Imperial Buildings

Built between 1886 and 1911, the Imperial Buildings are a rich mix of heritage spaces and building fabric in downtown Auckland. The brief sought to bring this mix together with a comprehensive rework, restoration and upgrade of the existing buildings.

The design approach is based on creating a new network of circulation through the properties, enabling connection and interaction of previously inaccessible volumes contained within the buildings. The backbone of this strategy is a new laneway for Auckland: Imperial Lane.

This ground level connection between recently upgraded serviceway Fort Lane and the retail thoroughfare of Queen Street is activated by street dining serviced from central tables stepped to follow the level of the new ramped lane.

Vertical shafts are cut through the floors above the lane, introducing light into the space and a language of opaque glass and steel to complement the ‘found’ brickwork, timber truss, stone and dilapidated concrete of the original fabric.

A vertical connection is made from the middle of the lane - a sculptural staircase accesses a new courtyard on the level above ground.

In 2013 the completed project was awarded New Zealand’s highest architectural award, the New Zealand Architecture Medal.

The commercial floor area is approximately 5000m2. Construction was completed toward the end of 2011. Fearon Hay’s project team was led by Stephen de Vrij with Robin Gieselhardt, Christopher Beer, Chris Wood & Rufus Knight. Tim Hay and Jeff Fearon are the design architects. Photography is by Patrick Reynolds.

Recognition: Winner of the New Zealand Architecture Medal (NZIA Awards 2013) Winner of a Designer’s Institute Purple Pin – Best in Category (Best Awards 2012)