Premier New Zealand car dealership The Giltrap Group needed their new 119 Great North Road, Auckland Headquarters to balance beauty and function – to balance their position at the “forefront of the end-to-end car sales experience” while showcasing theirinvestment in “enhanced engineering and innovation through better design”. Their proposed mixed-use space needed to hero Bentley, Lamborghini and Aston Martin’s ‘star-cars’ in a full-service corporate, warehouse, servicing and showroom build not yet seen in the New Zealand automotive industry. Nine levels needed to connect in one luxurious, customer-focused and highly-functional build.
The design of this retail space responds with flair to difficult and unique challenges. First, is the cohabitation of three strong brands with potentially competing products within a single space. Second, is the desire to challenge the car dealership typology and its corresponding workplace culture to suit the product. Third, is the need to convince global brands to display their opulent vehicles in a way that is suited to New Zealand audiences.
The architects put forward a minimalist aesthetic that heroed car brands first, the building second. Cars are displayed for everyone – not just customers, but also to passers-by. This level of interaction is taken a step further with the inclusion of a public café inside the main entrance, making the building and enjoyment of the cars open to all.
A double-storey in-situ concrete truss is at the core of the structure, developed to ensure a completely free glazed street frontage. Resisting both gravity and lateral loading, the truss visually connects the mixed-use building’s nine floors. Braced at showroom levels using a line of V-columns back from the main façade offers large, clear floor plates, while showroom levels protrude to create a glazed enclosure for each of the three brands. The effect is like a ‘jewellery box’, presenting the unique cars in a way that is befitting their status.
Due to the low height clearance of the cars and the practical length of the site, curved driving ramps connect each floor in a sine wave curve, allowing clients to drive in with the old, drive out with the new.
A highly curated mechanics workshop inside a glass-clad operating theatre creates a new platform on which to celebrate the engineering of the vehicles and the people tasked with maintaining them. Bringing executive teams down into lower-level meeting spaces and pushing the envelope of the building close to the street were uncommon and successful moves in delivering a unique space. Collaboration with Targetti New Zealand led to the development of a multi-task light, a bespoke, centralised system controlling power, data, sprinklers and lighting in one linear fitting inspired by under-car-hood engineering.
The 119 Great North Road building is the first building of its type to achieve a 5-Star Green Star Design rating. The project team has worked closely with the New Zealand Green Building Council to develop a custom tool tailored to the mix of uses within the project.
Michael Giltrap, Group Joint Managing Director, says the completed design was way beyond what the company had ever anticipated. “We had high expectations, but we were blown away by it. It’s a great place for customers. (The architects) have 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.”