The NZI Centre’s core building concept was inspired by the socially sustainable and environmentally conscious values of the building occupant.
The responsive forms that wrap and enclose act as an exo-skeleton, complimenting the fit-out philosophy of an ‘organisation as living entity’ with the major interior elements becoming delicate and considered insertions sitting within, resting above and softly reaching for the building fabric and framework, creating a sense of balance and harmony.
Timber is used to highlight important insertions within the architecture. It is used to add warmth to the white base building exoskeleton. As the base building is raw and quite cold, it was important that the insertions had a tactility that lent the warmth to the space. The timber is located in places that are able to be touched by the occupier appealing to the haptic as well as the visual senses.
Tasmanian Oak was chosen because of the natural texture of the colour tones. It is made up of the three species (Eucalyptus delegatensis, E. obliqua & E. regnans) which gives the timber a diversity which adds to the variation and richness. It was felt the combination of these colours resembled (despite its origin) a very “New Zealand” aesthetic, the pink and warm brown resembling some New Zealand native timbers and the silvery/grey the weathered timbers of baches. This helping to reinforce NZI as one of the oldest brands in New Zealand.
With over 700 occupants, timber has been used to assert the spaces that are for everyone. It warmly invites everyone in the company to use the stairs, the atrium meeting rooms, the heritage space, and the Lilli-pad breakout spaces. Tactility is reinforced with the oversized Tasmanian Oak handrail to the atrium balustrade as well as the stair guide.
Timber Cladding – Tasmainian Oak veneer was used on Medium Density Fibreboard with low fuming formaldehyde emissions to meeting rooms around the atrium edge. The panels are embellished with a custom graduated perforation to achieve the strict acoustic needs of the atrium.
The stairs are wrapped in Tasmanian oak, with their different colour tones adding texture ensuring a natural non-homogenous aesthetic. The timber battens were cut into parallelograms to fit with the slope of the stair and meet the battons on the landings seamlessly. The ends of the parrallelagrams are seen through the glass balustrades that line the inside of the stairs allowing the user to get a glimpse of the construction of the stair lining. There are 1,412 separate timber battens used on the underside of the stair – all hand pinned into the correct location.
Undulating battens float off the floor and add another layer of texture to the atrium. This was conceived as a flowing timber curtain what wraps the face of the atrium edge. Glass faced boxes with hidden locking are inserted into the wall to house IAG’s heritage items. The heritage wall and the timber batten wall behind the public café enclose the activities behind without giving an overly solid block to the public. These also add to the acoustic performance needed around the atrium perimeter.
In contrast to 14 tons of 20mm thick mild steel exterior of the entry, the inside is lined with warm and inviting timber battens. This juxtapositions was important to provide clues to the sustainable and human nature of the environment within, giving an introduction to the softening nature of the timber within.
Winner – Interior Fit Out
NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2009