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Drawing from local graffiti, cafes and music venues cultural aesthetics were compiled into an informal architectural language.

Zeal Youth Trust is a dedicated team committed to the advancement of young people in the creative arts, leadership and education. As a youth organisation they exist to engage young people, spotlight their abilities, and journey with them through their struggles.


Bound by values of authenticity, community, and opportunity, they are inspired by the creative potential of New Zealand youth. Through a holistic approach to youth development, Zeal currently provides support for young people in their journey towards becoming adults eager to give back to their communities in Wellington, Waitakere, and now, Hamilton. Not just a place to hang out after school, Zeal provides after school workshops in barista training, photography, graffiti art, and sound and lighting, as well as regular weekend events, music tuition, leadership courses and cognitive theory programmes for at-risk youth.

Performance area

The creative arts are Zeal’s primary tool for reaching and engaging troubled youth who are otherwise engaged in antisocial activities. For Hamilton, the introduction of a centrally located Zeal facility with the purpose of offering positive alternatives to loitering in and disrupting areas of the CBD is vital. Through regularly scheduled events and workshops they aim to foster youth activity that is constructive for the city of Hamilton.

To that end, they embarked on a process seeking long-term financial and in-kind support from local authorities and businesses towards the establishment of a purpose-built Zeal youth facility in central Hamilton. bbc architects were keen to once again bring a successful and relevant solution to a project with a complex brief and limited budget that truly holds the potential to change a community and the futures of hundreds of youths.


The brief, similar to the previous Wellington fit-out bbc architects completed for the trust in 2010, required multi-use spaces with a high level of acoustic separation, practice and recording spaces, a dedicated performance area and a café and gaming spaces, plus an office for the office and youth worker staff. Ultimately the venue fit-out needed to appeal to the Hamilton youth target audience too.

Drawing from local graffiti, cafes and music venues cultural aesthetics were compiled into an informal architectural language. This is highlighted in such things as utilising a stripped-back and exposed structural shell, dividing the space using inserted elements for cafe and practice rooms and an aesthetic of playful surfaces such as pegboard and blackboard paint decorated with local artist’s work and recycled timber furniture.

Zeal - Hamilton
Zeal - Hamilton

The idea for the colour scheme was to combine the black-out function of the auditorium/performance space with the structure (trusses) highlighted in Resene Red Berry, both with the auditorium and tying into the rest of the building via the castellated steel beams. Resene Black White starkly contrasts against the black areas with occasional accents in light natural blue Resene Conch and brown based Resene Thatch implemented with feature details and textures like weatherboards and pegboard. Natural plywood and the exposed texture of concrete round out the overall stripped-back look.

Architectural specifier: Nic Ballara, bbc architects ltd
Building contractor: Steve Ross, Stewart Hannah Ltd
Client: Zeal Youth Trust
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2015

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