The structural upgrade and redevelopment of the mid-1960s Unisys House and 1970s Aurora Chambers will reposition this high profile site for occupation by the Ministry of Social Development.
"Aurora Centre impressively solves the challenge of unifying two disparate existing buildings into a cohesive whole. A new pavilion stretches along the length of The Terrace providing cover at street level and an active edge of hospitality and retail. These, and the spacious, sumptuous new foyer are very transparent from the street, increasing the engagement in both directions. The complexity of resolving the seismic upgrades while joining all the separate floor plates into one workable whole is confidently resolved. This building makes a very positive contribution to the broader urban context while satisfying the demanding needs of a large-scale government ministry."
New Zealand Institute of Architects Local Awards Citation, 2017
This project sees the structural upgrade and redevelopment of two existing buildings – the mid-1960s Unisys House and early 1970s built Aurora Chambers – contained within a site fronting The Terrace and Aurora Terrace.
The redevelopment refines the existing architectural long plan form tower ‘blade’ and elements of the 18 storey Unisys House, and redefines the seven storey Aurora Chambers by adding one additional floor and extending this new height westwards along Aurora Terrace, finishing at the current upper deck car park entry.
A new two storey retail pavilion to The Terrace creates a pedestrian scale extension at the ground and first floors and provides an enhanced entrance lobby amenity and new retail and cafe frontages. This extension also frames the main entry to the multiple subterranean carpark buildings.
Both buildings are clad in high performance window systems. Façades facing The Terrace are intentionally transparent with full height glazing and aligned mullions. In contrast, the new Aurora Terrace façade receives a staggered, randomised mullion/solid infill panel detail to differentiate this form from the adjacent main tower.
The massing of the extended Aurora Chambers is roughly three-quarters of the length of Unisys House, and half of the height. This massing presents a smaller scale façade to the Aurora Terrace street frontage, visually reducing the bulk of Unisys House, and allowing daylight into Aurora Terrace.
The new additional floor has east and west terraces to provide architectural form and relief to the upper edges of the newly clad Aurora House. The public entrance space is improved with increased natural light through the triple-height stepped atrium void, stair and visual connections to the ground floor public space and first and second floor lobbies, and high quality stone finishes typically.
At The Terrace street level, a new first floor glass verandah provides weather and vertical wind protection along the full length of the new pavilion extension. The grounding elements at the base of both buildings will be robust, high quality finish, precast concrete panels that continue the randomised glass cloaking of the north and south façades above, with highly transparent glazing to The Terrace retail and main entrance lobby frontage.