     fissures

revealed      in cracks
in mortar

and brick

in timber

the city
                     perseveres, but


ii. Te Ngākau

if not for the keepers,
defenders of words

the past, across
an inaudible

                 - it may have been

here always
say tamariki underneath the nikau

as darkness comes
make their way

inside the one from before

iii. Waka Huia

the mountain’s cleft

remember, she says

fables and
upon her back

briskly, now
descending stairs

and passing
                    the past
immortalised in stone

the fronds, she says

                    that day in the square
sunny and
ponga and people

under the portico
she disappears

through a swathe of glass

iv. Rākau

two statues
                   their stories, and
their histories


lattice panels, now
decorative                   only

history proves
a cautionary

to the respite

of the quiet                 the weary
the curious minds

copper trunks stand
aside the littlest

making their debuts

they find their way

palms adorn

v. Te Ngākau/Civic Square section

and now
                  verging upon
a cusp

stories yet
to be heard, or
be               lived

the past
demands dismantling of

ideas         ingrained


Urban Surgery



collaborated with Jason Tan and Tyler Harlen

Urban Surgery reconsiders the traditional understanding of what it means to adapt to an existing home. Living in a modern city often means moving into an existing physical environment where the urban spaces, including our homes, come attached with their own personality and character. As the occupants of these environments we attempt to graft our own personality, character and lifestyle onto these spaces through means of cutting, removing and replacing architectural elements. At this point there is an interesting intersect between past and present. The former occupation becomes a scar, a palimpsest, that helps shape the next occupant’s environment.

Oriental Bay Kiosk

Adedu Wellington Oriental Bay Pavilion
Architecture Competition


collaborated with Jason Tan, Tyler Harlen and Callum Leslie

This project re-imagines the redundant Band Rotunda harbour site, towards a collective commons for the local ‘bay community’ and wider public. Intertwining the social and physical experiences of productive making, observing and collecting – to embody and activate the reinvented Kiosk building. Referencing architectural elements of the past site and surrounding, to engage and preserve the local identity of place. The Oriental Bay Kiosk is a collection of creative spaces set in three parts; the first is dedicated studio and community spaces for the public, second is an exhibition and performance space to present art to the wider community and finally a kiosk booth serving beverages and operating as vendor for a collection of local artistry. Together, these engage the urban waterfront landscape reflecting the building’s physical connection.

The band rotunda has had various reinterpretations on the harbour edge site, from early colonial and art deco to late 20th century additions. Initially, a colonial timber rotunda (1919) was constructed on the reclaimed water edge for musical performances. This was replaced with an art moderne pavilion (1938), for a dual-purpose band rotunda with a changing room. This was later converted to local community and gallery spaces. A second floor was added in the 1980s as public space, later converted into a restaurant. This additional level has affected the structural integrity of the original building. The proposal intends to remove the existing rotunda down to the original heritage level, retaining the architectural form and identity. The proposal intends to remove the existing rotunda down to the original heritage level, retaining the architectural form and identity. An alternative second level is added through the design process of reinventing and sourcing memories - historical elements of the site and wider Oriental Bay.

Form, Tectonics + Materiality
The previous and current band rotunda provides a historic reservoir of architectural form, tectonics and materiality expression. The unique qualities of the past are distilled and projected as spatial continuity within the exhibition and kiosk spaces. The contemporary insertion continues the semi-circle pavilion outline - with a light weight roof supported by CLT arch timber columns, with an array of openings towards the water edge promenade and direct views onto the waterfront peripherals. The floor consisted of an exhibition and performance space, a glass garden void vertically separates the space and allows soft lighting within the large open area. An external façade wraps the perimeter CLT panels with a scalloped brass metal, this will oxidise and form a unique patina from proximity with the sea.

Make + Production
The restored heritage level will be converted for artists to generate and create in an open studio space. These will be sided with the Oriental bay community rooms and a visiting artist studio. Allowing for the production of physical and social connections in quieter learning and making spaces.

The exhibition gallery allows for observation of installations, performances, visual art, symposiums and musicians. It provides a space for both creators, viewers and collectors to interact within a common public realm. The space allows the production of work to be curated and exhibited towards the public and local Oriental community.

The Kiosk booth operates as a small coffee and tea bar, but also as a platform for exploring the connection of multidisciplinary artists, musicians and students. It allows artists to promote and sell their work in an interaction beyond observation and exhibition. Edge seating also surrounds the outer booth, activating the Oriental parade promenade of the building. The idea of a kiosk relates to the previous ‘Oriental Tea Kiosk’ that existed in the early 20th century, regenerating a past identity and hertiage of the Oriental harbour.