Continued from Part 2.

The Hotel Britomart in Auckland sets a new benchmark in facade design with Cheshire Architects combining faultless teamwork with brick inlay to realise their design for the 11-storey full brick facade.

A first for New Zealand, the full brick facade in a well-considered, singular palette makes the hotel prominently stand out on the Auckland CBD skyline.

A custom, slimline grey brick tile blend is paired with glazed, frameless tessellated windows, setting the scene for what’s inside, while giving a nod to the past and the future.

Britomart is a heritage precinct that’s undergone significant urban regeneration in the 15 years since its purchase by Cooper and Co. So it’s imperative that anything new to the precinct enriches the old. 

“Auckland hasn’t got a long history, so to have a precinct where surrounding buildings are all 120 years old is rare, and we really wanted to respect that. Anything that’s added to Britomart must enhance the existing buildings – that relationship is very important,” remarks Dajiang Tai, principal, Cheshire Architects.

Peter Robertson’s suggestion of custom Krause bricks to be adapted to brick inlay by Robertson Facade Systems hit the mark for Cheshire Architects, as they spoke well to the heritage buildings.

“We found with the handcrafted brick we could put something in that’s contemporary and up there with the design language of now, but still felt like it had a heritage connection,” architect Tom Webster, Cheshire Architects explained.

The custom bricks give the facade multiple layers of detail. From a distance, the facade has a monotone appearance; however, on approach, the brickwork is visible, complete with the beautiful imperfections of a handcrafted finish.

“We like the imperfect quality of Krause bricks, and the proportion is unique, almost like a Roman brick, not a commercial brick. But, the most attractive thing is that it’s hard to replicate that brick,” Dajiang added.

Cheshire Architects’ design intent was to create an abstract facade where you look at the building and can’t make out the number of floors. So, in beautiful contrast to the bricks, frameless glass windows reference the future and reflect the myriad contemporary glass skyscrapers throughout Auckland.

In line with the hotel’s custom fit design, these frameless windows aren’t off the shelf. Cheshire Architects designed the profile for the windows and extruded them to suit the brick inlay system and the building’s design intent, creating a beautiful patchwork of windows across the facade.

Together, the custom bricks and windows create a unique, breathtaking display. “The flushed, glazed window system is a complete contrast to the bricks, it’s like handmade and machine made. It’s something we play with a lot and it’s definitely interesting,” says Dajiang.

The customised design continues inside with natural, earthy elements that describe the experience of a New Zealand hotel stay. In addition to timber panelled walls in each room, a bluestone boulder sits below a dried clay wall complete with cracks in the laneway lobby, both sourced locally. 

In yet another first, The Hotel Britomart is New Zealand’s greenest hotel – the first to achieve a 5 Star Green Star rating from the New Zealand Green Building Council.

But what really sets The Hotel Britomart apart is the total craft of architecture that’s apparent in every detail. “Being a good building in the 21st century, just having good architecture isn’t enough – it’s the craft of the experience that’s most important – and if there is a gap in the experience that makes the experience lacking or deteriorates, the building will feel fake,” Dajiang remarks.

The Hotel Britomart is spectacular, both inside and out – a definite, unified language that tells a story across the design, from the handcrafted Krause brick tiles, custom made door handles and custom lighting, right down to the uniforms and linen used throughout. The entire team is to be congratulated for delivering a unique design that will no doubt achieve, and rightfully deserve, worldwide acclaim.

Photographer: Sam Hartnett | Petra Leary (aerials)