With a background in theatre and music, Mark Gascoigne switched things up by deciding on a career in architecture. Today, he delights in delivering colourful and creative retail, hospitality and living spaces for his clients.
You recently merged your Studio Gascoigne with Walker Group Architects. What brought about that move?
For more than, 30 years, Studio Gascoigne specialised in retail and hospitality spaces and then became heavily involved with airport retail too. Unfortunately, the first lockdown meant that nearly all of our projects were cancelled or postponed. We were offered an opportunity to merge with Walker Group Architects, a 90-year-old company with an impressive track record of work covering multiple disciplines, including commercial, retail, community, cinema and residential work. This gave us the ability to expand not only our team but also to pursue some other design directions, which is really refreshing. I’ve now become co-owner with a combined team of around 20 employees, so we’re now tackling some really large and exciting projects, both in New Zealand and overseas.
You’ve won a number of Resene Total Colour Awards over the years. Tell us about the use of colour in your work?
I’ve always been fascinated with the role that colour plays in architecture and, particularly, how colours react to light, especially our very distinctive New Zealand sunlight. For example, how light from a window can wash a wall in the afternoon and the colour of that wall will infuse the room and then morph and fade over the day.
Your collaboration references the De Stijl movement but with a New Zealand twist. What was the inspiration behind it?
I worked on this project with Ben Lamont, who is product design-trained but has now moved largely into spatial design where we collaborate daily. We wanted to come up with an object that was somehow useful (so you could hang your coat on it, perhaps); part-furniture, part-building but also sculptural, like a musical instrument or stage prop. De Stijl’s use of geometry and colour just seems to fit with architecture to me, although I never consciously mimic this artistic movement. We were keen for it to reference the New Zealand landscape: the trunks and canopies, sandy bays, steep ranges and plateaus. We also wanted it to convey a sense of humour and for the artwork to reference the crisp shadows that go hand in hand with our bright and clear light.
How did you arrive at the bright punchy hues?
I was thinking of that ‘only in New Zealand’ crisp light that always hits me when I return from overseas, which is like nowhere else. Like that special day, late each Spring, when the sun blasts out from behind a cloud and you know summer is here. The colours derive from summer Southland hillscapes, porcelain blue Wanaka bluebird days, our not-quite-grey sand, volcanic rock and Northland water. These all speak of summer and make us all feel relaxed and at home.
What were your colour choices?
Resene Tomorrow is evocative of our vivid sky and Resene Yes Please captures the unique colour of our coastal water during summer. Resene Hive offers the brightness and warmth of the Kiwi sun on dry Otago hills, while Resene Adrenalin and Resene Red Herring represent the fun, uplifting colours of January, when everyone is on holiday and enjoying the incredible weather.
Architecture NZ. February 2023
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