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Look both ways – The Crossing, Highbrook Business Park

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Highbrook town centre designed by Jasmax

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Business parks are frequently dominated by big box buildings that accommodate manufacturing operations and warehouse facilities, with not a lot of thought given to the needs of the people who work, visit and travel through these precincts on a regular basis.

With the Highbrook Business Park development in Auckland, Goodman has changed all this. Because the company is the sole developer, it has been able to put into practice its original vision of a town centre that would provide a range of services for people working in the area – from bars, cafés and supermarkets to banks, hotel accommodation and conference facilities.

Architect Andy Anderson of Jasmax, the firm contracted to create the town centre for Highbrook, says Goodman could also see a demand for corporate office facilities.

"There are a lot of head offices at Highbrook, so it makes sense to provide for these," he says. "And with serviced apartment and conference facilities on hand, there is no need for out-of-town visitors to have to head into town at the end of the day.

"The town centre was always intended to be the heart of Highbrook, a place that would bring people together, not just for business, but also socially – at lunchtime and after work. For this reason, a central, open-air plaza with retail facilities was essential."

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The Jasmax plan groups five buildings around a plaza on the wedge-shaped site. At this stage, three of the buildings are completed – the curved Light Horse building that's also home to Goodman, the Wynyard Wood-LG office building, and the Quest serviced apartments hotel.

"The town centre sits at the intersection of a number of different roads, or axes," says Anderson. "This puts it in a highly accessible location – more so than the original site that was planned, which was closer to the water. However, the views to the water and Mt Wellington in the distance are important, so we have created axes within the centre to maintain these key sightlines.

"At the same time, however, the proximity of the buildings and the relatively narrow width of the plaza ensure the centre has an inviting intimacy. Restricting the width of the outdoor areas helps to activate the area as well, adding a level of intensity. The spaces between the buildings are just as important as the buildings themselves."

Jasmax also used the topography of the site to create a pedestrian-friendly environment. Because the site has a 4m drop from one side to the other, it was relatively easy to introduce undercroft parking, and conceal essential services.

"Highbrook itself has a rolling topography, so we have echoed this in the undulating contours of the plaza landscape – curved forms in the wood bench seats and the paving add visual interest."

Other key features of the plaza include large ETFE shade canopies that have a distinctive, sculptural form. The canopies were designed to provide shelter and shade without blocking too much of the natural light.

"The Light Horse bar is open to the outdoors, and patrons always like to sit outside," says Anderson. "There is even an outdoor fireplace."

The plaza is also sheltered by the position of the Quest Hotel, which blocks the cooler southwesterly winds. And the buildings have been sited so they don't block the direct sun in the plaza at lunchtime.

Each of the three buildings has its own defining aesthetic. The Light Horse building, with the Goodman management offices on the upper levels, is wrapped in a mix of graduated fritted and transparent glass, with curved ends.

"With its expansive, illuminated gazing, this building is a beacon that captures the attention of people travelling along Highbrook Drive," says Anderson. "It's also the anchor building with the Light Horse Bar, the largest F&B tenancy."

The Quest Hotel building, which incorporates a podium with conference facilities, is the first stage of a two-part hotel development. Jasmax referenced the basalt rock within the local landscape in the facade treatment.

"Each face of the building features patterned precast concrete panels composed of exposed aggregate, in two tones of grey," says Anderson. "This was a very simple, yet effective way to get a sense of movement into the panels. It helps to break down the perceived scale of the building. Similar panels wrap the entire podium."

The third structure is the Wynyard Wood-LG office building. White precast concrete cladding is reminiscent of clouds – the edges of the panels appear to break away in places to form hexagonal shapes on the exterior.

"The hexagonal forms are actually 3-D solar screens made from aluminium," says Anderson. "The shades screen the sun, but from inside the building, the hexagonal shapes don't obstruct the view. The arrangement of the hexagons is determined by the orientation of each facade and the subsequent need for shade, but we have kept the corners of the building more open. In other words, the panels are clustered more towards the centre of each facade."

Passive design is just one of the sustainable features of the project. Anderson says all the buildings incorporate environmentally friendly design principles, as does every project by Jasmax.

"Sustainable design helps to determine every decision as a matter of course," he says. "This project also reflects a very holistic approach to design. It responds to the bigger masterplan for Highbrook, which is all about improved connections for both businesses and people."

First published date: 19 December 2013

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Credit List

Project The Crossing, Highbrook, Auckland
Client Highbrook Development Limited
Architect Jasmax, Auckland – principal Andy Anderson; with architects Neil Martin, James Whetter, Adele King and Mark Graham
Hotel fit-out interior design CDA Architecture
Structural engineer Holmes Consulting Mechanical engineer Thurston Consulting
Electrical engineer ECS
Hydraulic engineer Hydraulic Services Consultants
Quantity surveyor BQH
Project manager RCP
Construction company Dominion Constructors
Glazing and glass balustrades Glass Projects
Aluminium cladding, joinery and automatic doors Thermosash
Roofing Steel Roofing
Roller doors Metalbilt
Reinforcing steel Millier Reinforcing
Precast concrete Nauhria; Stresscrete
ETFE canopy Structurflex
Signage Design Signwriters
Landscaping Mace Contractors
Fire protection Fire Security Services
Air conditioning Chillex Services