Historic warehouse beautifully repurposed and renovated as green offices in Auckland, New Zealand’s revitalized innovation district

In Auckland, New Zealand‘s recently-revitalized Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct, the Mason Bros project has become the newest addtion to that revitalizing momentum. It comprises the adaptive reuse of a historic 1920s warehouse into a three-story commercial redevelopment.

Local architects Warren and Mahoney crafted the initial reference design and masterplan for the Innovation Precinct, and designed the adaptive re-use of the Mason Bros warehouse for the developers, Precinct Properties NZ.

The maritime heritage of the two-story character building, once an engineering and ship-building workshop, is still evident in the envelope of existing red brick as well as the distinctive sawtooth roof structure.

The building is designed in line with the Wynyard Quarter Sustainability Framework, and has been awarded a Green Star 6-Star built rating; one of just four of its kind in New Zealand.

The conceptual approach is to suspend a highly reflective glazed object within the existing volume (separated spatially from the brick and concrete enclosure on three sides), creating a strong formal and material contrast while amplifying the presence of the existing fabric.

The former character of the warehouse is retained with the dramatic sawtooth roof form dropping southern light into a major 60-meter-long internal lane which acts as the circulatory system of the building and provides an internal pedestrian link at a masterplan level. An intentional spatial ambiguity is created within the lane through the use of highly reflective gold glazing which blurs the relationship between new and old.

The project delivers approximately 5700 square meters of commercial floorspace over three levels, with lower and upper levels connected via triple height spaces and an upper level balustrade condition. The project is spatially courageous, reinventing the expected commercial paradigm in favor of a customized and and spatially-fluid approach befitting the unique opportunity of the building.

The building addresses public lanes on all frontages, with high levels of operability enabling strong activation of these urban edges. The character building fabric is retained, punctuated by contemporary glazing elements which reveal the mysterious internal object inhabiting the carapace of the former warehouse.

The retention of the building’s historic character was critical at a masterplan level, creating an authentic link to the industrial legacy of the site, while heavily influencing the architectural composition of adjacent buildings.

The atrium serves as a space to host events; up to 80 people can be seated on the bleacher seats, while around 40 more can stand around the upper level to view a projector screen on the upper wall for large-scale presentations.

Materials are kept simple, with blackened steel – a reference to the roots of the building – used on the reception desk and the cladding of the ground floor meeting room, both visible from the laneway.

The concrete floor was poured and ground, and a concrete tone carpet was chosen for the work areas beyond. Warmth is brought in through pops of color in the furniture and through the extensive use of timber.

All images courtesy of Warren and Mahoney.

See Warren and Mahoney website.

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