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Dressed to impress – the polite facade on the front of the new Ironbank building on Auckland's K Road belies the grittier urban design facing the service lane at the rear

Street smart


New developments in built-up areas provide an opportunity to improve on what went before, but they can also be designed to acknowledge the historical significance of an urban precinct.

In developing the new Ironbank commercial building on Auckland's Karangahape Rd, Samson Corporation took the opportunity to create New Zealand's first building with a 5-Star Green Star Office As Built rating. But sustainability wasn't the only driver for the design. Samson general manager Marco Creemers says the company also wanted an iconic office building with a central courtyard and ground-floor retail space.

Architect Richard Naish of RTA Studio says the 9600m2 building was designed to address the historic Victorian and Edwardian facades along Karangahape Rd, and the undeveloped, haphazard architecture of the service lane at the rear.

"The building was conceived as a manifestation of a cross contamination of the two contrasting street conditions," Naish says. "While the high street frontage is concerned with notions of presentation, display, etiquette and heritage, the service lane is more about servicing, delivery, disorder and utility."

Naish says the building has a glass fibre-reinforced concrete (GRC) facade facing the high street, which acts as a veil screening the development behind.


"The screen is an abstraction of the historical facades on either side. Behind this, we sought to fragment the building form to alleviate the potential mass associated with a medium-sized office building."

Naish says five towers of erratically stacked ‘boxes' are arranged around a plaza, with a through-site pedestrian link.

"Vertical fragmentation articulates the composition of the stacked office and retail spaces, which are gathered into a socially sustainable working community."

All the retail and office space in Ironbank is naturally ventilated. Other sustainable design features include low-E glass, night purging, solar water heating, minimal PVC content, rainwater harvesting, low-energy light fittings, exposed thermal mass and mechanical car stacking in the basement car pit.

For more information, contact Samson Corporation, phone (09) 522 2636; RTA Studio, phone (09) 630 3101. Or visit the .

First published date: 17 March 2010

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