02 June 2016

Open Perspectives: Working with Andrew Barclay

“The expression of New Zealand culture was very much in our minds when we designed the building.” That’s how Andrew Barclay sums up the approach of architects Warren and Mahoney to designing what will be the biggest public space in New Zealand.

Andrew is the Design Director of the NZICC and says the architects focused on three aspects. “What is the nature of the New Zealander; what is the nature of the New Zealand landscape and what is the nature of Auckland moving forward as a city?” All align around informality and openness.

"We have a particular quality of light and we have a particular quality of materials here.” And the design team have made full use of New Zealand’s glorious natural light. “Through the exterior skin and architecture of the atrium, by exposing the exhibition hall to the street and through the use of materials, we were able to express the particular New Zealand character. These all provided different avenues to reinforce the building’s sense of place."

One of the essential characteristics of the building we really wanted to capture was that it would have a day and night life. So we wanted the plenary hall on top to be transparent by day and illuminated by night.” Andrew points out that the design is fundamentally different from every other convention centre in the world. For a start, the NZICC itself is very urban — it’s in the centre of the city.

"This building needed to have a much more serious social and urban design agenda than perhaps most other convention centres need to concern themselves with. “And with that regard we’ve made it very transparent. Most centres are closed black boxes with a skirt of public space to make them accessible."

Andrew emphasises the uniqueness of the NZICC through its connection with the laneway and to Hobson and Nelson Streets.“Unlike any other convention centre I’ve ever been to, you can interact with the building itself, whether or not you’re involved in any convention centre activity.”