The project is spatially courageous, reinventing the expected commercial paradigm in favour of a bespoke and spatially fluid approach befitting the unique opportunity of the building.
The Mason Bros project involves the adaptive reuse of a character warehouse space into a three storey commercial development as part of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct. The conceptual approach is to suspend a highly reflective glazed object within the existing volume (separated spatially from the brick and concrete enclosure on three sides), creating a strong formal and material contrast while amplifying the presence of the existing fabric.
The former character of the warehouse is retained with the dramatic saw tooth roof form dropping south light into a major 60m long internal lane which acts as the circulatory system of the building and provides an internal pedestrian link at a masterplan level. An intentional spatial ambiguity is created within the lane through the use of highly reflective gold glazing which blurs the relationship between new and old.
The project delivers approximately 5700m2 of commercial floorspace over three levels with lower and upper levels connected via triple height spaces and an upper level balustrade condition. The project is spatially courageous, reinventing the expected commercial paradigm in favour of a bespoke and spatially fluid approach befitting the unique opportunity of the building.
The building addresses public lanes on all frontages, with high levels of operability enabling strong activation of these urban edges. The character building fabric is retained, punctuated by contemporary glazing elements which reveal the mysterious internal object inhabiting the carapace of the former warehouse. The retention of the character building is critical at a masterplan level, creating an authentic link to the industrial legacy of the site, while heavily influencing the architectural composition of adjacent buildings.
The building is designed in line with the Wynyard Quarter Sustainability Framework. In 2019, Mason Bros. was awarded both a 6 Green Star rating and a 5 Star NABERSNZ rating, New Zealand's first to achieve the highest possible rating for environmental impact from the New Zealand Green Building Council.
This complex project entailed the reconciliation of several design imperatives: preserving and seismically strengthening a large character warehouse; converting the building to house several levels of fluid workspaces and different tenancies while clearly expressing the heritage structure; and acknowledging the precinct masterplan and anticipating development in the environs of the building. The insertion of a long, suspended, reflective box of workspaces allowing for the preservation and revelation of the historic ‘container’, the passage of a generous laneway along the length of the building, and the admission of natural light through the retained sawtooth roof combine to produce a spacious, user-friendly and highly textural environment.
- New Zealand Institute of Architects National Awards Citation, 2017