Total Colour Award winners

Northern Arena

From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery — Silverdale

Northern Arena is a new swim training and gym facility in Silverdale.

When I was first brought into the project the building had already been designed and documented by LHT Design who were specialists in pool design.

I was brought in to add some WOW factor and to bring my knowledge of gym requirements. The building was already under construction so any variations had to be additive.

Northern Arena Pool and Gym

Entrance and gym

In the entrance/reception area I decided that the straight walls needed to relate more to the swimming pool focus of the development so I designed additions that would provide curved forms evocative of waves, both in plan and in elevation.

Bright orange and green gym
Bright orange and green reception

However this concept could not be coloured in a literal imitation of water as the entrance then led down to the gym areas and they required a whole different approach.

Gym users come to expend energy so a subtle or sophisticated colour scheme wouldn’t work. They needed an environment that reflected the ‘take no prisoners’ motivational kind of approach to exercise.

To add to the mix, most of the pool users would be children and so the colours had to be bright and fun. I had always been a fan of how Spanish colour schemes could mix strong colours in a vibrant display of exuberance so I worked on a palette, initially of two colours, an orange and a green. But then, after having introduced a dark blue feature tile band to the green and orange tiled pool shower walls at the client’s request, it seemed natural to also bring a similar blue into the mix as a dark contrast colour.


The main issue in the pool halls was that they had large, blank walls up to 36 metres long and 7 metres high. They would have benefited from colour but what they really needed was a design that broke down the size and which gave them a form and depth that belied their flat nature.

Purple and white pool area

Some of the external walls were constructed of a insulating panel and I decided, that given the budget constraints, I would use that colour, or at least something similar, to be the background of the design. I chose Resene Half Pearl Lusta as I have found that it works well in contrast with strong colours.

Northern Arena Pool
Purple and white walls

The design concept was to draw on the shapes that light makes on the bottom of a pool after passing through, and being refracted by, the water above. I had previously enjoyed working with specialist painter Ross Lewis and I brought him into this project because of his ability to interpret a design and to run with it unsupervised. Together we developed the design and colour palette. Originally I had the concept of using the Resene Ecstasy and Resene Citron colours that I had specified for the rest of the building but when a full scale trial was done the client had reservations about the connotations of green and water imagery. It was then a natural choice to use Resene Paua which I had also specified in the project as a foil for the other two brighter colours.

It was obvious that Resene Paua was going to be too strong a colour in the larger scale so we experimented with diluting it with the base colour Resene Half Pearl Lusta. The Mt Eden Resene ColorShop then made this colour into a formula for use on the project. My concept also called for a ghost or shadow line, to the main design, to be done in a pearly silver to create an additional sense of depth. The pearly effect has the ability to change its appearance as observers more around, this adding a sense of movement to the overall work.

Colours used: Resene Citron, Resene Ecstasy, Resene Half Pearl Lusta, Resene Paua, custom colour Resene Northern Arena Blue (blend of Resene Paua and Resene Half Pearl Lusta).

Architectural Specifier: John Wray, Duo Architects
Building Contractor: Livingstones
Painting Contractor: Contract Coatings
Painting Contractor (effects): Ross Lewis
Photographer: Sean Thornton, John Wray, Ross Land

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Resene Total Colour Awards gallery

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Resene Total Colour Awards 2011

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