When Greater Wellington Regional Council took over Wellington’s suburban railway station buildings, they found that some were in urgent need of maintenance. Tawa station was a case in point, with the building having settled 150mm across its width due to ground conditions and the impact of the main trunk line rushing through. The size of the station building also belonged to a former time, when large waiting rooms and luggage areas were required. These had long since been boarded up.
Greater Wellington had previously worked with Aurecon and Novak+Middleton to build a new station building and upgrade the platform at Naenae; this team was brought together again to undertake similar work at Tawa.
Novak+Middleton designed a new shelter and services pod structure, respecting the form and materials of the previous station with rail iron columns and exposed purlins in the soffit, while bringing in a new language of grouped columns referencing the Tawa tree the area is named after.
Strip-lights were integrated into the ceiling structure, continuing on from the language used at Naenae, while uplighters brought into the rail iron column clusters gave a point of difference. The community got behind the process, participating in consultation sessions. This led to the Tawa Historical Society working with graphic artist Dan Mills to produce images for the wind screens.
The new building is now open, giving commuters a bright and sheltered space to wait for the train, in a space that is a contemporary and robust interpretation of the historic building that once stood on the site.
Having recently completed the new station at Naenae on the Hutt line with ‘Metlink Blue’ on the rail iron column structure, this theme was continued to Tawa in line with the transport network’s branding. While Naenae’s wind screen frames were powdercoated to match the rail irons, at Tawa the screen frames were powdercoated silver to contrast and therefore read separately from the building’s structure.
Resene Lumbersider tinted to Resene Alabaster was used on the exposed grooved soffit and purlins to reflect light from LED uplighters in the tree columns back into the station waiting area.
Rich brown Ironbark traction poles from the rail network have been recycled for use as the gable screens at either end of the building, pod battens and downpipe screens.
A Resene Uracryl urethane finish was required to the rail iron columns to maintain the structural integrity of the building and Resene Lustacryl in Resene Concrete was selected to give the pod door a durable finish with a colour that merged with the adjacent precast panels. With the tight time frame for the project, it was crucial that the systems selected were fit for purpose.
Metlink’s colour scheme of their signature blue and green unifies their brand from their website and timetables to the station buildings and on to the trains themselves. This consistent and modern use of colour assists with wayfinding for the network’s passengers. Bright and identifiable colours have been combined with durable materials and Resene finishes ensuring this building will stand the test of time in the tough conditions of the rail corridor.
The challenges of working on an island platform station were many for the contractors, with reduced work hours to ensure safety for all with the frequency of passing trains. The project team came up with the idea of constructing the building’s roof on an adjacent lot, which allowed full work days working at safer heights on the roof before craning it into place on the waiting structure. The fully assembled and painted roof was bolted to the rail iron columns, with only touch ups required to the final structure after the roof was installed.
Architectural specifier: Novak+Middleton Ltd
Building contractor: Buildmaster Ltd
Client: Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kiwirail
Colour selection: Novak+Middleton, Greater Wellington Regional Council
Contract, civil and structural engineering: Aurecon
Painting contractor: Surface Works
Photographer: Jo McWilliam