A full brick facade floating on a glass podium is a standout feature on The Hotel Britomart in Auckland, enabled by the brick inlay system from Robertson Facade Systems.

Led by a phenomenal team, The Hotel Britomart delivers a total architectural experience that pushes every boundary, with exceptional results. The high calibre team comprises Cooper and Co (developers), Cheshire Architects, Mott MacDonald (engineers), Holmes Solutions (seismic testing), Lukas Design (interiors) and Bracewell Construction.

Britomart is Auckland’s hospitality and retail precinct on the waterfront, and includes a hotel building within it. However, The Hotel Britomart is nothing like your typical hotel because its design and construction follow no trends. On the other hand, it sets new benchmarks in architecture and construction.

“For every project, we try to do something new for the first time. We will always have the feeling that something might not work. However, if you’ve done enough homework and enough testing, you know it will work,” says Dajiang Tai, principal, Cheshire Architects.

There is no grand entrance and lobby, a huge gym, spa, restaurant or retail outlet. The Hotel Britomart is simply a place to sleep, with its 99 rooms and five suites offering a calm sanctuary for guests. While a simple laneway serves as its entrance and lobby, guests experience the hotel as a precinct, and are encouraged to venture out of the building to its plant-lined streets, historic warehouses, retail shops, restaurants and cafes.

Everything at The Hotel Britomart is custom fit for purpose, beginning with the façade.

The hotel’s full brick facade floating on a glass podium is a rare sight in New Zealand. Most newly built buildings are full glass, or have a more solid podium on the lower levels. There are no precast brick panel systems in New Zealand - it’s really expensive and difficult to achieve due to building code requirements for seismic resilience and the engineering involved.

“We knew we wanted to build a brick building to speak to the heritage area of Britomart, but we didn’t know how we could build one that’s 10 storeys tall. I had some experience with brick inlay systems from working in England, so I did some research and talked to Peter Robertson at Robertson Façade Systems about it,” explains Tom Webster, architect, Cheshire Architects.

This led to a thoughtful collaboration between Cheshire Architects, Holmes Solutions and Mott MacDonald, enabled by brick inlay, Robertson Façade Systems’ robust and proven façade solution.

It’s the first time brick inlay has been used in New Zealand, and with remarkable results. However, a rigorous process went into making it happen, including thorough testing to prove it could meet New Zealand’s stringent seismic requirements.

So, stay tuned over the next two weeks as we bring you further details of that testing and how this dedicated team worked tirelessly to bring their dream for The Hotel Britomart brick façade, and its interior design, to spectacular life. 

Photographer: Sam Hartnett, Petra Leary (aerials)