Urban Elegance: Integrated Solutions Creating Place and Residence

Nick Gillespie
Structural Practice Leader - New Zealand
Mott MacDonald Group, Auckland

The Customs Residential Project involves the redevelopment of a city central island site into a mixed-use development including: New Zealand’s tallest residential tower at 56 stories (187m); the refurbishment and conversion of an existing 12-story office building into a boutique hotel; and the conservation of the heritage “Britomart Hotel” – dating from 1876.

This prime piece of waterfront real-estate provides a link between the rejuvenated Britomart Precinct to the CBD with ground level laneways providing activation and permeability. The tower massing responds to the urban context with the historic grain of the site reflected in the primary gridlines and a podium with proportions that reflect the adjacent historic streetscape. The gateway site brings residents back to the heart of the city and provides expansive views over the harbor.

The urban design drivers required some elegant engineering solutions, including: An asymmetric elevation with an apex geometry influenced by site shading contours; an external, expressed primary structure mega-frame that allows unobstructed views to the north; an innovative distributed damping concept using viscous toggle-braces; and conservation, refurbishment, demolition, and construction on a confined island site including a five-story basement with a tidal influence

The design outcome is achieved through the close collaboration between developers, architects, engineers, and contractors – all with a far-reaching aspiration to deliver an integrated, elegant development that enhances the neighborhood and improves people’s lives.