New look for Sarjeant Gallery extension façade

Published on 24 August 2022

Facade Render #3.jpg

Whanganui district councillors have endorsed a change of design and material for the façade of the Sarjeant Gallery’s new extension wing, Te Pātaka o Sir Te Atawhai Archie John Taiaroa, and given the green light for new materials to be ordered.

Tūpoho-appointed artist Cecelia Kumeroa and principal architect for Warren and Mahoney, Ralph Roberts, recently presented the new concepts to the Sarjeant Gallery Trust and Whanganui District Council. Kaumatua John Maihi was also present at the meetings.

Project Director Gaye Batty says Oamaru stone was originally specified for the façade of the building. “However,” she says, “When the current supply of stone was tested, it did not meet the required specification for the building. The project team was then charged with finding an acceptable alternative for the façade.”

She says the need to find a new material meant there was “an opportunity to explore a range of alternative façade ideas as part of a collaborative co-design process to reflect a rich cultural narrative.”

“The result is an inspirational new concept for the façade which will be constructed from dark stone panels, highlighted by splashes of shiny steel Tioata inserts to create the effect of light shimmering on the water. This light effect that can be seen under certain conditions on the Whanganui River is referred to as Kānapanapa and it is the key design narrative for the building chosen through a series of workshops with the architect Warren and Mahoney and Te Kāhui Toi, the artist group appointed by Te Rūnanga o Tūpoho.”

The stone panels are trapezoidal in shape and will be formed into a pattern known as Aramoana, which is unique to Whanganui, using honed and polished stone finishes to create contrast and shadow and symbolise the pathway from the Awa to the sea.

Gaye Batty says, “This will mean a change in appearance of the façade from the original scope and the new wing will now contrast significantly with the 104-year-old Sarjeant Gallery which was built of Oamaru stone, and look different from the early concept renders of the redevelopment that the community will have seen in the past.”

Councillors unanimously voted to endorse the new design in a council meeting on 23 August and for the new materials to be ordered.

Gaye Batty says the cost of the facade was initially estimated at $679,000. “The new façade price includes an additional $347,567 for the landed cost of the stone and $403,133 for the redesign, including the cost of the Tioata metal inserts. The increased costs will be able to be covered by the project contingency.”

Mayor Hamish McDouall says, “This opportunity arose because the Oamaru stone was not as strong as anticipated. The original design by Warren and Mahoney 22 years ago was simply a modernist square, an extension to the original gallery.

“The necessity to find a new cladding solution has given Whanganui the opportunity to have a building to rival some of New Zealand’s most admired architectural facilities, which will connect superbly to the Sarjeant Gallery, a lovely gracious structure, influenced by the Classical Period.”  

He says, “This design has the wow factor that perhaps was missing from the original design and I’m really supportive of it.”

Sarjeant Gallery Trust chair, Nicola Williams says “A profound and very considered approach has been taken to the new design and the result is beautiful, of high quality and unique in many ways to Whanganui.”



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