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Bowled over

From BlackWhite magazine - issue 04, gold standard

Solid teamwork and considered colours hit a six and revive a historic stand.

Rugby, lacrosse, hockey, football, cycling, wrestling, baseball, softball, boxing, swimming, basketball, athletics and Aussie Rules – over the decades, Wellington's historic Basin Reserve has hosted an Olympic-like breadth of activities enjoyed by players and fans from all walks of life. But in sport, it is perhaps most well-known as the site of New Zealand's oldest test cricket ground.

New Zealand Cricket Museum Stand revival

The carefully considered Resene colours chosen to restore the stand garnered the project a Resene Total Colour Commercial Exterior Award. Plastered walls in Resene X-200 tinted to Resene Double Blanc (high), Resene Woodsmoke (mid) and Resene Taupe Grey (low) with ornamentation in Resene Double Blanc, timber ornamentation in Resene Taupe Grey, Resene Woodsmoke and Resene Hinau, timber fascia and trims in Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss waterborne paint tinted to Resene Hinau, fibre cement cladding in Resene Woodsmoke, timber soffit linings in Resene Double Blanc, exposed steel structure in Resene Uracryl 403 tinted to Resene Lattitude, steel windows in Resene Imperite tinted to Resene Barista and clear coated in Resene Uracryl 404 clear and timber doors in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Hukanui.

The New Zealand Cricket Museum Stand's story stretches back to 1855, when an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck. The quake had a profound effect on Wellington's landscape, creating a new shoreline which increased the city's footprint and made the Hutt Valley more accessible. It also saw the land through Te Aro rise a metre and a half while the basin turned into a swamp.

Three years later, English settlers petitioned the Provincial Council for a site to create a permanent cricket ground. With the city growing rapidly, cricket fields were being built upon almost as quickly as they were developed – but passion for the game would not subside. The Council approved the petition and provided a site in the basin, likely because it wouldn't be the most attractive piece of real estate for a developer. Turning the swampy land into a ground suitable for cricket and recreation was a sticky wicket until a source of free labour was found. In February 1863, prisoners at the nearby Mt Cook barracks took to the task of flattening and draining the new Basin Reserve, and on 11 January 1868, the very first game of cricket was played there.

New Zealand Cricket Museum Stand exterior

New Zealand Cricket Museum Stands

But over the past couple of decades, the stand had fallen into severe disrepair and was at risk of collapsing if another powerful earthquake were to tear through the area. Rather than simply restrengthening it, Wellington City Council saw the project as an opportunity to restore it to its full glory in time for an important match: the ICC World Test Championship, where the Black Caps would be facing off against India.

The project brief was primarily to restrengthen the existing Cricket Museum Stand's roof structure to New Building Standard (NBS) 100% and the concrete super structure to NBS 50% at IL3 – but given that they were readying for such an important event, there was far more to it than that. Other requirements included maximising the stand's seating capacity, upgrading the New Zealand Cricket Museum, relocating Cricket Wellington's offices to the interior and providing the necessary amenities for public use during match days.

Like the settlers and prisoners who emptied and flattened the Basin Reserve 150 years before, the architectural consultants at Shand Shelton had a big job ahead of them. The heritage elements of the building fabric as well as the history of the stand and its surrounding grounds were to be considered, retained and celebrated through any and all design decisions surrounding the Category 2 historic place. The design solution needed to include a full refurbishment to all interfaces affected by the restrengthening, the complete reseating of the stand tiers and considerable replanning of the interior to accommodate both existing and future tenants while addressing a range of requirements that were coming in from an array of stakeholders.

Main entrance with faux marble columns

At the main entrance, patrons are welcomed by faux marble columns which were restored by artist Tina Rae Carter using an array of colours tinted into Resene Lumbersider, Resene FX Paint Effects Medium and Resene FX Pearl Shimmer then sealed with Resene Uracryl GraffitiShield semi-gloss. Plastered walls in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Double Blanc with ornamentation in Resene Half Joss, column skirting in Resene Lustacryl tinted to Resene Nocturnal, ceiling in Resene Half Blanc, fibrous plaster cornices in Resene Half Joss, Resene Bedrock metallic and a custom made Resene colour. Painted doors in Resene Hinau, timber doors sealed in Resene Aquaclear satin and steel windows in Resene FX Metallic tinted to Resene Echo.

Director Tony Doile of Armstrong Downes, the lead contractor on the project, says there was no margin for error as the timeframe was extremely tight to ready the facility in time for the test match.

“Working on any 94-year-old heritage-listed building is a challenge at the best of times, but throw in the fact that it was an earthquake-prone structure that had been shut for a number of years and left for the pigeons to look after, that the building is such a focal point of Wellington's history, the project was sitting on State Highway 1, we had a looming cricket test against India, trying to ensure that all domestic cricket could continue while construction continued, not knowing exactly what we would uncover as the project progressed and, of course, a very tight budget made the project incredibly challenging – though much more rewarding upon completion,” he explains.

“The Cricket Museum Stand restrengthening project was a crucial component of the overall Basin Reserve Master Plan, one that enabled new life for an important heritage building, provided key amenities to the greater Basin Reserve grounds and re-engaged with the public,” says Roger Shand, who was the Lead Design Consultant and Project Architect. “It was paramount throughout the project that the preservation and reinstatement of heritage features previously lost on the building were achieved. The extent of features was vast, however, this drive to give new life to a rundown heritage site also presented vast opportunities to exploit the original ornamentation by incorporating a multi-layered colour scheme; emphasising the many heritage details the building had to offer.”

Main entrance revival

Main entrance revival 2

top tip  For authentic heritage and traditional Māori hues, check out the Resene Heritage colour chart.

The colour scheme on the building's exterior had to be strategic so as not to overwhelm the façade but also provide enough movement across the variety of ornamentation to convey the building's scale and detail. Shand Shelton's Mitchell Burrows was the Architectural Specifier and Finishes Lead for the project and responsible for the colour scheme.

“The palette had to consider several site-specific constraints which included not only the heritage nature of the building but also responded to the practical requirements of the site. High contrast colours and high light reflectance values had to be limited so as to not impact the cricket matches, whether they were taking place day or night,” notes Mitchell.

The newly installed stadia seating colours were another important consideration. They used a continuation of the same seats installed in the adjacent RA Vance Stand refurbishment – a previous Shand Shelton project – which provided a subtle link between the two stands. But it also impacted the exterior colour scheme and toning, given that the seats were a mix of grey, white and tan hues. “The benefit of the mixed seating is that it helps to provide the illusion of a fuller stand when patron numbers are limited,” Mitchell explains.

A warm interior with timber dado panelling

Mitchell says the Resene Half Blanc, Resene Double Blanc and Resene Half Joss colour scheme complemented with clear Resene Aquaclear semi-gloss on the heritage timber dado panelling provides a warm interior which considers the multi-tenanted and multi-functional environment. Plasterboard walls (above dado) in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Double Blanc, ceiling in Resene Half Blanc, cornice in Resene Half Joss, exposed steel ductwork in Resene FX Metallic tinted to Resene Bedrock, timber doors and skirting in Resene Aquaclear satin and steel windows in Resene FX Metallic tinted to Resene Echo.

“The process was iterative as the scheme was refined and we provided coloured elevations, perspective renders and physical sample boards to facilitate consultation between Wellington City Council and Cricket Wellington. While a large portion of the general site requirements and framework had been covered off previously during the work on the RA Vance Stand, some of the finer detailing was also resolved on-site during coordination sessions alongside both the trade and artist painting subcontractors.”

“The restrengthening method for the concrete super structure included sprayed concrete thickening to walls, beams and columns,” says Roger. “The strengthening interfaces varied and were designed to preserve the existing heritage fabric – the most prominent being the strengthening of the Sussex St façade, as the sprayed concrete strengthening was achieved on the interior face. The approach minimised the impact on the existing external form and largely enabled the detailed ornamentation to remain intact.”

The overall construction methodology and coatings also needed to address the Stand's proximity to State Highway 1. “The sheer volume of traffic which passes the building and the airborne oils and grime that come with that made Resene the right choice for this project,” says Mitchell. “Resene products were applied to the exterior of the adjacent RA Vance Stand during its 2017 refurbishment, which provided both a highly relevant case study and the confidence that what we specified would meet the demands of the site.”

Interior dado and paint colours

top tip  Resene metallic paints are ideal for everything from exterior and interior walls to steelwork, furniture and cabinetry and are useful and cost-effective for bringing sparkle and shine back to gilded heritage ornamentation.

The base of the exterior colour palette was chosen to lend a grounding effect to the structure; Resene Taupe Grey was applied to the foundation works, followed by a mix of Resene Woodsmoke, Resene Half Blanc and Resene Double Blanc to accentuate feature plaster ornamentation and natural divisions of the façade. Finally, key timber trim work and main entrance points were accented with Resene Hinau and Resene Hukanui from the Resene traditional Māori palette.

Inside, the existing environment was in a brutalist style, with the concrete structure exposed in most spaces. Much of it originally served as the cricket players' changing facilities while the public spaces were broken up with ornate timber dados and fibrous plaster cornice work framing the coffered ceilings. Mitchell says the same colour philosophy of the exterior was translated to the internal spaces to help alleviate the otherwise heavy environment.

NZ Cricket Museum Stand - public facilities

Though modernised, the public facilities feel authentic to the heritage character that exists throughout the project. Walls in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen tinted to Resene Double Blanc, ceiling in Resene Half Blanc, ductwork in Resene Imperite tinted to Resene Bedrock and steel windows in Resene Imperite tinted to Resene Echo.

“The main exterior wall colours, Resene Half Blanc and Resene Double Blanc, were applied to the bulk of the interior concrete ceiling and walls respectively to give a sense of identity and connection to the building. These bulk concrete walls were divided by new plasterboard dado walls finished in Resene Eighth Joss and existing heritage timber dado panelling, which was refurbished, stained and clear coated in Resene Aquaclear semi-gloss. The introduction of Resene metallics applied to the steel windows and portions of the ornate cornice work provided a textural relief to the adjacent finishes, and their sheen was a fitting complement to timber in Resene Aquaclear.”

Mitchell believes the restoration of the main entrance foyer was the most successful outcome of the project, which included the refurbishment of the patterned tiled flooring and highly-detailed and handcrafted replica joinery to the original ticket booths. The original faux marble columns which flank the entrance and welcome patrons were also reinstated by artist Tina Rae Carter using an array of colours tinted into Resene Lumbersider, Resene FX Paint Effects Medium and Resene FX Pearl Shimmer then sealed with Resene Uracryl GraffitiShield semi-gloss. Through Tina Rae's artistic techniques and application methods, the refreshed coatings once again mimic Carrara marble but with warmer umber tones which are sympathetic to the new interior colour scheme.

Warwick Hayes, Project Manager with Wellington City Council, says his experience working with Shand Shelton and Armstrong Downes on the project was a positive one. “We achieved a very good result and the teams needed to work well together to deliver a high quality project on time. The colour palette works very well for this building in this setting. Its complexities are subtle, but very effective and the end result speaks for itself – and the widespread appreciation for the end result is very pleasing. The building is a jewel in the crown of the Basin Reserve, which is an internationally-recognised asset, and it's great to see it sitting quite proudly in the ground once again after being neglected for many years. This success is a function of the collaboration and commitment to succeed shared among the entire project team.”

For Mitchell, the project demonstrated how a holistic and collaborative approach between the architectural team, head contractor and sub-contractors can achieve time and cost savings benefits as well as deliver a superior result for everyone involved – and it's a learning he knows will help him in future work. “For example, we were able to work very closely alongside the painters to deliver a high-quality restoration of the heritage timber panelling that satisfied all parties.”

“As a company, we were very pleased to have been able to deliver this project for Wellington Cricket, Wellington City Council and Wellingtonians alike,” says Tony. “It looks sensational! It would be one of the best projects we've done, from a team approach. The client, Wellington Cricket Basin Reserve Trust, the consultant team, our team and a fantastic group of subbies all pulled together to successfully deliver an iconic Wellington landmark under very challenging conditions. We wouldn't have succeeded without this strong team approach.”

We know that cricket fans are glad they did, too, as there has been resounding appreciation to see this taonga have a good innings once again.

Architectural specifier: Shand Shelton
Build: Armstrong Downes
Painting: JMA Decorators
Artistic effects: Tina Rae Carter
Images: Woolf Photography, Mike Haydon


BlackWhite magazine

This is a magazine created for the industry, by the industry and with the industry – and a publication like this is only possible because of New Zealand and Australia's remarkably talented and loyal Resene specifiers and users.

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Return to BlackWhite, issue 04


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