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Sweet as

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New Zealand Sugar and Goodman Fielder embarked on this exciting project with a vision of creating a ‘tourism and education destination’ to showcase the process of food production and promoted community.

Tucked away on Auckland’s North Shore, Chelsea Bay’s new Visitor Centre aims is to provide an immersive journey back into baking and food production.

Chelsea Bay hosts twice daily primary school groups with the intent to educate children and adults on how their food is made, ‘from the field to the table’. The journey involves a factory tour, interactive centre experience and state of the art baking school class. Chelsea Bay also offers a popular destination café ‘Sugar’ for families that remains a hit through the week and weekends.

Chelsea sugar works

The new building (Chelsea Bay) maintains a deliberately low profile behind the coastal Pohutukawas and weaves itself around operational molasses tank, over an operational bund and into a turn of the carpenter’s workshop.

The design team consulted with NZ Sugar (Chelsea), Goodman Fielder (Edmunds) and Heritage NZ on the turn of the century carpenter’s workshop exterior. The workshop has a gabled saw tooth roof built around a timber superstructure. This industrial design language and preference to integrate it drove the new building’s design narrative generating the building’s roof form (height and sweep). This new roof sits atop structurally glazed fins supporting a large glazed exterior and offers transparency through the building to the functional offering of the visitor centre and the landscape planting, hardscaping and seating ground the experience, offering a soft screen to the operative administration building and providing directed glimpses through to the wider factory and Waitemata harbour’s coastal edge.

Cooking space

Preparation area


Chelsea sugar works tour

A playground is designed in proximity to the visitor centre and was requisite in providing an outlet for the younger generations immersing themselves in the experience.

The visitor centre is broken into five main zones, treated as individual spaces with their own identity. The use of colour and texture in each of these zones was used to demarcate one zone from the other. The zones are:

The Baking and Education School

Housed within a converted 1950s carpenters workshop the extract system is designed to be oversized and playful, with large industrial bell mouth extract cowls painted intense vibrant Resene colours using Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen. The goal was to have fun while passively nodding toward the iconic brand colours, Chelsea and Edmunds, housed within.

Following consultation with both Chelsea and Edmunds’ marketing teams the bold palette was chosen:

Entry way

Exterior entryway

View to the ocean

Side elevation

Tour Staging Area

With all interior walls subjected to the high wear and tear of primary school, durability was a key consideration. Walls are fitted with vertical pine timbers stacked tightly to form a vertical finished surface, stained in Resene Colorwood Oregon. The tour staging area is ‘mood lit’ with three functional lighting levels. The red hues of Resene Oregon were chosen to provide warmth in what is otherwise a moody black room.

The safety jackets, helmets and train are all coloured in Chelsea pink and match almost perfectly to Resene Scrumptious.


The Café is run by one of Auckland’s popular Café operators. ‘Sugar’ is known for is lively colour palette and vibrant atmosphere, using Resene Magnolia and Resene Lilac Bush in Resene Zylone Sheen.

The NZ Sugar factory was established in 1882 and has been closed to the public for the last 30 years. The project has taken 10 years to become a reality and has been received very well by the general public. The Chelsea Bay Visitor target was projected at 68,000 visitors per year. Current projections put the visitor count at 200,000+, both foreign and domestic.

Side elevation

Cafe view

Sugar works tours

Architectural specifier: Beca Architects
Building contractor: NZ Strong
Client: NZ Sugar (Chelsea) and Goodman Fielder (Edmunds)
Heritage architect: Salmond Reed
Installation consultants: Art of Fact
Interior designer: Beca Architects
Photographer: Lachezar Karadzhov

Resene Total Colour Awards gallery

The Resene Total Colour Awards celebrate and encourage creative use of colour. For colour and decorating inspiration, browse through the hundreds of projects submitted...

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Resene Total Colour Awards 2019


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