The Mist & The Trees

June 18 2024

If you ever walk, cycle or drive along Great North Road, you may have noticed the building with sloping sides on the corner of Grey Lynn’s Scanlan Street. It’s a somewhat brutalist, of-its-time expression and, not only was it outmoded aesthetically, but it needed seismic upgrading. Read more about RTA Studio’s solution…

The greenest building is the one already built has become a worldwide mantra for architects and clients who are serious about sustainability. Property owners, Samson Corporation, understand the environmental impact of their portfolio. Embedded in their approach since 2009 is the idea to protect city heritage while providing modern, flexible working environments that embrace green-conscious credentials.

The project at 137 Great North Road follows these principles. The existing four-level building, which contains two levels of parking and two levels of office space, will be reinterpreted by retaining the concrete framework (including those angled columns) but the floorplate will be extended past the edges to the boundary to straighten out the sides. Then an extra floor will be added to maximise views and tenancy rate-of-return.

Retail will enjoy superb street presence on the ground floor while the upper floors access filtered viewshafts through the branches of a plane tree east to the sacred Maungawhau/Mt Eden and an unfettered sightline west to the Waitematā.

Due to the building’s elevated position on the ridgeline, RTA Studio developed the design concept of misty cloud hovering around the treetops, an idea which will be explored in a custom-designed aluminium screen. This façade, perforated with ‘droplets’ that run down its face, will provide solar control to the extensive glazing of the upper levels. To the west, on the new fifth level, a balcony is a place for occupants to retreat and socialise with Friday drinks.

Internally, materials will include recycled timber and, in line with all projects by Samson Corporation, metrics around the avoided carbon and embodied carbon of this project target a 5-Star Green Star rating as assessed by the New Zealand Green Building Council. The building, which has the working title of ‘Mist’, but is due to be gifted a name by mana whenua, will slot into this smart corridor where there are improvements planned to upgrade cycle routes and walkability. This misty by name corner landmark is a solid investment in a more planet-friendly future.