Photographer: John Pettit
The design of this ebullient building on the corner of Karangahape Road and Upper Queen Street is the sum of many influences and corporate and city council requirements.
The National Bank's objective was for the new building to convey its culture of innovation and excellence to its customers. The building was the first to be constructed in Karangahape Road under then-new road facade design guidelines. Specific criteria included an appearance complementary to adjoining buildings, a continuity of facade levels, and a proportion of solid material and voids and glass of at least 50 per cent.
The building faces the historic Westpac Bank diagonally opposite and reflects its gentle curve. The design tackles the concept of a "missing corner", with facades that slide past one another, almost meeting. The exterior wall of the two-and-a-half storey building is a transparent screen, linked with a solid internal wall made of solid plaster on blockwork and timber framing. The roof is corrugated iron on steel purlins, floors are made of prestressed Stahlton planks and the large radial verandahs are supported by purpose-made, structural-steel mullions.
The innovative interior and building designs were part of a nationwide refurbishment of all 180 properties in The National Bank's portfolio.
"An emphasis on the building as a structural shell, with the form of a mollusk, is linked with the meaning of Karangahape: pathway to the shellfish. In pre-colonial times, Karangahape Road was an important route for Maori on their way to collect shellfish."