An Article
John Coop


Giving Older Buildings a New Lease of Life

Architects live to build. We love cities, but also draw inspiration from nature – the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. In fact, for architects, the sustainable city is the challenge of our time. And arguably the most fundamental position in environmentally sustainable architecture is to avoid the need to build a new building at all.

It is this position which underlies a highly visible trend in the New Zealand’s post-GFC commercial property market at present: ‘adaptive re-use’ – in other words, giving older building stock a new lease of life. Low-performing assets are upgraded and repositioned, the supply and demand balance is maintained, and asset values are preserved.

In a low-growth economy adaptive re-use can also be positive for the urban fabric of a city. It reduces the risk of degradation due to 'slow space' being unable to recover in the face of growth elsewhere. For a generation, Auckland has had to cope with these empty spaces and buildings. Large sites in Elliot Street and Shortland Street are prime examples and stand empty as non-contributors to Auckland's CBD.

Auckland's exciting and relatively recent recovery as a city we can proudly talk about - and live in - has largely been as a result of adaptive re-use. Some projects have involved clever and highly creative reinventions of heritage 19th century and early 20th century structures - the Britomart and Imperial Lane precincts are great examples.

But these popular  areas are not the only spaces to benefit. Bringing new life to New Zealand's less popular but larger commercial infrastructure of post-war, 1970s and 1980s buildings has now also recently gained momentum. This is work that goes beyond mere refurbishment to more enduring revitalisation. This trend – which is also playing out around the globe as other economies struggle for growth - has massive potential, as so much of our building stock from this period under-performs by today's standards.

Adaptive re-use is a strategy that comes naturally to Warren and Mahoney. Sustainability is a core value of our practice, and we believe it is integral to the achievement of architectural excellence. Our work in refurbishing older building stock not only extends the useful life of a building and thus preserves its value, but it also allows an opportunity for owners to provide modern and environmentally-friendly workspaces for tenants and their staff. Warren and Mahoney’s work on the ANZ Centre and Mainzeal House are two recent examples of why adaptive re-use is truly a prudent commercial strategy for the uncertain economic times we live in.

Case Study 1 – ANZ Centre, Albert Street, Auckland

The complete and substantial revitalisation of the ANZ Centre, originally built in 1991, represents a significant investment in both workplace and public realm design by AMP NZ Office Trust and ANZ Bank.

The project involves the refurbishment of over 22,000m2of office space, an ANZ dedicated commercial meeting suite, and a new fully-glazed entry pavilion and refurbished ground floor lobby. Warren and Mahoney is also working with Boffa Miskell in the redesign and refurbishment of the existing public plaza, creating an enlarged and integrated public realm that takes the adjacent St. Patrick’s Square as a reference point.

The project also delivers on opportunities to achieve environmental benefits through the upgrading of the building’s services throughout. Energy consumption will be substantially reduced through the installation of chilled beams to refurbished office floors, and building occupants are encouraged to walk or cycle to work by the provision of showers and changing facilities in the basement.

Case Study 2 – Mainzeal House, Victoria Street, Auckland

Richina and Mainzeal have also demonstrated leadership and vision in their reinvention of Mainzeal House. Located on an important corner site of the Victoria Quarter precinct and opposite Victoria Park, Mainzeal House is a striking addition to the urban fabric.

The transparent main entry and large-format retail space on the ground floor continues the active edge along the bounding streets. A ribbon-like stone clad entry frames the ground floor gallery lobby space.

The transformation of this building maintains the primary structure. A key feature is a new architectural glazed skin which has been applied to the curved facade of the building. This high technology facade incorporates low iron, highly energy efficient clear glazing and fixed aluminium blades, creating a vertical patterning to the curved facade.

The building’s sustainable elements were designed to achieve a ‘5 Green Star’ office building rating for both the base build and the interior fit-out.

The building seeks to strengthen the urban design principles of the area by creating a high-amenity, mixed-use environment – a welcomed addition to Auckland.

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