The Masterton Courthouse was closed suddenly in December 2011 following a seismic report that the building had the potential to collapse in a significant earthquake. Stephenson&Turner (Architects and Building Service Engineers) were engaged alongside Impact (Project Managers) and Miyamoto (Structural Engineers) to find a cost effective solution to bring the 101 year old building back to a safe working environment.
The solution lay in a reinforced plastic that connects the individual bricks of the external masonry walls together, allowing the walls to move as one mass in the event of an earthquake. The benefit of this system is the unobtrusive finish to the building; there are no visible steel beams, no giant columns and no cross-bracing blocking windows. This meant the original character of the building was able to still be accentuated.
While the building was under construction, they took this opportunity to re-plan the internal layout, creating a more cohesive flow amidst the maze of secure corridors. New ceilings, flooring and painting gave the interior a fresh new look and feel and the upgraded building services provided a much needed comfort boost. To finish it off, a new external colour scheme gives a nod to the historic Oamaru Stone building facade.
The Masterton Courthouse was built in the 1900s using Oamaru Stone as the main external façade material. Oamaru Stone was selected as a prominent building material for grand public buildings of this time and offered stone craftsmen the ability to produce ornate detailing. The finished stonework has a beautiful creamy, sandy colour, however is prone to pollution staining and surface crumbling.
The original stone at Masterton Courthouse was painted at some time unknown, for reasons unknown, but what is known is once the stone is painted, there is no going back.
The external facade was represented by awkward ‘mint green’ walls with ‘forest green’ trim and ‘red’ detailing; a rather dated colour scheme with very little respect to the ornate beauty of the building’s past. However, the external painting/colour scheme was not included in the scope of works of the seismic upgrade of the building and it wasn’t until a year later that external colour scheme concepts became a new focus. Multiple concepts in colour schemes were trialled, with the underlining theme behind all concepts to bring this building back to its past beauty.
Sandblasting the paint back to its natural state was considered, until advice that the stone would not survive the process.
Research into the building’s construction and materials of old, led the concepts towards replicating the natural Oamaru Stone colourings, while highlighting the ornate detailing of the building. The concept was to play on similar colours with differing tones, a play on shadow and light.
Resene Akaroa (pebble grey) was the final selection for the building with its sandy, natural colouring in Resene AquaShield a dead flat mineral effect finish sympathetic to the age of the building. The tonal variance selected was Resene Quarter Akaroa (shingle taupe grey) for the walls and Resene Triple Akaroa (ochre brown) for the trims. The balance of light and shadow was well represented through the tonal selection of the Resene Akaroa colour family.
The final challenge was to select a complementary door and window joinery colour that would enhance the natural feel of the building. This decision came quickly with the help of original photographs of the building. A darker joinery colour was selected for the original building; therefore a darker joinery colour was to be selected now. The semi-gloss finish of Resene Lustacryl in Resene Double Gravel (dark grey neutral) gave a strong contrast in colour to the Resene Akaroa, while maintaining earthy natural tones.
The sympathetic colour tones of the Masterton Courthouse by Stephenson&Turner NZ Ltd won the Resene Total Colour Heritage Award. The judges thought “so gently handled and beautiful, this colour palette is subtle but shows great care to ensure details of the building are highlighted with relief details noted with colour.
It’s an enormous improvement from the dated scheme it has replaced. The new hues reflect the ornate beauty of the building’s past bringing it back to a colour combination more in keeping with its original colourway.
Thorough research and colour application has brought this building back to its past beauty using modern day finishes.”
Architectural specifier: Stephenson&Turner NZ Ltd
Building and painting contractor: Holmes Construction Group - Wairarapa
Client: Ministry of Justice
Photographer - external: Malcolm Gardiner, Stephenson&Turner NZ Ltd
Photographer - internal: Paul McCredie
Project manager: Impact Group
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