Story by Colleen Hawkes
Photography by Jamie Cobeldick
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Former dark, enclosed warehouse now showcase for Blum
Adaptive re-use is transforming brownfield sites, but more often than not, a finished building bears no resemblance to what went before.
The new Blum headquarters in Avondale, Auckland, designed by architect Simon Williams of WA Architecture, occupies a building that was formerly a warehouse. Part of the structure is still used as a distribution warehouse, but that is where any similarity ends. Williams says the building was completely gutted, relined and reclad to provide the world-class showroom, offices and distribution centre required by the client company – a specialist in high-quality kitchen hardware.
"This building is at the rear of the site acquired by Blum – two other companies now occupy new premises at the front," he says. "To give the Blum showroom a street presence and to open up the access to the rear, a number of existing buildings were demolished. We also added a suspended, zinc-clad blade wall that signals the showroom entry and screens neighbouring buildings."
To further define the entry, the architect wrapped a large inverted L-shaped canopy across the top of the glazed showroom, creating a timber-lined portico. The square-edged form is echoed by a cantilevered brise soleil on the glazed facade. The suspended designer room above the entry references the company's business – it is reminiscent of an open drawer.
"On the opposite side of the room, there is another projecting horizontal window looking down into the showroom. This also resembles a drawer that appears to pull out of the box, which itself is suspended within the double-height void."
The architect says the entire building was designed to provide an interactive environment where Blum could engage with clients, designers, architects and tradespeople.
"The company wanted to provide a place where all these people could come together and interact. The designers' room is used by architects and designers to meet with clients and discuss projects and hardware options. The showroom, which runs the full length of the building, is not only overlooked by the designers' room, but also by the offices, so staff are always visually connected with their product and customers."
Blum hardware is displayed within white cabinets and there are three display kitchens equipped with the latest Blum technology. There is also a test-drive kitchen off the showroom, with fully loaded, modular units on castors. Clients can arrange the modules to replicated a custom kitchen design. Another room is used for training and workshops.
Unlike the original warehouse, the building has a strong connection with the outdoors. Glazed doors at one end of the showroom open to a large terrace, which is ideal for entertaining clients or for staff functions. The view takes in a mangrove plantation, the harbour and the city in the distance. Large aluminium louvres on the exterior of the building screen the sun at key times of the day, but are positioned so that they don't compromise the view.
Bright orange accents – the Blum corporate colour – enliven the showroom, offices, staff kitchen and meeting rooms.
Colour is also a key feature of the distribution warehouse, which is regularly visited by cabinetmakers and other tradespeople. Here, beams are painted bright orange and steel shelving units are powdercoated in blue and orange.
First published date: 30 June 2012
More news from Trends
|Location||Blum (NZ), Auckland|
|Architect||Simon Williams NZIA, WA Architecture, Auckland|
|Civil engineer||Day Consultants|
|Mechanical and electrical engineer||Pacific Consultants; Kern Electrical|
|Fire consultant||MacDonald Barnett|
|Main contractor and project manager||Q Construction|
|Cladding||Precast concrete from Nauhria Precast and Stahlton; aluminium cladding from Symonite New Zealand; Eurotray cladding from Metal Design Systems|
|Glazing||Framerite Installations; Euroglass; National Glass|
|Flooring||Jacobsen carpet tiles; timber from Natural Timber Floors|
|Metal stairs||Ashworth & Taylor|