Dunedin is situated at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island and is one of the southern-most cities in the world. It is known for it’s stone buildings and cool climate both reminiscent of Edinburgh. The city has a small local population and a large student community. There are no suburban shopping malls so the main street, George Street, remains a very strong retail precinct.
Gascoigne Associates Architects of Auckland carried out the overall design concept, interior and retail design, with detailed design documentation and site inspection work being handled by Parker Warburton Team Architects in Dunedin.
The development was conceived as a set of three buildings, one traditional and two modern, to sit comfortably with the existing urban scale. Retail shops occupy the ground floor with offices and car parking to the upper two levels. The site connects George Street with two adjacent streets and a neighbouring shopping arcade. The brief was for a quality building in keeping with the heritage buildings in the area while providing a weather-protected internal “street”.
The main atrium space is capped by a glass roof and is intended to appear as an existing courtyard rather than a typical suburban-style shopping mall. This space houses shops, a café, food tenancies, a sunken seating/dining area and landscaping with circulation to upper floors.
The “traditional” building is clad in a stone chosen for its similarity to local “Oamaru” stone. The floor is in Basalt to resemble exterior pavement. The curved façade completing the north side of the atrium is covered in Danpalon translucent Polycarbonate with LED lighting behind to activate what would otherwise be a blank firewall. Pedestrian bridges are of a suspended steel structure with glass decking to give a sense of lightness.
The façades to George St took an innovative approach to the local heritage zoning criteria. One is stone clad and of traditional proportions, designed to pay homage to Dunedin’s many beautiful old buildings, whilst the second building is of thoroughly modern construction being of a suspended glass curtain-wall on a steel truss structure. However, where this differs from the norm, is that the glass has a permanent graphic applied depicting the, now demolished, Dunedin Stock Exchange. The concept was to use cutting edge technology to recall the prevailing architectural style of the area.
The client’s brief was not only to create a beautiful, sustainable and financially viable building but also to create a community resource able to house local events and facilities while paying homage to Dunedin’s past yet actively looking to the future.