After devastating natural events, such as the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption and subsequent deforestation, the first Californian Redwoods were planted in 1915. In 2009 a Waitangi Treaty settlement returned the land to the local Maori indigenous tribe, Tokorangi, and management of park continues today with the Rotorua District Council. The Redwood forest park is internationally recognised with two prestigious Green Flag awards. Thousands of local, national and internationals visit the Redwood Park each year.
The brief was summarised as ‘six toilets’ and ‘sensitive design’. DCA’s study of a site survey revealed randomness, due to seedlings growing out of the original grove lines and used this to inform a meandering random layout of individual toilet cubicles.
The cubicles are colourful decorative panels within a structural aluminium frame and plate roof. DCA also conceived a cylinder of corten steel and opportunity to introduce elements of storytelling and indigenous art. A design competition was held to select the final laser cut art designs.
The Redwood Visitor Centre Toilets are an artistic and sensitive response to an area of high natural beauty. The toilets are randomly inserted among the giant redwood grove. While the function of the toilets remains uncompromising, the laser cut steel shrouds transform into landscape art. The laser cut patterns are Maori inspired and each shroud depicts a native bird to New Zealand, some now extinct. The cylindrical corten steel inherits a patina and form that acknowledges the redwoods. The toilets sit in harmony with the surrounds and don’t compete with the real attraction, but at the same time have become an attraction in their own right.
The cubicles are several brightly coloured compact laminate panels fitted into a fabricated aluminium frame and plate roof. The inside plate roof surfaces are light coloured, while the external face is a dark brown colour to disappear. Structural aluminium frames and internal plate roof forms are finished in a Resene Moon Mist (sprayed epoxy), structural aluminium roof plates are finished in Resene Sepia (sprayed epoxy) and subfloor piles and boundary joists in Resene Bushtrack. High level perforated mesh allows natural light and ventilation. Lighting placed between the shrouds and cubicles allows the toilets to shine like jewel boxes and emphasise the laser cut patterns.
Resene Moon Mist
Architectural specifier: Darryl Church
Building contractor: Burton Construction
Client: Rotorua District Council
Painting contractor: Holmac
Photographer: Graeme Murray
Screen graphics artist: Kereama Taepa
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