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From the Resene News - issue 4/2017

West to east - Harewood Underpass

From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery of entries

Resene Total Colour Awards 2017
Harewood Underpass

Extended under a four lane highway, the 180m ‘Cathedral’-like Harewood Underpass is designed to reverse the perception of underpasses being venues for crime.

The Harewood Underpass has been acknowledged as a defining feature in the city’s cycle infrastructure network, raising the profile of cycling and connecting the city with the fast growing airport precinct. The sculptural, textural forms and colours are vibrant, joyful and engaging; playing a key role in the legibility of the underpass as a quality piece of human-scale infrastructure in an otherwise fast moving, large scale vehicular setting.

Snow-white facetted concrete panels, made of the site’s recycled aggregate, are sculpturally crafted to adopt the persona of the Southern Alps – the backdrop to the Canterbury Plains. The facetted walls create a sense of added depth (up to 90mm relief) that are tactile and soft in appearance. Their bright finish and reflective surface create spectacle along the length of the entire passage.

Marking the halfway point, a field of bespoke natural light tubes pierce through to the roundabout above and deliver shafts of natural light into the underpass. Being set on a 15 degree angle allows the tubes to funnel natural sunlight into the tunnel over the course of the day. A central line of LED luminaires complements this feature, and reinforces the linearity of the underpass.

Colour is used purposefully throughout for its visual qualities; contributing to creating a sense of warmth, depth, safety and sense of place in this otherwise tough transport corridor.

Bold use of colour is seen on textured panels, their application at intersections of the tunnel provides a human-scale by breaking the 80m covered passage into quarter-sections, acting as distance markers for pedestrians and cyclists as they make their way through.

A Resene custom made Jasmax White was selected for the walls and ceiling to make the space appear larger than it is and reference the Southern Alps in the backdrop.

exterior colour scheme
construction and inspiration

The textured intersection panels are colour-matched to weather patterns seen from west to east with the fiery West Coast sunset in Resene Carpe Diem (sunshine orange), dark stormy West Coast skies in Resene Ship Grey (mid grey), the light grey Nor’west Arch over the plains in Resene Rakaia (shale grey) and a broad blue Canterbury sky in the east in Resene Captain Cook (maritime blue) . These are set against the background of the snow panels painted in Resene Jasmax White. All concrete panels received five coats: one coat of concrete sealer, two coats coloured Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint and two coats of Resene Uracryl semi-gloss 402 and 403 depending on reflectivity of internal vs external areas, favouring greater reflectivity on internal walls. Resene Aquapel is used as a water repellent on concrete.

The underpass aligns west to east, with the fiery orange of the Resene Carpe Diem at the western end. On evenings when the sun angle is low, and especially when an orange sunset occurs, the orange is amplified, pushing an orange coloured wash of light into the underpass over the reflective Resene Jasmax White walls.

All other elements such as the galvanised facetted balustrades and mid-grey lighting columns were kept neutral to emphasise the colours of the underpass.


The Underpass won a 2016 New Zealand Concrete Association Award of Excellence in the Sustainability category, a 2017 NZILA Pride of Place Award of Excellence and was a finalist in the New Zealand Interiors Awards for its Craftsmanship.

This project also won the Resene Total Colour Maestro Nightingale Award and the Resene Total Colour Commercial Exterior Award.

The judges thought “with facetted shapes inspired by the mountains and a wonderful play of shadow, light and colour, this underpass is nearly more art installation than underpass. With such dimension and richness, the design and colours envelope you and welcome you in. Colours are inspired by the underpass orientation and landscape helping to transition between interior and exterior spaces. Paint is used as practical distance markers.

This project creates a new vision of what underpasses can look like, banishing the normal dull grey in favour of an inspiring space that is worthy of a visit just to make the trip through.

A mastery of shadow, light and colour.”

Architectural specifier: Mike Thomas, Jasmax
Building contractor: MacDow JV (McConnell Dowell and Downer)
Client: NZTA
Colour selection: Mike Thomas and Adrian Taylor, Jasmax
Painting contractor: PJF Services
Photographer: Dean MacKenzie and Meg Back

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