New Zealand is not the first place you think of when discussing modern architecure. Yet our antipodean friends surprise us all the time with interestin design, and what’s more, sustainable too. Ironbank is located in the Karangahape Road precint, which is a unique and historic area on the edge of Auckland’s CBD and is in a state of urban renewal. The area is dominated by a rich mixture of Victorian and Edwardian historic buildings that have evolved to create a highly charged and intese street edge.
Ironbank was designed by RTA Studio, a practice that reflects the traditions of good architecture with the contemporary twist to past creations and have received more than 2o awards both international and local. Their commitment to challenging, provoking and complementing existing landscapes, spaces and structures contributes to the urban context while taking care of people and their needs. All evident in this project.
The 4,500-m2, six-level mixed-used (retail and office) development has been praised but also criticized by many people. While many see fascinating modern architecture, others commented on the buliding looking like kindergarten day in a shipping yard. I will side with the supporters’ side though. The implementation of the various volumes twisting and turning on top of each other, covered in what looks like Cor-Ten, is very well executed, breaking up the immense volume of the building, and in doing so, making it fit better in the area surrounding it.
The front of the building consists of a glass reinforced concrete facade, like a screen to the site’s interior from the main street in front. The screen is inspired by the historical buildings nearby, in an abstract re-imagining of them. It keeps the same height, leaving the rest of the building towards tha back to rise higher with its “rusting container” approach.
One of the great aspects of Ironbank, apart from the ecologically sustainable design that helped it earn the 5-star As built Greenstar rating from the NZ Green building Council, is the automated car stacker it incorporates, with a robotic system of four-level, two-deep storage wall.