HB Architecture has been working with the Waitangi National Trust for several years, providing solutions and resolving issues for what is arguably the most significant historic landscape in New Zealand.
The first stage has been to provide a welcome “gateway” building, new public toilets, additional cover outside the existing Visitor Centre and the conversion of the existing toilets to a cafe/gallery.
An important part of the brief was to create a new facility which was light and airy in complete contrast to original toilets, but still connected to the exterior – whilst remaining private.
The “Gateway” makes references to the traditional form of Te Whare Runanga – a large gable roof covering a front porch area with an open plan internal space, which in this case leads to the path, which takes the visitor towards the Treaty Grounds. The form of the building is also respectful of the original Visitor Centre designed by architect John Scott.
A significant feature of the building is the slated “whare” form which is suspended under to main roof – this modelling of the space emphasises the direction that the visitor will travel and makes a strong connection with the surrounding bush – establishing connection with “the place”.
Finishes have been kept deliberately simple – structural steel frame with natural finished timber inserts, tiles and carpet to the concrete floor, walls are substantially glass with the ceiling in plywood panels.
The new toilets consist of a large gabled roof supported on a “simple” post and beam structure with glass walls to 50% of the exterior. Along the ridge of the roof is a skylight, which floods the building with natural light.
The original public toilets have been removed and replaced with a cafe/gallery in keeping with the original building. A new glass canopy has been added to the existing building with timber battens to filter the light.