The studio occupies two floors of the former Mason Bros building at 139 Pakenham Street West which was officially blessed by Ngati Whatua at a morning ceremony.
John Coop, Regional Principal of the Studio, called the move to the refurbished 1920s warehouse a “coming of age moment” for the long-established practice. He believes architecture and design are a vital part of the innovation sector. “Design of the built environment is as much a part of the innovation ecosystem as technology and software," he says.
The double-storey atrium area, complete with informal terrace-style seating and audio-visual capabilities, will be offered as a venue to organisations such as the New Zealand Institute of Architects, the Design Institute, the Committee for Auckland, the Property Council, and schools of Architecture. “There’s an open invitation to use it and we’d like to create an active, exciting events programme where there is always activity and debate,” says Coop.Warren and Mahoney crafted the initial reference design and master plan for the Innovation Precinct and designed the adaptive re-use of the building, developed by Precinct Properties NZ.
The architects were respectful of the maritime heritage of the warehouse (later known as the Southern Spars building) which was once an engineering and ship-building workshop. They retained the envelope of existing red brick and in situ concrete as well as the distinctive saw-tooth roof structure.
The practice also completed the workplace fit-out for the studio which is designed as a showcase of architecture in action. Work stations are located along the glazed perimeter at street level and collaborative work spills out into the atrium so that pedestrians have a visual connection to the occupants. The front door is 20 metres wide.
An internally expressed golden box of frameless glass clad in metallic mesh is lit up at night and glows like an object within the volume.
The locale is symbolic of the changing face of the city and, consequently, a fitting home for a studio that has a significant hand in that process. “Relocating to the Wynyard Quarter puts us at the heart of a precinct where great changes are taking place - and that’s exciting.”
Warren and Mahoney is ambitious about addressing the opportunities that lay ahead for Auckland and that includes housing, transport, the visitor experience and the quality of the CBD. Coop: “We are part of a community of civic, business, and design leadership that is taking the city forward.”
Strategic projects include projects and partnerships with Auckland Airport, the University of Auckland, the New Zealand International Convention Centre and the Commercial Bay development. “Commercial Bay is not just an office building - it is city making,” says Coop. The project integrates and enables transport, augments and enhances the public realm and helps to reinstate Queen Street as a rightful and identifiable built icon of our most populous urban centre.
In a commitment to the housing sector, the practice has also purposefully expanded their spectrum of involvement in residential design right across that market. “We are interested in creating affordable, liveable, buildable homes with socially cohesive outcomes,” says Coop.
Warren and Mahoney, which was founded in 1955, already has studios in Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown and, in 2013, established trans-Tasman studios in Sydney and Melbourne. The Auckland studio is seen as a springboard for global collaboration. In addition to their Australian activity, alliances are already established in Singapore, San Francisco, Canada and Papua New Guinea.
The relocation to the Mason Bros site brings the expanded Auckland team under one roof and into an area where the physical manifestations of innovation in architecture are emerging apace. “The timing is right,” says Coop. “Our work will soon be on the skyline and also at street level. We are excited to be part of the burgeoning identity of Auckland's heart”.
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