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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.”

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Gavin’s strength lies in finding the commonalities and differences in each environment. He 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 appoints Gavin Kain as Principal.

Gavin, who has worked for two decades in a Trans-Tasman capacity, as well as in locations such as Dubai and Vancouver, will take up his position based in the Auckland studio. He joins the team at a time when the practice is in an international growth phase. 

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

Chairman of Warren and Mahoney, John Coop, said it was an ambitious period for the company and this appointment aligns with the strategy to develop closer relationships between the seven studios across New Zealand and Australia. “Having worked in both countries, Gavin understands the nuances of doing business in both environments and will be able to actively support and reinforce this collaboration.”

Gavin is a regional and worldwide leader in the design of convention centres. However, as a mixed-use precinct specialist, his focus is on the urban planning opportunities presented by such large-scale developments.

“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?’”

In designing the Adelaide Convention Centre he says it was satisfying to be able to regenerate a decayed part of the city. “In some ways, building at this location 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.”

As part of his role, Gavin’s research on cities includes defining the demographics and assessing the economic and societal ‘mood’ - one reason why he is particularly looking forward to calling Auckland home. “It’s a very positive place at the moment. There’s a fundamental self-confidence here that is balanced by an outward-looking attitude; Aucklanders like to celebrate diversity and are also interested in what goes on in other parts of the world.”

Gavin 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 Woods Bagot he spent time based in Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland and Sydney.

He is enthusiastic about joining Warren and Mahoney at a time when the practice is focussed on building its international reach and relevance. “I am optimistic that the moment is right to embrace the opportunities. We have a good foundation of current projects, the technology is here to dissolve borders, and New Zealand and Australian architectural firms are well regarded globally since we are seen as having less ‘baggage’ and better listening skills.”  

One area of the architectural landscape that he sees as an important future contributor to the New Zealand economy is the science and technology sector. “Research facilities are often not seen as exciting but the work that is done in these institutions is often about health and environment, so it ultimately has an impact on all of us,” he says.

Gavin points to the example of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), where the master planning turned the traditional model of an introverted establishment that pushed the community away into a welcoming and transparent facility with an urban plaza at its base. “Not enough 17-year-olds aspire to be scientists but this approach, by being more inclusive, allows research to become ‘cool’. The story of the building moves way beyond the fundamentals of size and aesthetics; it’s about developing future leaders and fostering healthier communities.”

Although he has spent much of his career travelling between projects in Europe, North America and Australasia, Gavin also worked alongside Warren and Mahoney for five years on the masterplan of the New Zealand International Convention Centre and so is looking forward to making Auckland his base, with short-haul trips across the Tasman. “Gavin’s strength lies in finding the commonalities and differences in each environment,” says John Coop: “He is borderless in his outlook, globally aware and very well placed to serve our clients’ interests both locally, in Australia and further afield internationally.”

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Wynyard Quarter's Innovation Precinct is the built face of an innovative city – a vibrant, accessible place where the public can work, live and be entertained, informed and inspired. It is playing a key role in making Auckland a globally relevant story.

Blair Johnston, Principal

The new GridAKL building at 12 Madden Street in the fast-growing Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct takes strong cues from the heritage of its site and from the neighbouring Mason Bros building which houses its designers, Warren and Mahoney Architects.

The six-storeyed glazed building with a black brick base features an industrial material palette that references the origins of this area once used for ship-building and engineering – an intentionally  ‘raw’ rather than a ‘refined’ architectural expression. Unlike many modern commercial premises, GridAKL is not a hermetically sealed environment but has operable windows and balconies to ensure the inhabitants of the building are highly connected with the adjacent public lanes, while also acting as a signal of the project’s sustainability credentials.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney for Precinct Properties, GridAKL houses ATEED and Generator as key tenants, and is tangible evidence of the progress of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct.  At 7,500 square metres the project will quadruple the current level of innovation tenants in the precinct when fully occupied.

Blair Johnston was design architect for the project and also worked on the masterplan for the commercial buildings in the Wynyard Quarter, alongside Waterfront Auckland (now Panuku Development), Precinct Properties and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

The design-led masterplan included the development of high-quality, sustainable office space within the Wynyard Quarter block bounded by Halsey, Pakenham, Madden and Daldy Streets.

Johnston says that the existing character fabric, such as the Lysaght Building and Mason Brothers Building, is a powerful asset for the development. “This rare collection of functional heritage buildings along Auckland’s waterfront provides an authentic counterpart to the contemporary architecture which will form the majority of the buildings in this area,” he says.

The masterplan allows for a coherency of approach not always seen in other areas of Auckland; as well as GridAKL, there are three more commercial buildings to be developed in the precinct and further residential and retail environments.

“Innovation Precincts are organic, living environments. The Precinct provides a wide range of spaces to support businesses at different stages of their evolutionary cycle, actively ‘curating’ a range of users to encourage new ideas and new thinking,” explains Johnston.

“The design of the Precinct breaks down the conventional boundaries between businesses. Co-working spaces that allow businesses to come together in neutral, flexible and technology-rich environments provide a completely new kind of space in the city.”

The next phase of development in the Innovation Precinct will focus on the construction of public lanes. This network of landscaped laneways with integrated artwork and catenary lighting will accommodate spaces for children to play and become an everyday destination for all Aucklanders. These lanes will link the commercial, residential and hospitality uses of Wynyard Quarter.

Johnston says there will soon be a concentration of activity in the Wynyard Quarter with the influx of workers, such as software developers, moving into GridAKL alongside residential occupants. The combination of residential, innovation and commercial use will bring diversity and interest throughout the week, a mix that helps to builds a sense of community. “Aucklanders will realise that this is not a soulless commercial office park, but a real 24/7 mixed-use destination that appeals to all sorts of people,” says Johnston. It’s the built face of an innovative city – a vibrant, accessible place where the public can work, live and be entertained, informed and inspired. “The Innovation Precinct is playing a key role in making Auckland a globally relevant story.”

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“The reinvigorated teaching and research facility now has a united and strong identity with keys into our client’s aim to become one of the top ten engineering colleges in the Southern Hemisphere by 2023.”

Graeme Finlay

New ways of learning are transforming the design of university buildings as the traditional model of the lecturer standing in front of a tiered theatre is gradually replaced with more activity and group-based techniques. The universal adoption of laptops and handheld devices is just one of the reasons students and teachers are seeking flexible and collaborative spaces to learn in.

Warren and Mahoney was tasked with the redevelopment of the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, a collection of buildings constructed between the 1950s and 1990s which the University took the opportunity to redevelop following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The chief challenge was how to modernise the complex and link the existing buildings, which radiate into four wings, in order to create a new heart in the midst of the facility where lecturers, researchers and students could collaborate, communicate and socialise. “It was important that the regenerated college would be able to unite the community of engineers and improve the student experience,” says Graeme Finlay, Principal of Warren and Mahoney.

The brief was to create a state-of-the-art research and educational establishment within the confines of the existing buildings. These also needed repairing and earthquake strengthening to the higher standard required of an educational facility, a highly complex task.

The strategy adopted was to take a poorly used and run-down courtyard and transform it into a modern, inviting hub. This space, dubbed The Core, contains comfortable sofas, chairs and tables for collaborative working. There are cubicles for quiet study and private conversations, all furnished with splashes of vibrant purple, the College of Engineering’s signature colour. Drawing rooms, CAD suites, lecture theatres and meeting rooms are located around the perimeter of The Core.

The Core was opened on the first day of the 2017 academic year and College of Engineering Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Evans-Freeman said that student and lecturers alike had “enthusiastically” embraced the concept. “It’s a well-used space seven days a week and a variety of functions and events are planned to maximise the benefits of the space starting early next year.” The college plans to use this hub to showcase student achievements, projects and research, and to host conferences out of term time.

The complex comprises four wings which connect directly to The Core. These are alternately dedicated to chemical and process engineering, electrical and computer, mechanical, and structural and civil engineering. Warren and Mahoney has reconfigured each of these wings to house bespoke and highly technical functions. “A key strategy is transparency of purpose and the wings are designed to showcase to the students the ground-breaking and inspirational work that goes on in these spaces,” says Finlay. A new structural engineering laboratory – one of the largest of its kind in Australasia that is able to simulate earthquakes and test full-size building structures – has also been created as a standalone building, but still part of the Engineering precinct.

Two of the redeveloped wings are already operational and two more are set to open by the end of the year. Finlay says it has been satisfying to deliver on this long-term, full-scale project. “The reinvigorated teaching and research facility now has a united and strong identity with keys into our client’s aim to become one of the top ten engineering colleges in the Southern Hemisphere by 2023.”

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"It has been a privilege to be involved with such a foundational civic building within the rebuild of the city. We are extremely proud to have delivered a transformative development that will make a significant contribution to the future Christchurch."

Andrew Barclay

Following a site blessing by Ngāi Tahu in July and the official opening ceremony by the Prime Minister, the Christchurch Justice & Emergency Services Precinct continues to undergo final tenant fit-out in readiness for operations.

Warren and Mahoney architects, working in association with Opus Architecture and Cox Architects from Australia, took the design lead in the development which brings together the Ministry of Justice, NZ Police, Department of Corrections, as well as Fire and Emergency NZ (formerly the NZ Fire Service), Civil Defence and St John. “It’s going to be exciting to see this ambitious project contributing to everyday services of the city. It’s a critical step forward in rebuilding and rethinking the social urban fabric,” says Warren and Mahoney director Andrew Barclay.

The precinct houses 19 courtrooms, judges’ chambers, a state-of-the-art emergency operations centre and car-parking for operational vehicles in an open and user-friendly facility. “Courts and police buildings throughout the 19th and 20th century were densely massed and visually impenetrable but this complex invites the public into its heart,” says Barclay.

The challenge for the design team was to achieve the architectural gravitas required of a civic complex and the attendant stringent security requirements while maintaining an open-natured environment. Keeping certain elements transparent was an important part of the master plan. On every elevation of the Justice Building, there are glassed areas which allow foot traffic and the immediate community to feel some connectivity with the occupants of these spaces. A lane that runs between Lichfield and Tuam streets further enhances the permeability of the site. 

At the centre of the complex is a framed open square with landscaping and informal seating, a courtyard typology that is familiar to the people of Christchurch. Staff and visitors will be able to sit in the sunlight and eat their lunch or meet at the coffee outlet that faces on to this green heart. “It’s part of the design strategy to decrease stress for visitors to the courts environment by offering higher amenity to the public,” says lead architect Nick Warring.

The courtyard allows several points where people can see through to the context of the city. It also acts as a powerful orientation feature for those navigating the complex. In a similar vein, the entrances from the two main street addresses lead into a multi-storey atrium. Filled with natural light, the atrium incorporates a coffee kiosk, waiting zones and customer service areas to provide a welcoming face to the public

The material palette of bronzed aluminium, basalt, limestone, glass and timber lend ‘civic weight’ in a contemporary way. “We chose robust materials to convey permanence and used them to delineate the public realm from the support spaces for critical services,” says Warring.  One example is the first floor of the Justice Building which is bounded by full-height glazing to form a visual break between the darker stone base and the light-coloured limestone that clads the courtrooms on the upper levels of the building. Timber-battened soffits and ceiling panels provide a softer foil to the stone and glass and are also used to delineate the public spaces within the precinct.

Warren and Mahoney and the Ministry of Justice were keen to engage with local iwi on the design strategy and one physical manifestation of this collaboration is the frit-printed glass façade that faces Durham Street. Ngāi Tahu/Ngāi Tūāhuriri artist Lonnie Hutchinson designed an abstracted pattern derived from huia feathers which was digitally printed onto 100 panels of toughened glass. “There was a desire for something that was both meaningful to Ngāi Tahu/Ngāi Tūāhuriri and spoke of the ideals and delivery of justice. The avian theme and reference to the huia feather were recurring elements in the workshop sessions,” explains Warring. The huia feather alludes to an historic alliance formed between Ngāi Tahu and the Crown in 1936. The glass pattern itself provides solar protection for the building occupants and throws subtle shadows into the courtrooms while not completely obscuring the view. Hutchinson also worked closely with Warren and Mahoney to produce a delicately sculpted but striking metal cloak that shrouds the carpark building from the street. “Working alongside the artists was a unique opportunity to impart a hand-crafted touch and bring a sense of soul to the complex,” says Warring.

Seismically, the building is graded to Importance Level 4, particularly pertinent to the Emergency Operations Centre which, through careful design, links seamlessly to the workspaces of each of the six emergency services agencies in the complex. The building’s resilient structure will ensure uninterrupted and standalone function for at least 72 hours should an event occur that renders the city infrastructure inoperable.

All in all, around 2000 people will work in or use the complex each day and with a total floor area of 42,000m(the equivalent of two full-size city blocks), this is the largest, multi-agency government project in New Zealand’s history.

“It has been a privilege to be involved with such a foundational civic building within the rebuild of the city. We are extremely proud to have delivered a transformative development that will make a significant contribution to the future Christchurch,” says Barclay.   

View more about this project here.