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The site of New Zealand's first aluminium manufacturing plant has become the headquarters of Ullrich Aluminium

Historical perspective


Aluminium products are found in one form or another in most new commercial and residential buildings. Uses range from the practical, such as roofing products, window frames and ladders to purely decorative items like patterned aluminium panelling.

Showcasing the use of aluminium products in a variety of innovative ways is the headquarters of Ullrich Aluminium. It has been built on the golf course of two old, but well-known, Auckland aluminium manufacturing plants, Alcan and Capral. The building was project managed by Modus Project Management.

Kim Hamilton of Modus Project Management says Ullrich Aluminium was keen to use as many New Zealand products in the building process as possible. The company executives also wanted the exterior to reflect the crisp, clean look of aluminium. The result, says managing director Gilbert Ullrich, is a facade that displays some of the most modern aluminium products on the market.

"We wanted to construct something that would show architects and specifiers what could be done when aluminium products are used innovatively," he says.

The three-storey building, which houses 8000m2 of manufacturing, export and warehouse sales, administration and head office space, is clad in Ullrich Aluminium's new Ulltraclad extruded aluminium weatherboards. Guaranteed for 25 years, this product carries BRANZ approval for use in industrial, residential and commercial applications and has cyclonic rating. Ulltraclad weatherboards are available in a range of designs and can be powdercoated in any colour from the Dulux powdercoating range. Anodised finishes are also available.


On the front face of the building, the glazed curtain wall system was designed by Ullrich Aluminium's architectural division, using standard aluminium joinery.

Inside, interior designer Nicky Everett worked with Modus to complete the fitout of the building. From the large double-height atrium to the administration offices and boardrooms on the third floor, aluminium has been utilised in many typical and some surprising ways. For example, the walls of the atrium are lined with panels of satin-finished, blue anodised aluminium, providing a simple backdrop for the company's name – which has been cut from blocks of polished, solid aluminium.

Decorative, powdercoated, anodised aluminium panels line the front of the reception desk and the walls of the mezzanine level above. These panels have a Silver Reed directional pattern embossed on them, helping to create a Pacific theme for the reception and atrium. Strips of the same product add a decorative detail to the powdercoated aluminium columns supporting the mezzanine floor. These decorative panels are available in various other colours, patterns and finishes.

A mobile of Pacific ferns, cut from powdercoated, anodised aluminium sheets is another custom-designed, decorative feature of the atrium.

National sales manager for Ullrich Aluminium Brian Kendrick says the mobile is an interesting example of what can be created when aluminium sheeting is shaped using modern cutting machinery.

Rich, interesting detailing continues through the building. In the boardroom, panels of Ullrich's Woven Wall System in a standard silver pattern cover one wall.

"The Woven Wall System is often applied to walls for its acoustic and decorative properties, but here we took it one step further and lit the panels from behind to create an unusual effect," says Kendrick.

Subtle trim detailing on the furniture in the boardroom includes aluminium legs on the chairs, and strips of aluminium around the large meeting table. For smaller groups, this table can be separated into four units.

The use of aluminium is not restricted to the public and working areas of the building, however. It is even found in bathrooms throughout the building.

Ullrich Aluminium supplied product to aluminium manufacturer Kermac Industries so it could construct the partitioning for the toilets cubicles.

Kermac makes a standard range of toilet partitioning and wall lining systems, shower partitions and cubicles, shop changing cubicles and hardware accessories. The company also works with architects and designers to produce one-off designs.

Director Kerry McAuliffe says the company's designers strive to think outside the square and come up with innovative design solutions.

"Our focus is on quality and service as well as meeting the precise needs of architects and specifiers," he says.

For more information on toilet partitioning systems, contact Kermac Industries, Unit I, 9 Lady Ruby Drive, East Tamaki, Auckland, phone (09) 273 1524, fax (09) 273 1525. Email: .

For more information on Ullrich Aluminium or its products, contact the company at 118 Wiri Station Rd, Manukau, Auckland, phone (09) 262 6262, fax (09) 262 6265. Email: .

First published date: 25 March 2005

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