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“We wanted to create a place for people and a people place. We want the public, not just the tenants, to come into the site, and to contemplate the buildings and the place."

Gordon Craig, Senior Development Manager, Ngāi Tahu Property

The first buildings of the King Edward Barracks (KEB) development represent a new urban design strategy for Christchurch and are a significant departure from the old Christchurch city model, says Warren and Mahoney architect and Principal Graeme Finlay.

The development, he says, is further evidence of the migration west of the city’s working population to be based along the Avon River.  Ironically, the area was once the historical commercial centre of Christchurch, and known as West End in the nineteenth century, a name which has recently been reclaimed.

The design master plan makes maximum use of a large city block by combining commercial, government and residential accommodation in a prime location bordering Cambridge Terrace, and Hereford, Cashel and Montreal streets.

It is says Finlay “a truly mixed development.”

The brief from Ngāi Tahu Property required the development to reflect the values of Ngāi Tahu and to record the varied Ngāi Tahu and European history of the site. Phase One of the $85 million development has two office buildings of 6,500 sq metres and 7,500 sq metres, and a 20,000 sq metre gross floor area multi-storey carpark. The proposed Phase Two will include two more office buildings and Phase Three comprises 70 apartments; however these still require further design and are subject to testing of market demand. Unusually for a commercial development, the whole site will enclose an urban park, to be known as Ngā Māra a Te Wera (The Gardens of Te Wera).

Warren and Mahoney created the Masterplan for the three-phase development and project architect Vanessa Carswell, who is also a Principal of the multidisciplinary architecture practice, says the architects have been able to create a better environment for the city by “rethinking the typical urban block.”

Laneways and a public garden have been created within the block, which is sheltered from the winds and orientated to capture the sun. The project represents the site developers and owners, Ngāi Tahu Property’s long term relationship with the city, and their strong desire to create a lasting space and amenities for the public rather than just a typical block of commercial buildings.

The site, bordering the Avon River, is of significant cultural and historical value. Ngāi Tahu is the current owner of the site and has occupied this important mahinga kai area for centuries. It was also the location of the old King Edward Barracks where soldiers trained and left for duty in both World Wars. Since the 1930s there have been two police headquarters on the site, the most recent of which was imploded after the earthquakes.

The central Gardens will include a pathway to enable pedestrian flow from the Bridge of Remembrance through to the Civic Centre and the Art Gallery.  The park will showcase the rich Ngāi Tahu and European history through its design, including a number of commissioned artworks. Early Ngāi Tahu settlement will be honoured with storyboards included in the public space and some seats have been constructed to reflect early reed boats called mokihi. Native planting will be included in the central courtyard together with exotic deciduous species.

The advantage in being able to design a complete city block say the architects, is a much better use of land. “We have created a campus style commercial precinct with an inner courtyard,” says Carswell.  Office accommodation enjoys natural lighting from two sides and the courtyard brings people into the heart of the site. “There are no back alleys with wasted space and the buildings are better able to deal with overheating and shading.”

The development has adopted the latest earthquake technology. One building is base isolated, while the other one has a buckling restrained bracing system. Says Carswell: “It goes beyond and above code requirements, in order to meet the new client demand for seismic resilience.”

Both Phase One buildings will have photovoltaic panels on their roofs to generate power for the complex. Both buildings will be Greenstar rated, as well as holding NABERSNZ energy ratings. This energy rating system is based on an Australian environmental and energy rating system. The carpark will include state of the art parking for bicycles, as well as charging facilities for electric vehicles, licence plate recognition and red/green way finding and parking technology.

Innovative, too, is the use of a District Energy Scheme (DES) to service the energy demands of the entire site. Following the earthquakes, Christchurch building developers had an opportunity to think more sustainably about this aspect in their rebuild projects. Engineers Aurecon designed a central energy plant to service all the buildings across this city block. The DES draws water from an aquifer and passes it through a heat exchange unit before reinjection back into the aquifer. The plant harvests the heat energy from ground source water.

Although it has been designed primarily for the KEB site, the DES has the ability to link to adjacent sites that use the same system, including the Civic Building which houses the Christchurch City Council, and the Arts Centre, which both run similar systems.

“Once all the buildings are constructed, the DES will be able to share energy between them”, says Carswell. “This makes for more efficient and effective energy use, for instance residential units tend to have more heating demand, while offices have more cooling demand. Energy requirements between residential and commercial premises peak at different times of the day.”

Finlay is enthusiastic about “democratisation of space.”

“It really feels in this rebuild that space, action and vibrancy is being given back to the people of Christchurch, whereas corporate offices once fronted directly onto the street, and there was no way around them, or through them. Now there is this idea that the city is all about people. There are minimum standards re sustainability and ethical standards for our community.

“There really has been a colossal movement as buildings come together. There has been a shift along the river and I think the city will really come alive in terms of its daily life.”

Gordon Craig, senior development manager for Ngāi Tahu Property, says the iwi is proud of the development and its contribution to the “new” Christchurch.

“We wanted to create a place for people and a people place. We want the public, not just the tenants, to come into the site, and to contemplate the buildings and the place.

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Heritage buildings tell stories about who we are. It is a pleasure to be involved with returning these buildings back to Christchurch.

Peter Marshall

Warren and Mahoney has taken out the Heritage Category Award at the prestigious 2017 New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards for their “painstaking attention to detail and faithful replication” of the Arts Centre in Christchurch.

In the same week the Arts Centre, the largest collection of Category 1 heritage buildings in New Zealand, was recognised with a renowned UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation for two of the site’s most valuable buildings – the Great Hall and Clock Tower.

Peter Marshall, Managing Director of Warren and Mahoney said the project was a huge responsibility due to the history of the site and its cultural and social significance to the city of Christchurch.

“Heritage buildings tell stories about who we are. The challenge with the Arts Centre was to work with the fabric of historic buildings to bring them up to seismic standards as well as make them commercially viable and future-proof the spaces to become a vibrant centre of a modern community. It is a pleasure to be involved with returning these buildings back to Christchurch,” said Peter Marshall.

Warren and Mahoney was commissioned, in collaboration with Heritage New Zealand, to stabilise, then rebuild and restore the Arts Centre of Christchurch following the devastating effects of the February 2011 earthquake.

Warren and Mahoney’s design included the use of world-leading seismic-strengthening processes, where GRP (Glass-Reinforced Polymer) is applied over brickwork, layer upon layer, to lock them in place. The Art Centre is the largest site in New Zealand that this process has been used on.

“Bricks have a low sheer strength, so in a shake they can crumble away. As the process has to be applied to brickwork then plastered in layers, it is very labour-intensive, but it is the greatest safeguard against seismic damage available to heritage sites like the Arts Centre,” said Peter Marshall.

Due to the scale of the damage caused during the February 2011 earthquake, new modern elements could be discreetly introduced, including a canopy linking the theatre with the Boys’ High building, the installation of Wifi within the structure of the buildings, and artesian heating and cooling.

“One of the biggest differences we made to the building was upgrading the lighting. It now includes a multi-function lighting system that allows the lighting to be directed onto key areas. Features like the ceilings can now be seen in a way that they have never been seen before,” said the project’s architect Craig Fitzgerald.

Warren and Mahoney’s contribution towards the $290 million Arts Centre project compliments other Christchurch heritage projects, which include the Isaac Theatre Royal and the Christchurch Town Hall

Studio Opening By Richard Robinson Photography 0992

"The Bay of Plenty and the Waikato are major contributors to New Zealand's economic growth, and Tauranga and Hamilton are growing and coming of age as significant cities. We are here to support and play our part in helping to achieve this growth."

John Coop, Chairman

At an event held on Wednesday 18th October at the Tauranga Art Gallery, studio leader Les Matthews said the location at 76 Grey Street in the CBD provides an essential boots-on-the-ground base in an area that is moving forward in both a civic and business sense. “Having a local presence allows us to service the current work our practice is undertaking and to support future opportunities in the area,” he said.

Chairman of Warren and Mahoney, John Coop, who also hosted the event, emphasised the importance of the company’s commitment to the region. "The Bay of Plenty and the Waikato are major contributors to New Zealand's economic growth, and Tauranga and Hamilton are growing and coming of age as significant cities. We are here to support and play our part in helping to achieve this growth."

Matthews, an award-winning architect who also sits on the Technical Advisory Group set up by Tauranga City Council, has relocated from Hamilton to take up his role.  The studio had a soft launch in May and Matthews says he and his team have used the five-month period to achieve an appreciation of the local scene by engaging with the business community, the council and the general public. “From our first-hand observations and our research we have been able to gain a detailed understanding of the urban design issues and opportunities,” says Matthews.

Continued growth in the Bay of Plenty has seen an upswing in investment and development, and Warren and Mahoney has worked on a number of significant projects. These include the ASB Arena (pictured below right) and the new Zespri headquarters (pictured below left) in Mount Maunganui. Matthews says it was exciting for the firm to be able to design a state-of-the-art building for Zespri, a business that is a global industry leader. “Zespri is an important economic contributor to the region, and the design reflects the company’s environmentally-conscious culture and commitment to innovation,” says Matthews.

Warren and Mahoney, in conjunction with landscape architects Landlab and the City Council, was also responsible for the development of the Waterfront and Tauranga Civic Heart Master Plan, a comprehensive document that sets the vision for an exciting and robust way forward. John Coop, who formed part of the strategic design team on the plan, says: "Developing the vision has followed the inter-disciplinary and collaborative models used in other revitalised centres such as New Plymouth, Auckland's Wynyard Quarter, and the Christchurch rebuild."

The studio is currently progressing detailed designs for the Harington Street Transport Hub, which is located near the domain, and is a crucial part of the aim to regenerate the city’s civic heart. With several levels of car parking, it will also provide an end-of-trip facility for cyclists with bike parking, showers and changing lockers. Electric chargers for e-bikes and charging stations for electric cars are also planned. Matthews: “With more people working and living in the centre of the city, there is an immediate need for compact central parking combined with a facility that encourages more people to cycle in to the city.”

Establishing a studio here during such a progressive era for the region is exhilarating and a privilege says Matthews who admits the team has had to hit the ground running. “This is the first chance we have had to formally announce our presence. The positivity of working in this environment is addictive and there are so many opportunities in the pipeline, but I’m also looking forward to the day that I can dust off my paddle board and enjoy the unique lifestyle that is so clearly part of why the momentum is here."

Click here to view photographs from the evening.

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Gavin is borderless in his outlook, globally aware and very well placed to serve our clients’ interests both locally, in Australia and further afield internationally.”

John Coop

Warren and Mahoney has appointed former global head of civic and events at Woods Bagot, Gavin Kain, as Principal, fortifying the talented line up of the international team.

Kain’s specialist skills in mixed-use precincts and large-scale projects will see the practice continue to expand its presence in Australasia with a ‘one studio’ approach.

“The time is right to embrace the dissolution of borders through technology and strong, global networks,” says Kain. “Australian and New Zealand architectural studios are highly regarded across the world for our innovation and empathy, and our current remit includes a strong foundation of projects that demonstrate our skills spanning diverse sectors.”

Kain leaves his previous position as global head of the civic and events sector at international architecture firm Woods Bagot, where he led design teams on major civic and public buildings, acting as liaison between the client, designers, engineers and other community stakeholders. While at the firm, Kain spent time based in Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland, and Sydney.

“A key skill in undertaking large-scale projects is the ability to form a strategic alliance with clients, teams, and stakeholders,” says Kain.

“It is imperative to collaborate, listen and respond at every stage of the project timeline. Warren and Mahoney’s process ensures a diversity of perspectives, making for a stronger whole and mitigating risks throughout.”

His two decades of experience has seen him undertake projects and industry roles across the globe, from Vancouver to Dubai, including government design review panels, architectural award juries, and university positions.

Chairman of Warren and Mahoney, John Coop, said it was an ambitious period for the practice and Kain’s appointment aligned with the strategy to develop closer relationships between the seven studios across New Zealand and Australia.

“Gavin’s strength lies in finding the commonalities and differences in each environment,” says Coop.

“He is borderless in his outlook, globally aware and very well placed to serve our clients’ interests both in the Asia Pacific and further afield internationally.” 

Kain’s expansive expertise will add significant weight to the studio’s capabilities. He is a world-wide leader in the design of convention centres, and was a key member of the design team for the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland.

Kain was also responsible for the design of the $400m Adelaide Convention Centre, the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, the masterplan for the $250m Christchurch Convention Centre, as well as the concept design for major facilities in Asia, Africa and North America.

“Convention centres are often viewed as big, un-activated boxes, but of interest to me is the way they can contribute to city building and be of value to the community. I always ask ‘what will this mean to the place and the people?’” says Kain.

“The Adelaide Convention Centre presented a satisfying opportunity to regenerate part of the city. In some ways, building at its location in North Terrace was the most difficult option, but the outcome was better for visitors and the community.

“The convention centre became a missing piece of the puzzle that stitched the city and river together.”

Kain’s expertise extends over multiple sectors. Notably, he led the $200m South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) masterplan, which includes up to 25,000sqm of space within a sculptural building in the heart of Adelaide’s medical and health precinct.

He also worked alongside Warren and Mahoney for five years on the masterplan of the NZ$400m New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, and worked alongside the team on the Christchurch Blueprint and the Commercial Bay mixed-use project.

“I’m excited to join a company that has global aspirations where the design focus reflects and strengthens communities,” says Kain.

Kain will work across projects in both New Zealand and Australia. 

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“Warren and Mahoney has produced a design which perfectly showcases some of the world’s most beautiful cars. At the same time it is the most technologically impressive and environmentally friendly building of its type in the country.”

Michael Giltrap, Joint Managing Director of Giltrap Group Holdings

The new Giltrap Group headquarters and prestige showroom for Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini, is a precision-designed facility, which puts the spotlight where it belongs – on the vehicles.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney, the building at 119 Great North Road in Grey Lynn, Auckland is a mixed-use development that co-locates the Giltrap head-office team and sets the benchmark for ‘star car’ showrooms around the world.

Principal and lead architect Jonathan Hewlett says the project incorporates several global firsts within its design. “The challenge was to include these innovations while working within the parameters of each brand’s corporate identity.”

Three years in the making, the development is owned and partly occupied by the Giltrap Group. It features a 1500-square-metre, streel-level showroom, spread across the three brands, along with three commercial office floors above and four basement levels where the workshop, staff training areas and ample car-parking is located.

Moving away from the traditional model of a forecourt with administration offices set behind, every aspect of the customer journey is contained within the building envelope. The prestige marque line-up has a more immediate presence on the street, displayed as if in a retail window.

This ground-level showroom is designed as a gallery of automobiles and, as the shopfront to these luxury vehicles, it was imperative that it broadcast a premium message in keeping with the unique identity of each marque. “The showroom was conceived as three jewellery boxes with glazing that wraps around on the sides,” explains Hewlett. While it reads as a single entity from the exterior, internal finishes clearly distinguish each brand. 

Low-iron glass ensures precision clarity of the viewing experience for passers-by. During the day, natural light floods into the space while at night, overhead and carefully placed floor lighting put the accent on the vehicles as art. “Already people have been pulling over to stop and stare at the cars,” says Hewlett.

To maintain the emphasis on the Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini offering, the structure of the building is definitive yet unobtrusive. “We wanted a pure experience of the architecture, so the cars could be the talking piece,” explains Barrington Gohns, project architect. The design story centres on a large V-shaped concrete trusses that intersect with the showroom and offer structural support to the floors above. “For the trusses, we pumped the concrete into a mould from the bottom so that there would be no air bubbles,” says Barrington. “That way, we achieved a higher-quality finish.”

Echoing the beneath-the-bonnet, high-end specification of these star cars, the building aesthetic may appear simple and streamlined, but it’s the hidden details that count. Warren and Mahoney worked with performance lighting experts Targetti to develop bespoke all-in-one fitting for the lights, power, data and sprinkler systems. “It’s a slim-line servicing solution where all the customer sees is the outer casing of the light fitting,” says Barrington.

A seamless customer journey is central to the design. Clients drive in to the building off Great North Road, past the showroom and into an ‘internal street’ which provides an under-cover, secure way to navigate from the retail zone to the service areas. A number-plate recognition device alerts reception to their arrival. The architects collaborated with traffic engineers on the five curved concrete ramps between each floor which are meticulously planned for minimum car clearance. The curve profiles were tested in 3D vehicle tracking software and then constructed and installed on site with a laser scanner to ensure millimetre accuracy.

The underground workshop area includes 11 dedicated service bays that are viewable from above. “There’s a transparency of process, a little like in a surgical theatre,” explains Barrington. Customers can watch the technicians at work and staff training rooms ensure the latest global best practice is observed. To preserve the consistency of the clean-lined design, the bays are equipped with wraparound halo lights, hoists that are reticulated from below, as well as in-floor exhaust extractors. Barrington: “There is very little to clutter the visual experience of the vehicles and the raw state of the building’s structure.”

Design details that might go un-noticed but are essential to the flawless customer experience include the installation of an acoustic ceiling in the handover room. “This has the effect of filtering out other noise and puts the focus on the pure sound of the engine,” says Hewlett. Large glass slider doors provide access to the pre-owned showroom with a specific wheel mechanism rather than the customary brush system, so that tiny stones brought in by car tyres don’t get caught in the tracks.

Sustainable solutions were also integral to the plan and 119 Great North Road is the first building of its type on track to achieve a five-star Greenstar rating. The ongoing environmental performance will be assessed by the NABERSNZ certification programme.  High-performance glass creates an efficient thermal envelope and smart technology means energy use is closely monitored. LED lighting is on sensors and switches to low or off when not required while a combination of natural and automated ventilation means the system is reactive to day-to-day conditions. In anticipation of the introduction of electric vehicles, provision has also been made for fast-charge stations on the showroom floor. Hewlett: “It was important that we future proof the design to be able to respond to developments in all three brands.”

Upstairs, the home of the Giltrap HQ is on Level 1 with two more floors of premium office space still to be leased. With the opening of a centralised on-site café, operated by Ripe, tenants and the public alike can enjoy the handsome company of world-leading automobile brands with a state-of-the-art environment as backdrop.

“The 119 GNR Building has exceeded all our expectations,” according to Michael Giltrap, the Joint Managing Director of Giltrap Group Holdings.

“Warren and Mahoney has produced a design which perfectly showcases some of the world’s most beautiful cars. At the same time it is the most technologically impressive and environmentally friendly building of its type in the country”

“For us this is the perfect combination: a building designed by New Zealand architects, for a New Zealand-owned company, which thanks to clever design and materials, is doing its part to look after the New Zealand environment.”