The light fan­tas­tic

A new build­ing adds a jolt of colour to the cityscape

Paper Boy - - Urbanism -

It’s a pretty undis­tin­guished struc­ture by day, but by night, the new Haka Ho­tel on Day Street ( just off Karanga­hape Road) takes on a whole new per­son­al­ity. The build­ing (above) is owned by Andy Davies, the de­vel­oper be­hind Pon­sonby Cen­tral, and de­signed by ar­chi­tect Jan Ber­nau. Here, Ber­nau chats about how they lit up the build­ing.

Tell us about the colours used. The pink path was some­thing we tried to re­late to with the pas­tel colours (above left), be­cause you can see the build­ing from there. Then we’ve got one that is a bit more com­pli­cated, based on Mon­drian, the painter (above right). That re­lates to the ran­dom­ness of the tetris façade dur­ing the day. It was im­por­tant it didn’t look like a bor­dello, too colour­ful or too in your face. We tried to use colour in a sub­tle way but still some­thing that has pres­ence.

What do you think it will add to the cityscape of Auck­land?

It’s in such a key po­si­tion. You can see [the ho­tel] from all the mo­tor­ways, even the Har­bour Bridge. We just wanted to make some­thing for peo­ple to en­joy and make a build­ing that has some­thing to of­fer at night.

What is the tech­nol­ogy be­hind it? They’re all LEDS and all wifi con­trolled. Ev­ery bal­cony is on in­di­vid­ual colour and pro­gram­ming. I think we have 90 bal­conies roughly and there’s a cen­tral pro­cess­ing unit where they can be pro­grammed. We wanted the LED strips to be in­vis­i­ble – re­cessed – so they look like part of the deck­ing tim­ber and com­pletely dis­ap­pear. That was quite im­por­tant to us so that you don’t have some ugly flood­lights hang­ing some­where.

Why in­cor­po­rate this as­pect into the ar­chi­tec­ture?

For eco­nom­i­cal rea­sons, we had to make the most of the site and max­imise space, so that didn’t leave us too much free­dom. We wanted to make a state­ment ar­chi­tec­turally with these lights dur­ing the night. Es­pe­cially since when you look around Auck­land at night, the nightlife’s not the great­est and there’s not much light hap­pen­ing. It’s nice to have a splash of colour in there – es­pe­cially with Mon­drian, there’s a bit of a story be­hind it, some­thing to re­late to.

Is it some­thing you’ve done be­fore in your ar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice?

No. We al­ways use light wher­ever we can but never to this ex­tent. We were told it was quite ex­pen­sive and not pos­si­ble [be­cause] we wanted it to be com­pletely flex­i­ble, but Jackie Wu from Lu­men­works made it hap­pen. He turned it into re­al­ity. It’s amaz­ing how much light the LEDS put out.

Would this have been pos­si­ble five years ago? I think we got the tim­ing right. I don’t think it would have been af­ford­able then. Maybe the tech­nol­ogy was there but LEDS re­ally kicked in the last few years.

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