From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery of entries
The building has sat proudly on the beach since the 1950s, showing off its curves and offering a grand sweeping coastal panorama running from Bluff Hill to Cape Kidnappers from its ballroom.
Originally the Napier War Memorial Hall, it has been home to a dance hall, restaurant and even once housed the aquarium. In the mid-1990s it was redeveloped and extended as the Napier War Memorial Conference Centre. Its success, location and changes in the conference market since then meant that more space was needed. The building also required some seismic strengthening. The Napier City Council approved the project to carry out the extension and strengthening. Now the Napier Conference Centre, it reopened in March this year.
The ballroom has been enlarged by pushing out the original wall, retaining the experience of the curved room with a view. This is now supported by the addition of a new exhibition hall; a multi-purpose space fronting the centre, giving it a new presence along Marine Parade. An expansive new glazed foyer, a venue in its own right, connects new and old. Internal walls are finished in Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in Resene Half Rice Cake and Resene Black.
Previously the centre was quite recessive, pushed well back from the street, and not really engaging with the city. The aim was for the new centre to become a better citizen; to stand proudly along the Parade, alongside its neighbour, Ocean Spa, and across the road from the dramatic curved form of Te Pania hotel. To complement the simple white sculptural forms of the ballroom, the exhibition hall has been given a lower skirt of black and coloured panels. These paua shell inspired colours give the centre a fresh public image. A gentle curve on the northern face of the exhibition hall, facing Ocean Spa, defines a new laneway, a public route connecting Marine Parade and the coastal pathway.
What has been so successful is giving a new urban space to the city with the granite paved new plaza fronting the centre. Framed by the entry foyer and the exhibition hall, this space is a great venue to meet and congregate for both users of the centre and anyone else wanting to enjoy the views down the gardens to the sound shell and the city centre.
The main form to the extension, the new exhibition hall, continues with the use of the Resene Half Rice Cake walls of the existing building on the upper part, but introduces a black band of cladding interspersed with coloured aluminium panels around its base. This band defines the laneway, a new public route from the coastal pathway, up the ramp to Marine Parade and into the entry plaza. Colours chosen are inspired by the colours revealed when paua shell is polished and are a reference to the coastal setting, the building’s shell-like curved forms and its previous life as an aquarium.
The colours are randomly spaced along the black background to intensify their impact. The bright blue of Resene Lochmara is a close approximation of one of the corporate colours of the conference centre. The dark inky underworld depth of Resene Paua is offset by the almost iridescent Resene Niagara. During the day these colours, set in black, provide a new corporate image for the conference centre. At night when the centre becomes a place of celebration, hosting dinners and weddings, the ground-lit panels provide a touch of glamour with a diffuse coloured glow to both the granite entry plaza and down the public laneway.
Using colour in a precoated cladding system is often problematic. Most options are neutral and the standard colours offered are restricted and come with minimum order quantities and cost and delivery time issues. This was the case with the aluminium composite panels used on the building. The coloured options did not work with the paua shell design expression of the scheme. Solid aluminium panels and powdercoating was investigated but this still had a restricted range of colours that did not work and the brighter colours had poor colour-fastness qualities. Using the Resene Uracryl system allowed access to the full colour spectrum and came with good colour fastness and durability. To match the smoothness of the precoated black panels meant the Resene Uracryl had to be sprayed in a specialist booth, work undertaken by Nimons, the bus company, in a booth they have for painting their own buses.