Text description provided by the architects. The building sits on a steep and constrained site. It’s entered off Titirangi Road, with the galleries stacked up to a height that replicates the scale and proportions of Lopdell House next door. One level down are the education facilities with their own gallery, further down are workshops and storage, and finally the truck dock and parking at lower ground level.
An exterior staircase runs between the buildings, linking carpark to Street. Above, a glazed bridge links the gallery staff to their offices in Lopdell House, while an upper bridge is a continuation of the gallery onto the roof terrace (a sculpture court or event space).
The exterior is clad in pre-coated aluminium sheets. The main almond shaped stair was placed near the entry corner of the building - as a nod to the same arrangement found in Lopdell House. On the back we clipped a glass-sheathed second stair - like a 19th Century fire escape. So, ascending this, you leave the internal world of galleries and look out over bush to the Manukau harbour.
The interior is a mixture of smooth white gallery walls with the solid central core emphasised with unpainted plaster.
Light is diffused into high spaces- as in the big gallery with the fabric lantern, where the ceiling bends into walls. Here, the rooflight has been reflected and diffused enough to softly and evenly light the walls on which art will hang. The control of natural light is given a different form in each of the 5 gallery spaces. The gallery is renowned for its craft and pottery, so the gallery spaces vary in scale, accommodating a range of exhibitions.
These internal spaces are linked to give frequent glimpses from one to the other - to animate the work on display and reveal visitors to one another.
Lopdell House is a 5 storey structure built in 1930 as the “Titirangi Hotel” (architect: William Bloomfield). In recent years it has become an important community focus, housing the Titirangi Theatre, and Lopdell House Art Gallery and small businesses.
The brief was to use the mandatory seismic upgrade of the Category 1 heritage building, as an opportunity to restore its original design intention while allowing future uses. This included improving the gallery spaces to meet international art lending requirements, which was in direct conflict with the layout of Lopdell House. Ceiling heights are too low and windows punctuate each wall. We proposed instead to re-house the Gallery in a separate building alongside (Te Uru Contemporary Gallery).
The new building is linked to the old by bridges to the upper- level offices, and to a reconstructed roof terrace.